There’s an age old conception which implies that every person in this world is connected to each other. It got to a point where scientists and mathematicians set out to prove such a link which resulted to what’s known today as the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory.
This idea is now widely accepted and Science Alert showed that the numbers are there to back it up. The example given stated that you only have to be connected to at least 44 people who are each connected to 44 other people and so on. When it reaches the sixth degree (44^6), you get roughly 7.26 billion, which is close to the current world population. It’s highly unlikely that you only know 44 people personally.
The connection demonstrated above provides an empirical explanation for why people experience feelings like empathy. Everyone has the capacity for it, and the levels just vary depending on the person.
But rather than being a passive trait, it’s much better if you practice empathy actively. Being more empathetic lets you become an even greater version of yourself.
For starters, it leads to happiness. An article by Eric Barker of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, explained that empathy is the “cornerstone of good relationships” which are among the greatest sources of happiness. A key takeaway here is that it’s not limited to personal connections.
Take for example the experience of Dr. Rob Lamberts that was shared on MedPage Today. Medical professionals are actually taught to suppress feelings like empathy according to general knowledge resource Knoji. But after getting into an accident and experiencing what many of his patients have gone through, Dr. Lamberts realized the true value of empathy which permanently changed how he connects with his patients.
Long story short, he now feels more fulfilled and happy. This is just one case of how empathy can improve even your professional life and there are many more out there. Needless to say, you don’t have to go through a potentially life-threatening situation to start becoming more empathetic.
Another vital thing to remember is that aside from fostering relationships, empathy also has the power to fortify existing ones. This is most evident within families who are surrounded by challenging circumstances.
Take for instance caring for a disabled elderly which is a relatively common scenario around the world. Seeking assistance from a private nurse or a relevant institution is a logical and normal solution, but there are still people who choose to look after their aging loved ones themselves. Now, this is not to say that people who took the former step are not kind or in this case, empathetic. The point is that practicing a greater degree of empathy also means going out of your way to dedicate yourself to another person because you’re aware of what it’s like to be in those shoes.
This is exactly what happened to a disabled old woman from Berkshire, in the UK and her son who changed their fortune for the better. The lady remains under the care of her son whom she specified as the only person who has been with her “all the time, through the good and bad.”
To cut a long story short once again, she was able to keep living positively through his support. She eventually became a winner on the popular bingo site Foxy Bingo, a site that she regularly played on but probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity if she was in a facility for the elderly. However, that was just a bonus, as the greatest thing was that love and empathy gave the son the necessary strength to face their challenging reality.
All in all, there are countless real-life stories of how empathy helped change someone’s life for the better. So begin enhancing your empathetic side. There are many easy ways to do this, some of which were tackled by Lifehacker.
- Listen more
- Keenly observe the people around you
- Try to see things from the perspective of someone you don’t like
- Be generous
The last one was also emphasized in our previous post ‘40+ Tips & Facts That Will Increase Your Happiness’. That’s just additional proof that empathy goes hand in hand with happiness.
What interesting experiences have you had during the times you’ve felt empathetic?