Positive Moods and Emotions 14-Empathy

Poll number: 

Question-Week ending Sunday 05/02/04:

What best describes your engagement in the emotion of empathy? Please read our Pre-Poll Commentary before taking this poll.

Pre-Poll Commentary:

Our fourteenth keyword in our poll series on moods and emotions is EMPATHY. For the purpose of this poll we will describe the meaning of EMPATHY as "identification with and understanding of another's situation or feelings."

So many times, I have watched individuals offer WORDS of help to someone who has just suffered a loss in a family or was terribly ill. The WORDS sound like this - "If I can help you in any way, just let me know." After hearing these words being spoken, I often wondered what would happen if the person who was being offered help ever called upon the people that offered it to them. Would they really come through on their promise to help?

Do we really feel the pain of others "empathetically" or do we just go through the motions to be politically correct and courteous with words of empathy? This is a touchy subject to discuss, because we would like to believe that others truly care and are empathetic towards us. But reality too often proves this theory false.

I believe that to be truly empathetic towards another's needs or feelings takes some action on one's part to help - without being asked. If you are empathetic toward the passing of someone's loved one, you need to go further than attending a funeral and whispering an "OFFER TO HELP." Perhaps a follow-up phone call or personal visit in a few weeks can fill the action requirement? Or perhaps some utilize some other positive action to better define your empathy?

So for the purpose of this poll, let's say it takes a follow-up action, to truly engage the emotion of empathy. Not just some lip service. Feeling someone's pain and unconditionally doing something to relieve it, can better describe what it feels to be empathetic.

So why is there this need to feel someone else's pain anyway? Don't we have enough pain of our own to keep us preoccupied? Do we really need to share the pain of other's? Only you can decide that answer. However, as human beings we all can derive satisfaction from sharing and helping others. It's good for our own well being to do kind deeds and help others in a time of need. Empathy is the driving emotion to enable us to do so. But remember - it takes some unconditional action on one's part - to truly be considered a complete emotion.

Let us know in this week's poll, your feelings on empathy. This poll will end on Sunday 05/02/04, when the results will be displayed.

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  1. 39% of voters chose "When I visit or speak to my elderly parent or relative," best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.
  2. 29% of voters chose "When I help my children overcome their problems," best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.
  3. 13% of voters chose "When I mail a donation to a cause I believe in," best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.
  4. 11% of voters chose "When I watch the World News broadcast, "best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.
  5. 05% of voters chose "When I visit or speak to a friend that is ill," best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.
  6. 03% of voters chose "When I help a stranger in distress," best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy.

Post-Poll Commentary:

Our top answer to the poll this week was "When I visit or speak to my elderly parent or relative," it best describes my engagement in the emotion of empathy. This is not to be construed that all elderly people are sickly or in need of empathy. Many elderly people take good care of themselves and lead healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. However, suffice it to say that this top answer is a very worthy cause for all involved.

I believe the elderly can serve as a knowledgeable resource for younger people to tap. They have lots of experiences to share and usually enjoy doing so. They have attended many classes at the "School Of Hard Knocks" and can help you Play Hooky from this prestigious institution of higher learning. You can kick into the action phase of our meaning of empathy as described above - by being a good listener of the elderly and come away a more knowledgeable person at the same time.

Practicing empathy (with the action phase included) is a very worth goal for all to practice. It's a win-win emotion, which helps everyone involved. However, keep in mind that being empathetic, should not mean that you must take on the burdens that everyone else has. Empathy practiced at its best, should be assisting others in a time of need. As with all things in life - BALANCE IS KING!