Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Empathy For The Devil?

You know what I think this world needs more of? Empathy. That's right, I said it.

It's perhaps my biggest complaint with the human beings I inhabit this planet with. Not to toot my own horn, but I live my entire life by this one simple motto: "don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes." Or something to that effect.

I think so many of us are so preoccupied with ourselves--and how the whole world revolves around us--that we cause ourselves undue amounts of stress and complications harmful to our overall well being.

Case in point, I overheard a conversation the other day that went like this:

Woman is selling her mother's house. Her mother recently passed. She's been in and out of the house now for the past two months getting everything ready. She was riding in the car with her broker, when he relayed to her that he, too, once had to sell his mother's house after she passed. And that for nearly a decade he could never go anywhere near the place, let alone set foot inside the house.

Do you know what this woman took away from this revelation? She was speaking to her friend, and her response went: "Gee, projecting much? Guess he wanted to make me feel guilty about being so gung-ho to sell my mother's house."

And I went: bwaaa? How did you get this from that? WTF, woman! What if the guy was sincerely trying to empathize with your situation? Did you ever think of that? Why does everything someone says have to have a motive behind it?

This right there. This is what I'm talking about. I used a specific example above, but let me tell you: I see this ALL the time! People are so wrapped up in their own needs and egos that they assume anything someone else says or does is some hidden commentary or criticism of their lives.

Please, people. Get over you. Not everything that happens in life is the universe trying to butt into your affairs. Instead of readily taking offense and thinking the worse of someone for something they said or did, how about taking a deep breath and stepping back? That's right, there. Now, put yourself in that person's shoes and ask yourself: which is more likely? That a complete stranger is being passive-aggressive toward me and trying to sneak some criticism past? Or that maybe--just maybe--this person is being sincere with no hidden agenda?

What's that rule about the simplest explanation most likely being the correct one?

Yeah, that.

Even if giving the benefit of doubt to people around you turns out wrong 1 time out of 10, if you ask me it's better going through life employing a little modicum of empathy toward others than it is to assume that everyone is out to DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!*

I think this is why I'm always described by people who know me as being so calm and stress free. It is true that I have a very mild-mannered, easy going nature. And that, for the most part, stress rarely gets to me.

And I'm here to say that this is the reason why. I don't go through life acting like everything is about me. I don't constantly try to read between the lines of what people say, or to second guess their actions. People who do this, in my opinion, won't live to see 60. Is it really worth it?

I don't know about you all, but I plan to live to be 200!

*For those who don't know this excellent line from a particularly great, award-winning movie, click here and ye shall be illuminated.


Rodney said...

There was a song written about this very topic. "What It's Like" by Everlast.

But I am 100% in agreement with you on this. Empathy is in very short supply in this world.

Yvonne said...

Wait. You mean this post is NOT about ME??? --i kid, i kid! :) Okay, first, I might want to live to see 100 but 200? Not so much. Second, I totally agree with your mind-set. Walking around thinking and assuming that every thing is about "you" is pretty sad. The example you gave of that woman, wow! I have a lot of those to recount at well. Some people call it being jaded and others try to justify this behavior or "way of thinking" by saying that we live in a "Every man for himself" world. That last statement is not entirely untrue, however, as you so simply put it, we must not judge or assume anything about anyone until we've walked a mile in their shoes.
And third, this was a great morning thought provoking post!

Kim Kasch said...

200 - only if they come up with something a whole lot better than Botox - I can't knowingly put poison in me. ;) and what the heck would I look like at 200 when I look like this now?

I often think I think to much about "I"

getyourselfconnected said...

"What's that rule about the simplest explanation most likely being the correct one?"
Occam's Razor.

Great post. I gotta admit at times I get wrapped up in how things are affecting me only, just ask my wife. What's funny to me is that in real life people (at leat here in Boston) are wound ultra tight, but they are easy going and fun on their Facebook or what not.

I only drink a milkshake on the Bandy tract.

200? Didn't you see the Highlander episode "Prodigal Son" with Segur?

David Batista said...

Are you kidding? Prodigal Son is one of those HL shows I've watched more than perhaps any other ep. I *love* that one! :)

"I don't want the cub, I want the WOLF!"

"You're not from Jacques the bootmaker?"

"I thought we'd play a game of Gin Rummy. Are you always this antisocial?"

As for the 200 comment I made. I'm a sci-fi fan, remember folks? I have a pretty good feeling that medical science will advance within my lifetime as to prolong our lifespans considerably. Reaching 200 will be like reaching 80 nowadays. Or so I predict. I allow the possibility that I might could be wrong. :)

getyourselfconnected said...

Its all about telomeres, hard to get around that problem. I hold out hope as well.

The Frisky Virgin said...

Wow. How in heck did she come to that conclusion?!

Great post! Absolutely true.

P.S. Did you watch part one and two of Mildred Pierce? What did you think? This weekend HBO will show a 15 minute preview for Game Of Thrones!

David Batista said...

Frisky -- I'm saving Mildred Pierce for this weekend. I'll watch parts one and two, and then be ready in time to watch the next parts. :) And I'm skipping the Thrones preview because I don't want the experience of the first episode to be ruined just for a teasing 15 minutes. I'm holding out for the full course meal!

GYC -- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that a causal link between telomere length and aging has never been proven? Shorter telomeres are observed as we age, but as of right now no one knows for sure if this is the cause of aging or the result of it, right? And besides, I thought I remember reading that 200 years or so would be the limit even if there was a link and we discovered a way to prolong lifespans as a result.

Hmm, this convo is now giving me some food for thought on the writing front . . .

Jennifer Hillier said...

Yes yes yes. So feeling this post. So many people I know make everything that happens about them. They literally choose to take things personally. Now mind you, I used to be like this when I was younger, but I grew up. I got over myself.

Great post, David.

Botanist said...

Well, that example left me floored. I don't see too much of that around here, folks generally do seem a lot more empathic and it does indeed make for a lot less stress in daily dealings. Long live empathy!

getyourselfconnected said...

Hey David,
there is no doubt telomeres get shorter over time. You are right there is no absolute connection, but molecular pathways are a tough thing. It could be many protein factors, enzymes, and signaling peptides key off shorter telomeres and move toward senescence. It's just my opinion, but I believe there is a connection there.

David Batista said...

Oh I believe there is, too. There's no denying it. I just meant that, scientifically speaking, there has been no official causal link made. Still, even if we can prevent telomeres from shortening during cell replication, we'd still have to contend with chronic disease, increased insulin resistance, and other risk factors that contribute to aging. Reducing the damage caused by these, in my opinion, will go a long way toward prolonging the natural human lifespan to around 200. Along with, of course, regular exercise and eliminating common stress factors (yeah, easier said than done).

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