Empathy and its role in our community
Montville is a great place to live, and we have so much support from and within our community. We have strong leadership and a community that is sincerely willing to go out on a limb for one another. There are some skills we can use to keep Montville a wonderful place to live. Through empathy, we can be accepting of all the people within our community, be kinder to one another and in general be happier as a community.
What is empathy?
Empathy is your ability to feel feelings from another person's point of view. Whether you feel for your favorite sports team rallying for the big score, that overworked critical care worker taking care of you in the hospital emergency room, or your community leader's facing a “damned if you do, damned if you don't” tough decision, you understand the position they're in. It's that feeling that gives you a drive to help, to have a little patience, to cheer someone on, to make a donation, or keep someone in your thoughts or prayers. In essence, it's feeling another person's feelings because you have tried to understand the position they're in. You can put yourself in their shoes, maybe you've even been there.
Why can't everyone do this?
The good news is that even though empathy is somewhat genetic, it can be learned. You can learn to be more understanding of others’ feelings and perspectives by reading, research or even through your own experience. There are good reasons to learn empathy. The American Psychological Association article Emotional intelligence for a better community, explains communities as a whole are happier when more people understand their own feelings and take into account the feelings of others within the community. The study shows that a higher degree of empathy tends to indicate a greater degree of acceptance and progress toward community projects. People with more empathy tend to have more friends, better job success, and are overall happier. This makes sense, because learning to be more empathetic helps people be kinder and more understanding towards others. This is a trait that we could all use in our day-to-day lives. In other words, everyone in our town benefits when we all learn to be more empathetic. We will be able to listen to each other better, even when we disagree.
Good news, Montville already does this!
There are so many examples of our community leaders, groups and members showing empathy, kindness and being inclusive of one another. Like when our residents built and donated face shields for first responders, or raised money for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). We volunteer to feed one another, we Honor Montville First Responders saving our community from the pandemic, and we support our community's minorities to bring change and end racism.
Good job, right?
Good job definitely! But nobody's perfect and a great thing about humans is our capacity to learn and grow and be better every day. So let's cheer each other on and push for better each day and help each other up when we don't show our best selves. It's not about calling out bad behavior, but coaching for better. In researching for this article, we found many examples of where we can do better, and resources to help us do better. The books, videos, and articles in OneMontville's links section will help you get started on your journey.
What are your thoughts?
We do such a great job in working together, and we all care about our community — Do you want to keep Montville wonderful? What would be more ways in which people could contribute? Use the social buttons on this article and your own social conversation on any of Montville's Facebook groups.