Empathy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”
The action of understanding is an interesting sentence. It reminds us that it is an act, it is a choice. It’s not a thing you should consider yourself exempt from. It’s not that some people are empathetic and some people aren’t. It means that, for the most part, empathy is a trait you can choose to develop. Today our intent is to practice empathy.
And why does it matter at all?
- This now famous speech from actress Meryl Streep on the importance of empathy and a shared experience
What does your art allow you to do? For Meryl Streep, it has allowed her and countless other performers like her to connect and to share perspectives she might not otherwise have access to. Connecting and being empathetic towards one another allows us to find the commonality between us rather than focusing on what separates us. In what ways do your passions and work bring people together?
- This article from NY Mag about why empathy might be the most important thing you could teach your kid (and so arguably yourself as well)
Writer and child psychologist Michelle Borba recently released her new book about raising children and our current, un-empathetic landscape. As technology has allowed us to reach the furthest corners with our own self promotion, our ability to connect has dwindled at alarming rates. So how will we change that? What example will we set for the next generation? All interesting questions and insights here!
- This sweet and simple short from Brene Brown on the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing despite how frequently they are interchanged. Shame researcher and one of our favorite author/speakers Brene Brown walks us through the difference!