Empathy isn’t just something that expands your moral universe. Empathy is something that can make you a more creative thinker, improve your relationships, can create the human bonds that make life worth living. But, more than that, empathy is also about social change — radical social change.
Philosopher Roman Krznaric believes that the 21st century needs to shift from introspection to outrospection, the ultimate art form for which is empathy. He explains in this RSA Animate video.
I discovered this thanks to the insightful and inspirational Brainpickings website.
I very much believe in what he is saying and have often thought it. I have a sense of social justice and a natural desire to understand people and discover new things. That’s why I work in the charity sector. However I have fallen foul of the introspection curse. Sure it has been invaluable to me and helped me discover a great many things but it has also been a bit of a curse. If we all put more effort into empathy maybe we can not only achieve the social changes we so desperately need but be happier individuals too. Because I believe if Outrospection and Empathy are more widely encouraged more people will realise that happiness is found by looking beyond themselves – making others happy makes you happy. Other Non-Western cultures understand this, I’m thinking of the African philosophy of Ubuntu, for example. I think we have too often forgotten it as a central tenant of life and suffer as a consequence. Let’s all make more effort hey!