Can I expand my own empathic potential? Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to a research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives.
But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. That makes it different from kindness or pity.
Evolutionary biologists, like Frans de Waal, have shown that we are social animals who have naturally evolved to care for each other, just like our primate cousins. And psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.
But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood. We can nurture its growth throughout our lives—and we can use it as a radical force for social transformation. Research in sociology, psychology and history reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives, and thus, improve the lives of everyone around us.
Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers
Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities
Habit 3: Try another person’s life
Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up
Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change
Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination
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