13 Jan Why is having empathy important?
Why do we need empathy?
Because a world without it wouldn’t be nice. You wouldn’t want to live in it. Empathy creates connections between people, binding them together and helping to forge friendships and love. With empathy, bonds of trust are more likely to be created because people are able to respond to each other with understanding. When people trust one another, they feel safe and are able to work together toward a common goal.
Empathy from others also makes us feel as if someone cares for us: when someone expresses that she understands what we are feeling, we feel supported and understood. Without empathy, we would likely feel lonely and different in a not-so-great way. Empathy is the great connector. It helps people to react to situations with insight as to what another person might desire. It informs our decisions. Without feeling empathy towards others, we risk acting selfishly and disconnecting from others.
Although other species have the capacity for empathy, the human ability to relate to another person’s feelings and to even act on it (compassion!) is what brings us together, spreads humanity (meaning the quality of being kind) and makes our world a much nicer place to live. Through empathy, we understand each other’s experiences and are more prone to help each other. Here’s how:
Empathy helps us connect with each other. When we can relate to how other people feel, then we are more likely to connect and connections feel good! Have you ever said, “OMG, I can totally relate to that!” and then inside you feel like you just bonded with someone?
Empathy also means that we care about each other. Having someone show you empathy feels good and tells you that someone noticed you and valued how you felt. Can you remember the last time someone showed you empathy? How did you feel? When someone makes you feel that you are valued and cared for, you likely feel good about yourself and then you are more likely to show that you care in return. This builds connections between people: It’s a cycle!
Empathy means that we create a better world. As we connect and care about each other, the world becomes a nicer place to live. Empathy is contagious. Pass it on!
In fact, empathy is thought to be so important to the future of our society by some people that whole organizations have been built around the concept of generating more empathy in the world (See startempathy.org, Ashoka.org, Rootsofempathy.org). These organizations believe that if we can support empathy in people, we can help the world to become a better place.
Can you remember the last time someone showed you empathy? How did you feel?