Empathy : the ability to understand other people’s feelings and problems.

Underlying any involvement in community service is a feeling of empathy – a sense of the feelings of others rather than your own. Empathy can be the trigger that stirs us to act in service or it might also be the result of our work – a heightened awareness of the needs of others.

Where does this sense of others come from?

Is empathy a naturally occurring phenomenon?

Is it a personality trait?

Can it be taught or trained?

A recent TIME  report Bunnies, Stinkbugs and Maggots: The Secrets of Empathy provides fascinating reading for CAS Coordinators.

The report highlights a recently released study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, where investigators have been able to not only locate the precise spot in the brain that helps us overcome our EEB, but also indicate a way to stimulate that same spot artificially, and then ‘dial’ empathy up or down.

Shades of Spinal Tap – ” Turn me up to an 11….” ?

And the good news?

The international team of scientists who conducted this research concluded that the more time and attention we can devote to thinking and acting empathically, the more sensitive we become.

How do we create the opportunities for spending more time focused on others?

What flicks on our empathy switch?

And what factors raise our empathy dial to eleven?