Be happy for the Happy! Empathy: A Personal Consideration
We live in a world that, from a certain moment, has begun to expect people to prove their kindness and emotional availability to others. It is uttered openly, this need for proving to the world that you have a trait of character that, according to certain social conventions, is good and contribute to a better society. Strangely though, there is a compulsory demand for this. The CVs must include a certain voluntary work experience, companies must be socially responsible, and people are building charities.
But is this a sign of true kindness, of conscious behavior, of a choice based on personal conviction? Or is it more a means of building a socially accepted image, with no core to it?
Based on mere observation, my strong conviction is that most acts of kindness in our society are based on their contribution to a person’s vanity and image, than based on empathy with that situation. It is because we lack empathy intentionally and most view this as a way of protecting us. We don’t want to step in another’s shoes, as this might create some discomfort.
It is also the resistance to connect, to step out of the box that represents our world and meet a new idea, that life might be different for others. They say we accommodate rapidly with the wellbeing, but this should not make us forget the worst we have been through. Some, though, have been always in a better position, but they are still capable of empathy if they admit to the use of their emotional and cognitive capacities.
Our social memory, let alone our natural inborn mental capacities, creates the perfect landscape for empathy, so the lack of it nowadays may relate only to an intentional inhibition from our part. We don’t have the time to look at things from the other’s perspective. We don’t want to know how they feel, what they think, how they live. We feel like knowing this is interfering with our wellbeing, it might spoil our happiness, and destroy our best moments. This occurs mostly because even if we have been taught that empathy is great, we associate this with unhappiness in others.
We never stop to think about being empathetic with a happy person. We feel like this is not possible. If we can’t relate to the good, why would we want to feel empathy with a miserable situation? Our self-imposed mind frame inhibits both manifestations. To empathize with happiness means forgetting completely about envy and diving into the accomplishments of others. To empathize with sadness, and depression means to center on another and let the ego aside, thus not satisfying the narcissist in us.
It is increasingly difficult to be happy for the happy, than to feel sorry for the sad. We should begin to empathize with happiness in others. But that brings no satisfaction unless we learn to turn envy into admiration.