6 ways to cultivate more empathy in your life and in the world
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We live in a world that tempts us every day to be less empathetic. Whether it's the conflict-driven world of social media, the daily disasters we see on the news, or the victims of mental illness we see on the streets. Seeing and feeling others' pain can be overwhelming.

However, as humans we are hard-wired to be empathetic. We aren't just self-serving beings whose relationships are wholly transnational in nature. We have evolved to give without receiving, to feel for those we've never met, and to cooperate and provide mutual aid in our communities.


Roman Krznaric, Ph.D., a founding faculty member of The School of Life in London and empathy adviser to the United Nations, made a list of six ways that we can cultivate empathy to be better members of our community and planet.

Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers

Highly empathetic people are very interested in strangers. They will chat with the person behind them in line at the supermarket and crack a joke or two with the gas station teller.

But cultivating curiosity in others isn't just about small talk. Krznaric believes one of the best ways to cultivate this curiosity is to challenge yourself to have one conversation with a stranger a week. "All it requires is courage," he wrote.

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Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities

It's very easy to label other people based on their social identities, e.g. "soccer mom" or "hipster." These labels often prevent us from getting to really know them or explore our commonalities.

To cultivate an attitude of empathy, try to engage in label-free thinking, and focus on the things you share in common instead.

Habit 3: Try another person's life

Sometimes our lifestyles become so ingrained that that those who live differently than us become increasingly foreign. To break that cycle, why not try someone else's life on for a while?

"If you are religiously observant, try a 'God Swap,' attending the services of faiths different from your own, including a meeting of Humanists," Krznaric writes. "Or if you're an atheist, try attending different churches! Spend your next vacation living and volunteering in a village in a developing country."

Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up

Krznaric says there are two different traits required for being an empathetic conversationalist: radical listening and vulnerability.

"What is essential is our ability to be present to what's really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment," Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), said about radical listening.

Vulnerability involves "removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond," Krznaric writes. Whereas "empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences."

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Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change

One can increase their own empathetic abilities by supporting organizations that encourage its growth in the world. Krznaric recommends Canada's pioneering Roots of Empathy, a teaching program that has benefited over a million school kids.

We can also help sow the seeds of empathy by creating spaces in social media for it to flourish. Krznaric believes that social media can convince us to care deeply about the suffering of distant strangers.

Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

It's important to empathize with people who we perceive as "enemies." Understanding those with whom we disagree or are in engaged in conflict with, gives us a strategic ability to help change their course or come to a compromise.

This is known as "instrumental empathy" and it can go a long way.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.