Empathy is the ability to read and understand another person’s feelings. It helps when we listen to other people attentively and take notice of their body language. We also open our minds to their point of view or perspective. To know more about perspective, click here.
Let’s give you an exercise in guessing the emotion!
It was pretty easy, wasn’t it? This is because the human brain is hardwired for empathy.
We have something called mirror neurons, which allow us to look at another’s face, read their feelings, and generate those feelings in ourselves by copying their expressions.
Have you ever realized why yawning is so contagious? The answer is mirror neurons!
So now how do we know our empathy level or increase our empathy? Because it can be increased! It is not something you are born with. It is a skill that can be developed over time.
4 Easy Ways to Increase Empathy
1. Observe and be curious about people around you
When you walk around the park or in school, challenge yourself to look and read other children’s expressions. Ask yourself what could they be feeling or what kind of day are they having? If you feel someone could use your help, go talk to them or lend a hand.
2. Read about empathetic leaders
Reading on people who are known for their kindness, courage and inspire others to be more loving and generous. Suggested persons would include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and so on. The lives of these remarkable figures inspire the best qualities in us.
3. Read books on kindness and empathy
Books open a world of new thoughts and ideas. They give us a wonderful opportunity to see the world through different characters and for a small moment of time, be them too. They explore our imagination and ignite our curiosity, all essential elements for empathy.
Reading sparks a revolution in the mind. Some wonderful books, to begin with, are You, me and Empathy, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, Have you filled a bucket today, Ordinary People Change The World. To know more age-appropriate books, please leave a comment with your email and I can send a list!
4. Watch movies that promote understanding of feelings and kindness.
Just like books, the right movies can move our worlds! They compel us to look at the world from a different point of view or think and feel beyond what we know. When we laugh or cry during movies, we are experiencing empathy.
Some wonderful movies to start with are Wonder, Inside Out, Pay It Forward, Kindness Matters, and The Kindness School. To know more age-appropriate movies, please leave a comment with your email and I can send a list!
I hope you find these ideas simple and inspiring to be more empathetic! The more you develop your empathy, the more happier you will feel!
Kindness has this wonderful way of giving happiness to those who give and receive it. To know your level of empathy, fill the empathy grade posted below:
Check your levels of empathy by reading each statement and give yourself a score. Think about it carefully and answer. There is no right or wrong.
Start from where you are today. Empathy is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows!