Empathy: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
Continuing on the theme: the science of happiness… this week I am working on empathy.
Once upon a time the United States had a president known for a peculiar facial display. In an act of controlled emotion, he would bite his lower lip and tell his audience: “I feel your pain”. Whether the display was sincere is not the issue here, how we are affected by another’s predicament is.
Empathy is 2nd nature to us. According to new research, empathy is a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives. Empathy doesn’t just make you good, it is good for you too.
Empathizing with adversaries is a route to social tolerance. That was Mahatma Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading upto India’s independence in 1947, when he declared: “I am a Muslim, a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew”.
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. President Roosevelt
What did the yogi tell the door-to-door sales person who came to his home selling vacuum cleaners? “too many attachments”.