Empathy (Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash)

Empathy, Compassion, and Finding Happiness in Our Troubled World

I finished reading the book, The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World, by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD.

In the 15th and final chapter, The Dalai Lama says…

“Empathy is one of the most wonderful human qualities. Because when you are deeply aware of the fundamental truth of our human existence – that just as I do, others too wish to achieve happiness and wish to overcome suffering, and have the equal right to obtain happiness – you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. You will then be able to easily relate to others’ welfare out of a genuine sense of caring. This is compassion.”

The way The Dalai Lama communicates this point is so clear. I don’t think I’ve ever met a human being who wanted to suffer. It’s one of the most fundamental things of being human, the desire to be happy, safe and avoid pain. Regardless of gender, race, religion or any other thing that makes us distinct, isn’t that the one thing that brings us together? Empathy is a wonderful thing. Do you ever notice that the most popular, long-running TV shows are the ones that have characters that you can relate to? On the surface, you might think that they are relating to you only. But if they only related to you, the show wouldn’t still be broadcasting. The characters that everyone can relate to is what we as humans are attracted to.

Look at Princess Diana…she was the “People’s Princess”. Despite her wealth, everyday people related to her. How can that be? Because she expressed love and empathy to the everyday person. The Dalai Lama is also one of these special human beings. But imagine if we lived in a world where individuals weren’t recognized as being extraordinary because of their empathy? What if we lived in the world where most individuals were naturally empathetic. Many people think that only a chosen small group of “special” human beings can possess the gift of empathy. But I think we’re all capable to exude it. I don’t think it’s something you’re born with…I think it’s something that is learned over time. Imagine if every human being took a course on empathy? I think the world could pretty well solve all their issues in one fell swoop.

Do you agree?

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