I go through many days thinking terrible things about random people I see out and about.
There’s no rhyme or reason for this.
I don’t know these people.
It’s the old guy walking slowly right in front of me and holding me up. What’s his problem?
It’s the woman who’s yelling at her kids. Can’t she control herself?
It’s the guy in front of me at the green light who’s not moving. COME ON IDIOT, WAKE UP!
It’s the pretty girl who I’ve already envisioned getting turned down by. How dare she? Who does she think she is!
All this leads to a daily life of negativity. I try to stay positive, read positive things, and start my day with listening to audios about how to be more happy, and write down things I’m grateful for. All of this helps, but my default position has been to tear people down in my head, without any knowledge of what their life is like.
But I have found the cure, and it helps in ALL areas of life.
1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
It’s far more helpful, and healthy, to assume the best in people. Why not? Who cares if you’re wrong?
Just turn it around:
“That guy that flipped me off probably just got fired from his job and he’s hurting.”
“The lady at the DMV has probably had a really tough life and deals with angry people all day long. When was the last time she received a random compliment?”
“The girl that ignored me when I said hi just got dumped by her boyfriend and was in a bad mood.”
Empathy helps in everyday situations to brighten your mood. It also helps in relationships, business, friendships, dating, and overall happiness levels.
Here are some benefits I have found with empathy:
1. By cultivating empathy for others, you raise your empathy for yourself. No more beating yourself up. No more negative assumptions. Just live in the now and assume the best.
2. You lose grudges. I don’t let things linger like I used to. I may not agree with someone. I may not become great friends with them. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy. For example, I used to get into political debates, thinking I could change someone’s mind. What a waste of time! In my head I would think “This person is WRONG and I need to show them WHY THEY ARE WRONG!” Yeah that worked out great! Typically, we would both leave the conversation feeling upset and of course, they would be even more convinced they are right! So I accomplished exactly zero, and brought myself down in the process. Now I can just keep in mind that they came to their conclusions based on the knowledge they have. My pleas to change them do nothing, so I can state my position but not be attached to any result- and understand that they are not a horrible person because they don’t agree with me!
3. You feel more at peace. Duh. Going around hating everyone for the car they are driving or the jeans they are wearing is draining.
4. You’ll be better at debating. Maybe even a master debater? It’s easier to debate with people when you can understand their feelings.
5. You will get more dates (if you’re looking for them). The hard core opinionated feminist woman is not “an evil bitch” when you give her empathy. Deep down, she’s nice. I guarantee it!
6. You will make more money. In a job, negotiating becomes easier. In a business, you will make more contacts and understand your customers that much better.
7. You will default to a positive outlook. This has taken me a while. How can you be positive when the economy is so bad? Babies are getting killed by bombs in the middle east? Idiots are ruling over us? Freedoms are being destroyed! The list can go on and on and there are always ways to dwell on all the crappy things going on in the world. But, this is pointless. Most people are trying to do the right thing. Most people want to help. The “power of positive thinking” may not work, but empathy does.