We don’t feel empathy the same way during a large, slow tragedy the way we feel it when something bad happens to a small group of people. We only have the capacity for so much grief before we shut down and accept our reality.
Many of the hardships that face humanity are long, slow hardships. We can’t quite grasp the enormity of the challenges facing our world because we can’t feel empathy for thousands the way we can feel empathy for our neighbor.
Challenge yourself to think about the unique experience everyone has on this planet. Try to imagine as many possible existences as you can, from the impoverished to the elite and everyone in the middle. The task is overwhelming, because you are experiencing empathy on a scale one person can’t handle.
Take a step back, and remember that every person is at the center of their own story, and it is just as meaningful as your own story. The lottery of human existence put you here, today, reading this. Are you more fortunate than some? Less fortunate than others? Comparison can be a pitfall, but perspective is enlightening.
Be grateful for today. Be nice to someone you don’t know.
Look up at the moon and remember another time you were still and appreciated the night sky. Call up a fond memory, and know that the sky was always above you, and the ground always below. And it always will be. Listen to a song from your youth and try to imagine telling yourself all the things you’re grateful for that haven’t even happened yet.