Week 13: Three ways to experience empathy
For the next four weeks of the 52 Weeks of Good campaign, we will be focusing on Empathy. Experiencing the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another can help you step into their shoes and treat them how you wish to be treated.
For week 13 we will look into the experience portion of empathy. Our daily habits. Here are a three key points to help you experience empathy:
- Practice patience – Most of our outbursts of rage or anger usually stems from quick moments that frustrate us. We have our outbursts, we shake it off and we move on, but how often do we think about how our outburst effected the other person, usually a stranger, that was also involved? Take driving for example. You get cut off, blaze your horn, step on the gas, swerve around them giving them the bird as you pass fly by. Maybe you think this helps you feel better for a moment, but what did you really achieve? Revenge, making your point, letting the other person know that that pissed you off? Not at all. All you really were successful in is making that person feel terrible. Nine times out of ten that person made a mistake; they didn’t mean to cut you off because they didn’t see you. Next time you are about to siren your horn or dabble in a little road rage, practice patience. You never know what is going through that other persons mind or what is going on in their world. Maybe they just learned their husband or wife has cancer. What if they were just laid-off from their job and are struggling to figure out how to feed their four kids. By practising patience, you can take a deep breath and let their mistake go. And swearing at them in your car is just as bad as letting them know you are angry by their mistake. Swearing at someone, even if they don’t hear it, only puts bad energy on them, almost like giving them a curse. It’s not good. It also isn’t good for you, either. Give them the benefit of the doubt and carry on with your day. In fact by practising empathy, you may make their day by letting their mistake go.
- Treat empathy as a skill – Think of this as a daily habit. Driving is just one example of our many daily experiences where we have a chance to practice empathy. If you look at empathy as a skill, it is something that you are always working on, learning about and perfecting. Like pottery, or writing, or learning an instrument. You may have some talent with it in the beginning, but there are all skills that you learn and perfect as time goes on. The more focus we put on empathy in our daily occurrences, the better we will be at perfecting it as our skill.
- Find something good from every day – As a daily habit, or as your empathy skill, you can either focus on the positive or the negative from the day; why not focus on the good things that happened? Not every day will be the best, but the best you can do is to find one little thing from each day that went well, made you happy, or you were able to do for someone else. As you turn this into a habit, share it with your family and friends. Ask them at the end of the day what their high of the day was. The more you think of the good things, the more positive you will be able to be and you will be able to find more good things in each day to come.
Looking at these three ways of experiencing empathy will help you have a better outlook on life, help the people around you have a better outlook on their lives, and you will be creating positive experiences everywhere you go!