Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It

Empathy, according to cultural thinker Roman Krznaric, is “an ideal that has the power both to transform our own lives and to bring about fundamental social change. Empathy can create a revolution.”

And the good news is that, unless you fall into the 2 percent of the general population who completely lack empathy (i.e., psychopaths), it’s a skill that you can cultivate and deepen.

So what is empathy? In his most recent book, Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It, Krznaric starts by explaining what it’s not. It’s not sympathy, which connotes pity, nor is it merely compassion, which means sharing in another’s suffering. (The Buddhist notion of compassion, Krznaric notes, is more actively empathic, but he advises against using these two terms as synonyms.)

by Paula Moore