I’m a big reader. I love to read. I always have. As a child, I spent hours and hours reading in my room. As an adult, my favorite vacations are the ones with no plans and a ton of books in my Kindle app.
I’ve been told I’m “too empathetic”. I’m not sure that’s possible, except that I am easily heartbroken over matters that aren’t mine. I know correlation doesn’t mean causation. And I’m not saying people that don’t read have no empathy. However, I think the more you read, the more opportunity you have to see into other people’s feelings. Even if (maybe even especially if) it’s fictional. I’ve spent my life reading about other people’s lives, feelings, and motivations. It certainly helps me apply those in real life when I see other people. I can imagine their lives, feelings, and motivations. I can know they are different than my own and try to understand them. That’s empathy, people.
I recently read “A Man Called Ove” (which incidentally was a LOVELY book). It’s about an old, grumpy, Swedish guy. When I first started it, I wondered if it was the book for me. I mean, we couldn’t be more different, right? I’m so glad I stuck with it. It demonstrates perfectly that you might think you understand someone’s motivation and feelings and think you have nothing in common and you would be completely wrong. That you could have a lot in common with someone you think is totally different than you.
Want more empathy? Pick up a book.