be a better person.
More and more, we live in bubbles. Most of us are surrounded by people who look like us, vote like us, earn like us, spend money like us, have educations like us and worship like us. The result is an empathy deficit, and it’s at the root of many of our biggest problems. It’s because of how homogeneous people’s social circles have become, and also because humans naturally hold biases. But researchers have discovered that far from being an immutable trait, empathy can be developed. There are steps people can take to acknowledge their biases and to move beyond their own worldviews to try to understand those held by other people. Bonus: You’ll make new friends along the way.
While some people are naturally more empathetic, there are exercises that anyone can do to improve.
So what is empathy? It’s understanding how others feel and being compassionate toward them. It happens when two parts of the brain work together, neuroscientists say — the emotional center perceives the feelings of others and the cognitive center tries to understand why they feel that way and how we can be helpful to them.
Research has shown that empathy makes people better managers and workers, and better family members and friends. But it’s bigger than just its personal effect. We’re all in this together, and researchers say that connection and compassion are crucial to a sustainable and humane future.
Some people are more naturally empathetic than others, but there are easy, evidenced-based exercises that anyone can do to increase their empathy.