Habit 3 -“Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.”

Dear Soulseekers,

Ready for a new habit to tackle? How have you been doing so far? Are you becoming more empathic or maybe just growing an awareness? Both are steps in the right direction.

Habit #3 is a little bit harder. It involves trying another person’s life. For me, this will be easier done through volunteer work, but I also get a little dose of it through my student’s at school: the ones who arrive at 7:45 am already reeking of pot; the ones who are habitually late and look like they slept in their clothes and just rolled out of bed; the ones who come to me during the day because they are hungry and they know I keep snacks for them. I am not experiencing a life like theirs, but as a parent I can infer what life at home might be like. It makes me thankful that my life and my children’s lives are not that way. It also provides insight to be more understanding about my experience with them in the classroom. If a student comes to school high because their parents smoke on the way to school, thye are not going to be able to pay attention or sit still or stay awake. Same thing if they’re hungry.

Mission work, volunteer work or just getting out in your community will broaden your horizons and expose you to how others live. Learning about our differences helps to build empathy. George Orwell provides quite the example for trying on another person’s life. He dressed up as a tramp and lived on the streets of East London with the beggars and vagabonds. He gained some new insights and realized that the homeless aren’t “drunken scoundrels” as he once thought. His insights can be found in his book Down and Out in Paris and London and it resulted in a dramatic change in his beliefs, priorities and relationships (Krznaric). Now we probably aren’t going to submerse ourselves in a different life in the way that Orwell did, but definitely putting aside some time to help others will give us a better understanding into our misconceptions about others, such as the homeless. The holidays are right around the corner. Maybe we can use some of the time to join the bell ringers of the Salvation Army or work in the local food bank. I am definitely going to try.

Next week I will take a look at some of the barriers to empathy. I know I am guilty of some of these – maybe all (cringe). It’s easy to get hardened sometimes and frustrated with people. Not an excuse. But a reminder that empathy is a practice; it’s intentional. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way. But we’re human. We are flawed and full of sin. We can continue to improve and grow, and that is definitely my goal.

Until next week,

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I'm honest, sarcastic, funny, loyal, a goal setter, determined, health conscious, a dreamer, a bibliophile, and a creative.

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