Updated September 2021

Does it sometimes feel as though you’re surrounded by self-serving, self-centred idiots?  Only interested in themselves and their experiences in life? And definitely not listening to what matters to you or anyone else?

You’re not being paranoid.

It seems that studies at the University of Michigan show there’s been a steep decline in empathy.

We don’t have to look far to see that it’s right in front of us every day online and in the media.  And it’s hurting.  It’s toxic and leads to cruelty and indifference to the pain and hurts of others.

We don’t want to be part of this.  It never leads to a happier life experience. And we hurt ourselves in the process.

So how happy and successful do you suppose these non-empathetic folk are?

A thought to conjure with:

Before putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.

So how does empathy help with our greater happiness and success?

Think of what empathy is. It’s a quality that emotionally connects us to one another. And as we enhance our empathetic skills we discover that it not only supports our personal relationships but also our business relationships.

If you’d like to know more about the different forms of empathy you can find it here.

I’m simply referring to the overall empathy we as human beings require that is the overarching building block of our happiness and success in all areas of life. Empathy that supports you in:

Being able to motivate those you work with.

Having a better understanding of how those around you feel, be they partners in life or partners in business ventures.

Finding it easier to deal with and manage the negativity of others.

Being better at understanding your perspective and the perspectives of others, so you can work together through conflicts.

Having a better understanding of the unspoken words in communications.

Being more aware of the needs of your partners or fellow workers or customers.

1. Diminish your problems

When we focus on ourselves alone our problems loom larger, and our world gets smaller. But when we become more inclusive of others our world expands, our own difficulties drift to the periphery of our mind and feel less threatening, and more distant. 

We’re all in this life together, sharing the same planet, with the same hopes, fears and dreams. 

And the more time you spend in learning to understand the people around you, the more successful and happier you’ll be.

2. Expand your boundaries

If you could experience people around you as yourself, you wouldn’t need to be taught to love, to care, to be empathetic. Because caring for yourself is ingrained within the very nature of your existence.  Empathy is your natural state.

This inclusiveness definitely has to touch humanity if many of the world’s challenges are to be healed.

And on a smaller scale it solves many of our own challenges.

If you’d like to improve relationships, to understand what your customers, or clients, need and want, or even to understand why others see you the way they do, practice the art of imaginatively putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is the art of empathy.

This ability to stand in another’s shoes facilitates more happiness and wellbeing in your own life.

I’m willing to bet you’d be happy with this as an outcome. It’s a win/win.

(To learn how to become more expansive click here.)

3. Enhance your empathy skill

When someone you love, is sad or hurt in any way you feel empathy for them.  You want to support them. To be there for them. That’s what you want to broaden.

No matter what’s happened in the past, extending those feelings of compassion and empathy towards those who aren’t close to you, even to the most challenging people you meet will make it easier to deal with them.

A complete turnaround may not happen instantly, but don’t let that deter you from knowing that it will someday.

Understanding the motivations and fears of the most negative people in your circle and becoming generally more inclusive of others expands you and your world, leading you to become a better leader, and a better person.

It might seem like an uphill struggle today, but it will develop the strength you need for tomorrow.  Learn from it. Don’t give up.

(To discover how to be less negative click here.)

4. A formula for self-empathy

You will never grow to your fullest potential unless you plant seeds of joy, love, fulfillment, hope and success. Nature can only return to you what you plant. Both within you and in the life of those around you.

You’re probably your biggest critic and in need of a hearty dose of self-empathy.

Remember your true value is rooted in who you are, not in who you’re not. So stop harping on about your shortcomings and follow this simple formula to find that place inside of you where nothing seems impossible.

Believe in yourself.

Direct empathy inwards and stop fighting against yourself. Challenges only live as long as you are conscious of them and you as much as anyone deserve the comfort that empathy brings.

Take your attention away from the multitude of reasons why you cannot achieve your ideal life experience, why you can’t create the success and good fortune you desire, and concentrate your attention entirely upon seeing yourself as the one you’d love to be.

Let your dreams be louder and greater than your inner critic.

Remember you have the ability to see others for how awesome they are, and as you act on this ability, don’t forget to show yourself the same courtesy.

Habits to enhance your empathy skills

Treat others with compassion and kindness

Be open with loved ones

Be attentive to those you love and offer physical affection

Use your imagination

Pay attention to what’s going on around you

Stop being so judgey

Offer to help when you’re able or volunteer when you can

If you need a little help in really defining empathy…this video by Brene Brown will do the trick. Plus it’s cute.


Encourage one another.

Love Elle



Elle Sommer is the author of 4 books and a workbook. Her latest publications are a series called The Power of Consciousness, and you will find all three books in this trilogy now available on Kindle. She shares quotes, inspiration and positive vibes on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And her greatest desire is to encourage and inspire others to create not just a good life, but a phenomenal life.


  1. Dear Elle, I’m shocked to hear this: “It seems that studies at the University of Michigan show there’s been a steep decline in empathy.” I so agree that empathy benefits oneself as much as it does others. Let’s set ourselves straight.

    • Hi Sandra…Sadly, I wasn’t surprised to discover this at all. Judging by the insensitive and judgmental comments both spoken and written…we’re clearly losing our way. I like your call to action. Yes. Let’s set ourselves straight. 🙂

  2. Great article and reminder that the empathy is so needed in our interactions with others. The study is indeed shocking. Having compassion and empathy for ourselves helps, so that we are in a better position to give it to others. Love the video. Brené Brown has so much amazing information. Thank you!

    • Hi Cathy…isn’t that study something…I’m sure it’s become even worse since then judging by everything we hear and read these days. That Brene Brown vid is awesome isn’t it?

  3. Empathy is so important. It has to start with extending it to ourselves and then expanding to others. Love this quote:

    “You will never grow to your fullest potential unless you plant seeds of joy, love, fulfillment, hope and success. Nature can only return to you what you plant. Both within you and in the life of those around you.”

    • Hi Debbie…glad you enjoyed the article…it’s a great reminder to us all to practice a little more empathy on a daily basis. 🙂

  4. Hi Elle. I read a great book a while ago on empathy. One of the things I learned was that in the lead-up to the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama made empathy one of his major campaign themes. Here’s some of what he had to say:

    “There’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit — our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steelworker, the immigrant cleaning your dorm room. . . . We live in a culture that discourages empathy, a culture that too often tells us that our principal goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe and entertained.”

    Thank you for writing about empathy. More than just an individual’s feel-good emotion, it can also be a collective force with the power to change society.

    • Hello Linda…what an awesome quote you shared. Not one I’d heard before…but as I mentioned to Joseph in his comment…it’s totally about inclusion. Seeing ourselves as one on this journey of life. Thank you for these inspirational words. 🙂

  5. Joseph Appaloosa

    Another great article Elle
    And “yes” that little vid was awesome !
    I remember my aunt Sunny saying that “you empathize with someone (connect as you would say) and you have sympathy for someone ( no connection there) and that to truly do either one you must first realize that both come from the heart – but down different paths”.
    Your article has definitely shed some light on it for me – one is about inclusion with and one is about insulation from . . . .
    Thanks, Elle, Write On !

    • Hello Joseph…always good to see you and read your words of wisdom, and it seems your Aunt Sunny is equally wise. It’s so true it’s about inclusion. 🙂

    • Thank you Zeenat. And it’s so true that as a society we need to embrace more empathy.

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