Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference.
I believe empathy has become a lost art in our society. Very few people try to actually put themselves in another person’s shoes and try to understand where the person is coming from. I see this in our political discourse and in the discussion of many of the struggles we are experiencing in our society. So many are quick to have an opinion on every topic, that they never stop even for a minute to consider someone else’s perspective. A wise, mature person wants to try to see through the eyes of another, or listen with the ears of another, or feel with the heart of another. That is truly a beautiful virtue and one all of us should aspire to possess.
This is not easy. It is much more convenient to loudly espouse what you think is right based on your experiences. Our society would be so much better if we paused and said, “I want to try to see this through the lens of the person with a different view.” Living like this is not weakness but rather enormous strength.
Big living is not being sure of your rightness in every situation. True big living comes when you listen. You might be surprised what you can learn. The great actor Meryl Streep summed it up well when she said, “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.”