Empathy made simple: How to embrace someone who voted for the other guy, or you never liked in the first place

Regardless of how you feel about who won or lost at any level of government, this election season generated more animosity, contempt and even hatred on both sides than any in recent memory.

Intense negativity is toxic and contagious. The polarization could get worse from here. It doesn't have to.

Today -- and any other day(!) - presents a golden opportunity, not just to lay animosity aside, but for personal transformation through the power of empathy. Here’s a simple way to do it:

Think of someone you consider an adversary, election-related or not. Don’t pick someone you hate. You can work up to that, but one step at a time. 🙂

Ask yourself these questions, thinking mainly of you, but keeping your adversary in mind -- knowing they’ve probably experienced the same things:

- Have you ever been in terrible physical pain?

- Did you ever buy clothes that you couldn’t wait to wear ,or a car you couldn’t wait to drive?

- Has anyone you loved let you down?

- If you’re a parent, did you ever watch your child sing in a choir?

- Did you ever sing your child to sleep and feel love engulf the room?

- Have you ever watched your team win in overtime?

- Have you ever been freezing cold, gotten into a hot shower, and felt your whole body relax into bliss?

- Have you ever hoped for something with every fiber of your being and watched the chance of it slip away?

- Do you remember a first kiss you had been yearning for, but thought would never happen?

- Have you ever forgiven someone, or been forgiven?

- Do you remember the best sex of your life?

- When you were a kid, do you remember telling someone what you wanted to be when you grew up?

- Did you ever feel the epitome of relief when you reached the bathroom just before it was too late?

- Did you ever sob so hard that your lungs hurt?

- Did anyone ever break your heart into a million pieces, or make it melt into pure love?

- Did you do something, even far in the past, that still fills you with pride whenever you think about it?

- Did you ever wonder why the hell you said that?

- Did you ever go fishing and feel the first tug on your line?

- Did you ever watch your child walk toward the bus or away from your car on their first day at a new school?

- Did you ever shop for a gift for hours and finally find something that was just right?

- Have you ever felt nervous watching someone strive for something that meant the world to them? Like playing a sport or acting in a play?

- Did you ever read a book or attend a concert you loved so much you didn’t want it to end?

- Did you ever feel helpless watching someone else suffer?

- Do you remember when a dream came true?

- Did you ever wake up and wonder how you could possibly make it through the day?

- Did you ever say goodbye to a sick friend or loved one for what you knew would be the last time?

- Did you ever feel better when you finally admitted you were wrong?

- Did you feel it in the pit of your stomach when someone with dementia asked you the same question they asked 30 seconds before?

- Did you ever see political yard sign for a candidate you loathed on the lawn of your "adversary's" house? Yeah, well, so what?

Many spiritual teachings, particularly from the East, hold that we can feel empathy because we are all part of one being – a universal, indivisible loving Consciousness.

Whether or not that’s true, this much is for sure: Empathy makes us happier and makes the world a better place.

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