3 Tips for Practising Empathy With Your Kids

Roman KrznaricMy six-year-old daughter said something interesting the other day. ‘Dad, why do you shout at me when really you’re upset with your work?’ She’s perceptive, and probably far more perceptive than I realise. It made me think about how large the gulf of understanding between parents and children can be. And that gulf sometimes takes the form of an empathy gap – a failure to be able to step into their shoes. So I’ve written an article about it, which you’ll find at the Huffington Post, called 3 Tips for Practising Empathy With Your Kids.

The ideas in the article draw on a new series of over twenty microvideos I’ve just done with Kids in the House on empathy and parenting. Check them out here.

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Top 10 books and films for Holocaust Memorial Day

Maus

Here’s a guest post from the Head Curator of The Empathy Library, Sophia Blackwell.

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, The Empathy Library has chosen a selection of its resources to share, educate and inspire; to help us remember those who are no longer with us, reach a better understanding of the impact on the survivors and their children, and move towards a present and future where empathy, compassion and dialogue take the place of intolerance and conflict. There are, naturally, many sad stories in the list, but also stories of friendship, love and endurance.

1. Schindler’s List

Shot in black and white, Spielberg’s cinematic rendering of Thomas Keneally’s novel Schindler’s Ark does a fine job of bringing the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler to life. Both book and film made clear that Schindler was no saint; rather a dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist whose growing friendship with his Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern opened his eyes to the suffering around him. (http://ow.ly/HZTE0)

2. Maus

A classic graphic novel based on the author’s experience of interviewing his father Vladek about his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II. Many survivors’ children felt that their childhood was cut short or distorted by their parents’ experiences and the mark on the author’s life is painfully clear throughout. An exceptional story, but also recognisable to anyone with parents. (http://ow.ly/HZTTs)

3. Encounter Point

Encounter Point takes a look at the growing grassroots peace movement among Israelis and Palestinians. Moving beyond sensational images of conflict, the film follows these young people’s journeys into the most unlikely places to confront hatred within their communities and work towards a grassroots solution. (http://ow.ly/HZU10)

4. The Arrival

The beautifully illustrated story of a migrant told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. As he is helped along by strangers, he hears their own stories of suffering, courage, survival and hope. (http://ow.ly/HZUe2)

5. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

A highly recommended guide to embedding empathy and compassion in your day-to-day life, applying the concepts within these books will guide the reader towards a fostering more compassion in the world. (http://ow.ly/HZUpm)

6. Molly’s Pilgrim

A well-known American children’s book about a young Russian-Jewish girl trying to fit in at school during her first Thanksgiving. An ideal read to help children understand the difficulties faced by young children from different cultures as they try to adapt. (http://ow.ly/HZUwT)

7. The Paris Architect

How far would you go to help a stranger? What would you risk? Would you trade your life for another’s? A fascinating novel of Paris under the Occupation in all its opulence, fear and contradictions. Malcolm Gladwell called the author an ‘up-and-coming Ken Follett,’ and this suspenseful story is definitely worth a look. (http://ow.ly/HZUFL)

8. Mina Tannenbaum

While mainly about female friendship, the central story in this 1990s French film also touches on the artistic and troubled heroine’s relationship with her father, a Holocaust survivor, and how that forms and shapes her own outlook on life in contrast to her more carefree friends. (http://ow.ly/HZUNW)

9. Beyond Right and Wrong

A woman who survived the death of her five children wonders if she can forgive the man who killed them. A victim’s daughter strikes up an unusual friendship with the bomber who killed her father. And two men—one Palestinian, one Israeli—form a bond after tragedies claim their daughters. These survivors of conflicts in Rwanda, Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine share their stories of loss and recovery in their own words. (http://ow.ly/HZUTa)

10. The Man Who Planted Trees

Set aside five minutes of your lunch break or grab a coffee and indulge in this Oscar-winning short film which, though only made in the late eighties, is largely lost to history. It tells the story of a man in Provence who by the strength of his indomitable will and love for the land, transforms a barren wasteland into a verdant landscape. A quiet reminder to us to have more reverence for the earth and for others. (http://ow.ly/HZV8k)

The Empathy Library was founded by Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy. It is curated by Sophia Blackwell.  Join the Empathy Library here.

 

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Tolstoy’s top tips for happiness in 2015

Tolstoy change yourselfBBC Radio 4 is celebrating the New Year with a marathon ten-hour dramatisation of Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace. As part of the festivities, I’ve written an article for the BBC on seven lessons we can learn from the life of the bearded sage for the art of living in 2015. Read the article here, which is based on my book The Wonderbox (published in the US as How Should We Live?). But if you want a quick taster of his top tips for a happy life:

1.Keep an open mind

2.Practice empathy

3.Make a difference

4.Master the art of simple living

5.Beware your contradictions

6.Become a craftsman

7.Expand your social circle

And here’s a wonderful short video clip showing Tolstoy himself putting some of the above into practice:

Happy New Year, Roman

Posted in conversation, creativity, empathy, ethics, family, history, literature, love, money, politics, simple living | 2 Comments

Why We Should Give Video Cameras to the Homeless

I recently came across a powerful, short video called This is Adam, about a homeless guy living on the streets of San Francisco. He had all sorts of interesting and insightful things to say, amongst them this: ‘I notice every day that people everywhere are losing their compassion and empathy – not just for homeless people but for society in general.’ What’s really striking is that we see the world as if through Adam’s eyes, including how people ignore him as they pass by. Read More »

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Who are the five greatest empathy heroes of all time?

5 empathy heroes

Who are the greatest empathy heroes of all time? I’ve looked through the history books and come up with my top five. OK, you know St Francis of Assisi, but what about Gunther Walraff, Beatrice Webb or John Howard Griffin? You can find out all about them in my new article at YES! Magazine.

I’ve been rather busy with my electronic pen and have written another article, in Time Magazine, on five ways to be more empathic. My advice ranges from chatting to your local barista to introducing empathy tests in the office and getting babies to teach your kids how to step into other people’s shoes.

These articles are based on my book just published in the US, Empathy: Why It Matters and How to Get It.

 

Posted in empathy, empathy through experience, history | 1 Comment

Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It

Empathy USA cover low resEmpathy inspires with a unique combination of teaching, storytelling, and a serious call to action.’ – Brené Brown, author of the New York Times # 1 Bestseller Daring Greatly

I’m delighted to announce that my book Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It, has just been published in the US by Penguin Books (it has been published in the UK under the title Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution).

The book  describes how empathy – the art of stepping into the shoes of another person and looking and the world through their eyes – can  improve our relationships, boost our creativity and tackle social issues from racial prejudice to violent conflicts.

Drawing on over 10 years of research, you will learn about human libraries, how babies can teach empathy, and discover the six habits of highly empathic people.

 

BUY THE BOOK (US)

 

As part of the launch of the book, I’m also announcing creation of the world’s first Empathy Museum, an experiential adventure space for taking imaginative journeys into other people’s lives. Please visit the Emathy Museum website and watch the two-minute video, Step Into the Empathy Museum.

Posted in empathy, empathy museum | 1 Comment

Empathy Library Competition

ELlogo

You may have heard about the online Empathy Library I founded a few months ago. It’s been fantastic to watch it grow. It received over 100,000 visits in its first few weeks of life, and now contains reviews of hundreds of books and films which have been entered by its thousands of users. Anyone can join and add their favourites.
Read More »

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Welcome to the Festival of Love

What Is Love exhibit Southbank Festival of LoveI was recently at London’s Southbank Centre for the launch of their fabulous summer Festival of Love. What made the occasion particularly special for me was that the two-month festival, running throughout July and August, has been based around the different varieties of love in Ancient Greece that appear in my book The Wonderbox. To set the scene I gave the opening talk on these forgotten approaches to the art of loving, discussing eros (sexual passion), philia (friendship), storge (familial love), pragma (mature love), ludus (playful love), agape (selfless love) and philautia (self-love). Read More »

Posted in art, creativity, emotions, love | 1 Comment

In Ronald Duncan’s Writing Hut

Ronald Duncan's writing hutI am sitting in a tiny, sparse stone hut at the top of a North Devon cliff, overlooking the sea. Outside is an enticing sign: ‘Ronald Duncan’s Writing Hut is Open’. This is where the West Country poet and playwright – best known for writing the libretto for Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia – used to spend his working days. Read More »

Posted in deathstyle, empathy, literature, seize the day, simple living | Tagged | 1 Comment

Let’s base World Cup teams on star sign and shoe size!

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, whose birthday is on February 5, would be a star player in the Aquarius zodiac team.

As football fever envelops the planet, with all eyes turned towards Brazil, I want you to imagine a different World Cup. Each country sends their national team as usual, but then all the players are pooled together and divided into teams based on their astrological star sign. So Virgos play Leos, and Aquarians are pitted against Aries, with each team having players from a mix of countries. Who would win overall? Perhaps the power of Taurus, the bull, would be no match for the sharp sting of Scorpio. We might imagine other World Cups, where teams are based on shoe size – the clodhopping size elevens against the nimble-toed eights – or maybe the favourite colour of each player. Read More »

Posted in empathy, ethics, history, sport | Leave a comment
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