The Paw Print

Losing Perspective

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Macy Howard, Staff Writer

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It is somewhat easy to be sympathetic to those less fortunate. We can look at people who are suffering financially, emotionally, or physically and feel pity that they have to go through that. However, it is significantly harder to have empathy and actually understand how others feel about an area of struggle in their life.

It becomes easy to take for granted the simple things in life and become annoyed or even upset when small insignificant things in your life don’t go as planned. In our world today, where social media allows us to see the highlights of everyone’s lives, it can be easy to get caught up in comparison and lose perspective on how blessed we are and what is most important in life.

Just over a week ago, I broke my collarbone playing in a soccer game. As painful and disappointing as the injury was, it opened my eyes to many aspects of my life that I had become accustomed to taking for granted. One day I was playing sports and involved in activities, the next I was barely able to get myself dressed or carry my books down the hall. It was frustrating and discouraging, but I’ve realized through being unable to do practically anything that there is so much I have to be thankful for.

I realized how fortunate I was that I was healthy enough to play sports and be involved in other activities, and I also realized how blessed I was to have close friends who were willing to take care of me when I couldn’t do things myself. I now view everything I love about my life as a blessing because I understand and have experienced what it’s like to be unable to do the things I’m passionate about. Being injured forced me to stop and examine my life, and as a result my perspective was shifted to see the blessings in my life I had missed before.

Understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy can help us to gain a healthier perspective on life and on the lives of others around us. When you are sympathetic, you feel bad for a person, while being empathic is feeling bad with someone and truly trying to understand their pain. If we live with an attitude of empathy, we are able to not simply feel bad for people, but we are able to come alongside people and put ourselves in their shoes so we can help them work through the hurt together. Empathy also significantly lessens opportunities for judgement and jealousy because it forces you to think about the reason behind someone’s actions and truly try to understand their struggles. This in turn prevents us from being narrow minded and helps us to see the blessings in our lives as we try to remind others of the blessings in theirs.

Social media and technology can be debilitating when trying to empathize with people. We see the highlights of people’s lives and we scroll through image after image, scene after scene without forming any attachment to the people we follow or the characters we see in movies or tv shows. One major way we can improve in empathy is by reading books. Books allow us to really get attached to a character and how they are developing and we can start to empathize with the situations in their story, and the skills you gain from empathizing with a book character can transfer over to real life.

Empathy can bring to light the important things in life. If we could all remember to take a step back, change our perspective and focus on all the things in our lives we can be grateful for, I believe we will be able to live more fulfilled and content lives.

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