Empathy’s Role in Survival of the Fittest

In the past two decades, research has been suggesting people are more soft-wired for sociability, companionship, and relationships than for narcissism, aggression and selfishness. As it turns out, the basic human drive to belong is heavily based upon empathy. When the great tsunami struck Southeast Asia and another struck Japan, the rest of the world did not exploit the victims. Instead, they empathized and gave support. When your child is having a wonderful experience, do you feel joy with your child or do you feel miserable?

Jeremy Rifkin, bestselling author of The Empathic Civilization connects the evolution of mankind to empathy. Survival of the fittest means much more than who is the strongest or smartest intellectually. Since we are all social beings who depend upon each other for survival, our ability to empathize and get along with each other plays a major role in relationship, career, and life success.

Dr. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, makes the point that how much a person succeeds in his or her career depends more on emotional intelligence than IQ. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and regulate your own feelings and the feelings of others so we can solve problems and function more effectively. The hallmarks of emotional intelligence are empathy and self-awareness. If you want to increase your empathy in just one-day, consider taking the workshop at UCLA Extension, Empathy Training.