A Little Exercise in Empathy – Part I

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
~ Daniel Goleman

Compassion is like a muscle. It must be exercised to remain flexible, strong, and capable of good use. Today, I’m asking you to take a little exercise in empathy and share it with others.

1. During your next conversation with a loved one, attempt to keep count of their non-verbal gestures. Were you still able to stay focused on what was being said?

2. Devote a chunk of time to sit and stare at four walls, preferably white walls. How long did you sit there before you felt compelled to get up and move on?

3. Over the course of a typical day or two, how many times do you venture outside? Really think about it and come up with your best guess: in and out of your car, to grab the mail, the places you go (work, grocery store, movies, homes, restaurants, etc).

2011_BuffaloWWingsI’d love to hear your results. I plan to use your answers as insight to move into Part II of this little exercise in empathy. I’ll reveal simple and rewarding ways to expand compassionate action within your family and your community. If you prefer to share your answers privately, you can email them to me: contact@becausehopematters.com

Until then, my hugs to you!


2 thoughts on “A Little Exercise in Empathy – Part I”

  1. Thanks for prompting me to exercise, Maryann. My answers are open for public viewing and here they are:
    1. No, I am never good at listening to someone speak and at the same time pay attention to another issue. I have found that I cannot even carry on a very good conversation when I am driving either. For me, I believe, that compassionate listening means that I must devote my full attention to the person that is sharing.
    2. No more than 5 minutes and probably closer to just a little over 4 and it was a struggle after about 2 minutes because it took effort.
    3. Yesterday, it was 16 times if I counted right but it was probably more since I went shopping twice and to church once. I also worked in the yard. I am almost certain to have miscounted and missed several other times
    Hope this helps and thank again.

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