Did you know that meditation can make you more empathetic, and so can reading fiction books? It’s true! A 2013 study published in “Science” revealed that people were more skilled at interpreting the moods of others in images after reading works of literary fiction.
If you think that’s intriguing, check out these five fun facts about empathy…
Empathy and Sympathy Aren’t the Same
You can be sympathetic to someone’s circumstances while utterly oblivious to his feelings and thoughts. Empathy is more about intensely feeling, while sympathy is more about understanding.
Almost, All Humans Want to be Empathetic
The same neurons in our brains light up when we see another person experiencing emotion, just as if we were feeling that emotion ourselves. Neuroscience research employing MRI imaging provides tangible proof that supports the conceptual understanding of empathy by identifying the brain regions involved. Vital aspects of empathy—actually occur in particular brain regions.
Empathy Isn’t Unicorns and Rainbows
Misplaced empathy may be harmful to both you and other people. It can cause fatigue and disengagement, keeping you from supporting those most needing it. Even worse, an empath’s predisposition can be leveraged against them by a non-empathetic person to get what they want from them, which causes a lot of grief and sometimes jadedness for an empath.
Empathy is Intrinsic… But Not Automatic
The most fundamental kind of empathy, known as “emotional contagion,” or the ability to share another person’s emotions, has been demonstrated in a variety of species, suggesting that humans are born with this ability.
Empathy is a naturally innate trait in humans. Yet, it necessitates cognitive abilities like digesting information and paying attention. As we get older, we choose the activities and conversations that are more enjoyable for us. To engage requires a choice.
Empathy Can Be Learned
Real empathy and compassion may go hand in hand. It’s sometimes described as the capacity to comprehend another person’s needs and feelings even though you are unable to relate to their situation. Some people find this kind of empathy more natural than others. Asking questions, listening intently, letting others know you’re there for support, including others in activities and events, and extending the benefit of the doubt to others are all skills one may develop in this area.
If you didn’t believe it before, you know now that humans have it in us to care about others over and above all else when we feel safe and guided to do so. Life happens; we can become jaded, but our reactions are a choice. As leaders of empathy, we can influence kindness in others, which may be a part of a grander plan.