This being Christmas week 2021, I thought that I would be writing a short message of best wishes for a wonderful, safe and happy holiday to all of my readers, friends and family.
And then something happened on my way to the keyboard.
I read a wonderful article in the Globe and Mail newspaper this morning. Scott Stirrett wrote an opinion piece entitled ‘The World Needs More Compassion, Not Empathy’.
Unfortunately, the full article requires a subscription – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-world-needs-more-compassion-not-empathy/
In it, he clearly defines the difference between compassion and empathy and then makes his point very clearly.
Empathy is trying to understand what another person is going through and putting yourself ‘in their shoes… stepping into someone’s mind to experience their feelings’.
Compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. In practical terms, he goes on to say, an empathetic response to your friend getting into a car accident is to visualize what it feels like for them, whereas a compassionate response is about asking your friend how they are feeling and how you can be of support.
To be empathetic is to say ‘I understand what you’ve been going through. I’ve been there’. To be compassionate is to say, ‘I can understand your distress and want to help’.
In this holiday season, be safe and happy, but more than anything, be compassionate to our friends, our families and to those in our circle that need our help the most. And they are out there.