Empathic Kindness Theme 1 – Cultivate Curiosity About Strangers

EK-001aAs we get started with this six week class, I want you to be aware that the inspiration for it came from an article called “Six Habits of Highly Empathic People” by Roman Krznaric. Each of the six themes, what I will post and summarize on each of the next six Sundays, is one of these habits (or adapted slightly from it).

To kick things off, Krznaric suggests that to build empathy we need to cultivate curiosity about strangers. He says, “Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own.”

To do this, I suggest completing a spontaneous kind act for a stranger each day this week. These are fairly easy to perform as opportunities to do so are being presented to us any time we encounter another person. They can be as simple as a smile. But that’s just to get started.

To really get at the concept of this theme, plan in advance and then perform one slightly larger kind act for someone you do not know. And your action needs to include you interacting with this person in a way that helps you get to know her/him. I encourage you to put your heart into the action and let the act of doing so warm you.

Ready to play?


1 Comment

  1. On Tuesday, we went to vote on some ammendments to the Texas constitution. No important offices were up for election so the turn out was very small. When we were leaving an older man (well, we are older too) was coming in and began to make conversation with us. He made some comments about the President and while not in a hypercritical way, it was obviously not very supportive. It was said somewhat jestingly. My husband, who has never met a stranger, made a somewhat neutral reply in a light hearted manner, and I chimed in with some simple friendly response.

    After the exchange as we were going out of the building, I said to my husband ” He never knew that we have voted for Obama and are very liberal Democrats.” When we moved from MA to TX, I was not really prepared for the political and social impact on me. We have lived here eight years for about eight months a year, and sometimes it is just simpler and in the long run kinder to keep our real thoughts and feelings to ourselves. That makes it easier for me to see that these people who are so different from me are also very nice people whom I really like. But it is really safer not to discuss politics or religion.

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