Introspection is out, and outrospection is in. Philosopher and author Roman Krznaric explains how we can help drive social change by stepping outside ourselves.
Roman Krznaric: I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.
It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising.
For an overview of my ideas on empathy, have a look at this article on The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People.
But the big question is this: What practical action should each of us take to create a more empathic world?
Here’s my easy 4 step guide to becoming an Empathic Revolutionary.
2. Read the book
Every revolution needs a handbook and this is it. The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live reveals how to bring empathic practice into everyday life, drawing on inspiration from the panorama of human history. ‘A fascinating rattlebag of intelligent, stimulating essays.’ – Financial Times
3. Join the community
Subscribe to my empathy blog Outrospection. Check out the Culture of Empathy Magazine for empathy news and ideas. Connect with fellow empathists through Ashoka’s Start Empathy campaign. Discover grass-roots empathy organisations like the Parents Circle. And how about helping me found the world’s first Empathy Museum?
Note from Films For Action: We also encourage you to sign up as a member on our site so you can contribute to our community. The whole mission of Films For Action is driven by this philosophy of creating an empathic society.
4. Deepen your thinking
I’ve written a number of reports, essays and articles that delve into empathy from a range of angles – educational, political, artistic and philosophical. Here’s a selection of writings to chew over.
‘The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People’ – published by the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley.
‘Five ways to Expand Your Empathy’ – the most popular post from my Outrospection blog.
‘Time to Swap Introspection for Outrospection’ – on the art of empathy travel, from The Scotsman newspaper.
‘Empathy becomes a revolutionary force for change’ – Wired Magazine 2013 Trends
‘Empathy’ – from The Observer’s Ideas for Modern Living series.