It feels good to be understood. I think we all can agree that we like people who take the time to see things from our perspective. So, we should strive to do the same! Empathy is a great trait to cultivate, and here are some ways you can.
1. Simply Listening
I don’t know about you, but for me, it can be easy to talk on and on about my problems. I can also sometimes overlook what someone else is saying. Active listening makes understanding other points of view way easier. Sometimes, I will repeat what the other person has said to make sure I heard them correctly. I also always try to really think about how they must be feeling in a given situation.
2. Don’t Stay Silent
Okay, so we just talked about how listening was super important. And it is! But there is a lot to be gained from talking, too. I have found a lot closer to people from opening up and being vulnerable. It cultivates an empathetic bond and shows a mutual understanding, so always be sure to make it a two-way street when it comes to communication.
3. Live a Different Life
To really understand another person’s point of view might take more drastic measures. Living a different life doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and start over completely. Some small things to do that are really eye opening can include attending a church service of a faith different than yours. I personally love traveling and trying to live as close to the natural culture as possible. I’ve learned a lot from stepping outside the norm.
There are so many amazing causes that you can devote your time and effort to. Not only are you helping others, but you also get to see things from other points of view. I’ve found that this first hand experience is really beneficial on my end. I always gain something from it, and it helps me understand things on a deeper level.
5. Read Fiction
Digging into your favorite novel is actually a great way to be more empathetic. It makes sense, because when you delve into a world of fiction, you get introduced to different characters and situations. I know when I get lost in a story, I feel like I am apart of it. I get to use my imagination and put myself in the place of a character. It’s a great different approach than simply talking to others.
6. Talk to Strangers
This may seem to go against everything our parents taught us as kids, but talking to people we wouldn’t normally is a great way to get perspective. Sometimes I will simply try and talk with the person who gives me my coffee every day. It doesn’t have to be an intense convo, but going beyond my comfort zone feels good and increases the feeling of humanity. Realizing that all people are unique and have their own stories is the reminder we might need to have increased empathy.
There are so many benefits to regular mediation. It can keep you in balance spiritually and release your stress from a hard workweek. It can also get your perspective more aligned and increase your empathy. I started practicing something called compassion meditation, which focuses thoughts on others. I basically take the time out of my day to draw the attention outside of myself and wish well on others. It’s a great practice!
Becoming more empathetic is a great thing to strive for. Having the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes benefits both you and them. If you have any other ideas on how to increase the trait, please share, and thanks for reading!