em·pa·thy (noun): the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Empathy is the bridge to understanding and resolving conflict, and this is a great week to walk that bridge!
This time of year, and this year in particular, there is likely a lot going on with those around you. Some may be trying to stick to a New Year's resolution and falling short. Others may have made great strides and trying to keep the momentum going.
Some may feel energized by the show of worldwide solidarity for women’s rights from this past weekend’s marches, while others may felt it unnecessary.
Some may be experiencing winter blues, while others invigorated by the cold.
Regardless, we all have the same basic wants and needs: happiness, good health, a job, home, love, and to fit in those “skinny clothes.” Let’s take a moment to better understand and appreciate each other, and engage in empathy.
To quote a dear researcher friend of mine “(when there conflict between groups or people), the only path forward is for each side to humanize the other and most importantly for each side to gain understanding of one another).”
I find that so true, especially when the conversation respectful and not attacking. I may have no idea what it’s like to do shift work, for example. But a brief conversation with a shift worker teaches me the issues with having an alt schedule to family and friends, the challenges with diet and exercise during intense 12-24 hour work schedules, and the impact on sleep. We can all learn more about each other by driving at the “why.” Why does someone want to achieve that New Year’s resolution? Why was the march important to that person? Why is someone experiencing January blues? Don’t ask why just once, but ask it five times to really drill down for the answer.
At the core, we all just want to live a good life and often the answer to “why” points us down that path.
So I ask you to experiment this week with trading places with someone for a thoughtful moment. Wear his/her hat for an hour or so and feel what it’s like to walk in his/her shoes from their point of view. Consider what you learn and allow yourself the freedom and open-mindedness to empathize.
You may not agree, but just maybe you’ll understand each other better, and thus able to reduce a chasm (or stop one from being created). Who knows, maybe you’ll even be one step closer to world peace.
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™