Empathy A Day

I’m beginning to think I have ADHD when it comes to this blog.

Squirrel!!

My ideas about what I want it to be keep changing.

From snarky to sympathetic.  From educational to frivolous.

The idea that ran through my head the other morning was “The Empathy Project”.

Then I googled “empathy project” and discovered there are a few organizations using that name, so I changed it to “Empathy A Day”.  Like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  But in this case, “Empathy A Day” would bring sweetness and light into a life.  Project title notwithstanding, it doesn’t mean there will be daily postings.  It’s just a title that worked for me.

Anywho…

The thought process along with that idea went something like this:

What if I took this blog and started each post with a quote that resonated with me, then wrote out a little commentary about that resonation?  Would that little project produce empathy and a reduction in judgement in the tiny little society that reads this blog?  Would those society debutantes share what they learned with their personal society, spreading a message of peace and love, sweetness and light around the world, one person at a time?

Empathy is defined as: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” (Merriam-Webster).

It turns out one of my greatest strengths is my talent for empathy (Thanks, Lisa, for your post about finding one’s strengths!)  I wasn’t surprised when I finished the online survey through Strengths Finder and empathy came in at Number 1.  I’ve always known I’m empathetic.  Sometimes, it’s gotten me into trouble because I’ll put others’ needs far ahead of my own.  But more often, empathy allows me to connect with others and touch their lives in some way.  I like that.

I want to do something with that.

So I thought I’d try combining empathy with writing and see if my two favorite (best?) things produced something wonderful.

I realize there are a gazillion people out there with formal training in sociology and psychology who have far more expertise in studying and promoting empathy.  Brene’ Brown immediately comes to mind with her study on what she calls “wholeheartedness”; on being authentic.  People like her have made whole careers out of the search for empathy.  I can’t compete with that.  My degree is in Political Science, for pete’s sake, and I work in contracts management.  Where’s the empathy in either of those?

I’m no more or less human than anyone else.  I get angry and frustrated and ashamed just like the rest of the population.  However, underlying those negative emotions runs a steady stream of kindness and love.  My deepest thoughts, even in the midst of fiery f-bomb attacks shared with friends over the day job cleaning crews’ inability to actually clean anything (is it that hard to dump the trash, people?), carry an empathetic theme, allowing me to forgive even as I vent or berate.

I’ve been told I have a huge heart.  I want to open it up to the world beyond my immediate world and hope someone, somewhere, is touched enough by my thoughts to share them with someone else, spreading a message of light.

Time will tell.  I hope you’ll join me to find out.

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