Empathy

Empathy is the ability to recognize feelings that are experienced by others. And as with all other capabilities, also empathy isn’t equally distributed among mankind. There are very empathetic people, blessed and filled with this gift named empathy. They just look at somebody and immediately know how they feel in this certain moment. Some of them even feel the same, which can be a beyond words pleasure. The downside is that this is also true for negative feelings like sadness, unhappiness or anger. As always, two sides of the coin.

And there are other, less empathetic people, like me. My parents gave me many gifts delivered in their DNA cocktail, but for some reason I forgot to say “Here!” when the empathy had been distributed. People like me don’t see that easily what other people feel. Exaggerated said, if somebody would die an emotional death next to me, I wouldn’t recognize it. Emotions of others are less visible for me. On the positive list here is that I don’t experience negative feelings of others (as long as they are not expressed violently). Sad people can not pull me down with them usually. All this leads of course to many nice misunderstandings in human communication.

But the good thing is that I am aware of my lack of empathy and so I developed other ways to get at least parts of the information I am usually blind for. Body language for example is very helpful for this purpose. The body sends all the time signals, unintentionally and unconsciously. This information can be used to conclude to a certain degree to the current emotional level of the counterpart. Small example, usual conversation between two humans. Your are observing that you can see the palms of your conversation partner many times, he/she is moving her head little to the side or starts unintentionally to simulate your gestures. These are usually positive signs. He or she is with you, likes and what you are saying and hence feels well with you. And there are much more similar signs. Of course this doesn’t work all the time and with every subject, but it fits surprisingly often.

Of course this is still far away from what empathic people receive automatically and it requires focus to observe this body language signs, but it helps empathetic deficient people like me to understand the world around. And then, at times strange things happen, e.g. during a talk with a closer person. You don’t know why, but for some reason the words and messages you receive verbally seem strange. They don’t fit into the overall picture. You know and you feel it’s not the truth. E.g. a close friend want’s to convince you he/she is alright. But you know he/she is not, you can feel it. Might this be rudimentary and short-term empathy? Ahhhhhhh, you have no idea what this empathy attack can do to a non-empathic person. It’s not logical at all, we don’t understand what happens and why. Irritation takes over. Is it possible to develop empathy? Interesting, isn’t it?

Morning

Due to some logistic reasons I decided to walk to office today morning. It’s about 5-6 km which will result in a relaxed 1 hour walk, mainly through the forest. I pass this forest nearly every day since I usually go by bicycle and I am claiming I do know nearly every tree along my path. But this morning was different. The forest appeared completely different to me … unfamiliar beautiful.

It was a clear morning, only a few clouds in an awaking blue sky. The 10 degree Celsius didn’t feel that cold and the sun has just risen and was shining through the trees on the forest track, which resulted in a striped pattern, alternating sunlight and shadows from the trees. The morning dew was still sitting on leaves and grass, but the first sun slowly made these drops disappear into¬† the air and created a fine transparent fog. This again made the sun beams visible between the trees, made them shine. And around them, all this green. Just breath taking.

And then the smell of fresh air in the woods. I couldn’t get enough into my lungs. The whole scenario was so awesome, so silent and peaceful. I never realized that beauty before and I never was that pleased, happy and thankful to be able to experience all this.

But what made the difference? I took the time to walk. I took the time to open my eyes and to watch around me. I was not just heading to office as fast as possible. I was enjoying the moment, I was living. Amazing, isn’t it?