Cognitive Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s situation and gaining a better understanding of their experience. In other words, it is being able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I am all for sticking to your beliefs, but we also need to understand what someone else is thinking or going through. Cognitive empathy allows us to gain perspective. We all have different perspectives, based on our experiences.
We may have a similar upbringing, same neighborhood, same school, same job, but your experience from each of these will vastly shape who you are today and your beliefs. Some of us had a difficult past, whereas others had an amazing past. No matter your past, you are here today with a set of beliefs because of your experiences and your perception of those experiences.
Perception plays a huge part in our experiences because the same event can have drastically different outcomes. For instance, I do not like roller coasters. Riding the worlds tallest and fastest roller coaster would be a nightmare for me, but for many of you this would be the highlight of your day.
This is where cognitive empathy comes in. The ability for us to understand another person’s viewpoint will help both parties improve their overall health and well-being. The prefrontal cortex in your brain allows for this empathy to strengthen. This area becomes weakened when challenged by stress, lack of sleep, lack of nature exposure, and inflammation
Improving the prefrontal cortex will allow you to make better decisions, see greater perspective, and handle more difficult situations. The good news is we are all able to improve this area of our brain easily.
How To Improve the Prefrontal Cortex and Make the World a Better Place
- Meditate. Meditation improves blood flow to the prefrontal cortex which will actually allow this area of the brain to grow and function better.
- Exercise. Exercise also improves blood flow to the brain as well as acts as a stress reliever.
- Vitamin D. Improve Vitamin D levels by getting proper sun exposure and/or via supplementation. Several health conditions have been linked to low levels of Vitamin D.
- Sleep. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Uninterrupted sleep is best, so eliminate blue lights in the room and shut down WiFi at night.
- Nature. Get outside and enjoy nature. Just being outside can improve endorphin levels and brain function.
- Cognitive Empathy. Listen to others. Try to understand their viewpoint. You don’t have to change your opinion, but at least be open-minded about where they are coming from.
I am hopeful that we can all improve our ability to understand one another and to make this world a better place. It should be a collective goal for society to make each day better than the day before.