Alex Katz, Three Figures On a Subway, 1948, Oil on masonite, 13 1/2 x 29 inches, Alex Katz Collection, Colby College, Maine. © Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, Courtesy Colby College Museum of Art, Gift of the artist – see http://www.timothytaylor.com

“A great relationship is about two things. First, appreciating the similarities, and second, respecting the differences.”

~ Unknown

I am not usually in the business of promoting adverts for beer, but I feel compelled to make an exception in the case of the latest offering from Heineken.  Check out this short film which demonstrates starkly and powerfully how well we can get along with other people who hold views different from our own, if we just make a tiny effort to spend some time with them.

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: what fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticise?”

~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

As the video highlights, it can often seem as if we are worlds apart from someone else.  This is because we see life only from our own perspective.  We can only be ourselves.  If we stop to think about it, we know that other people have different perspectives from our own, but how often do we actually do this?  More likely, we forget and bowl along through life as if our own views are the only ones in town.

This can lead to stress, anger and resentment on both sides if we come up against people who express life in a manner that is counter to our own.

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.  No event is intrinsically good or bad; it is the eyes through which we see that make it one or another.”

~ Alan Cohen, A Deep Breath of Life

 

So how can we operate differently?  How can we go against what seems to be our inherent nature?  We can practice empathy.

“Empathy is feeling with people……What makes something better is connection.”

~ Brené Brown

This short film, which animates the words of Brené Brown, explains clearly the difference between empathy and sympathy and, in particular, how empathy can help build connection and understanding.

 

It does not matter if we have not had the same experiences as the person we are talking to.  It also does not matter whether the other person is sharing a dramatic and traumatic event, or simply talking about life from their own point of view.  It is enough to ask ourselves ‘how would I feel’ and operate from that place of imagination.

In this way, we can build bridges with others from a basis that we might never otherwise have thought possible.  That’s definitely worth raising a glass – be it beer, water or any other drink of your choice. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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