I’m not the world’s most successful person by any means, but in my short lifespan, I have decided that there are two main skills to thrive. These skills are learned and not necessarily taught, and they require people to challenge themselves personally. They’re not easy skills, but they will help you be happy and successful. Or so I think.
Empathy and Critical Thinking
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another
Critical thinking: The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment
Empathy, not to be confused with sympathy, is being able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine what they are going through. Empathy challenges you to understand someone deeper than surface level. It helps you be open-minded and explore other perspectives.
Critical thinking empowers you to act on your own, making decisions for yourself upon challenging norms. Critical thinking encourages you to not accept the world at face value and enables you to be self-sufficient.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. Some consider the combination of these two skills to be “compassionate action.” Some argue these skills are best taught through dialogue. Others proclaim that young people need empathy, critical thinking, as well as flexibility to be global leaders.
While I encourage critical thinking of my statement, it’s nothing new and it makes sense. No matter what career path you pursue and no matter what you do in life, if you are able to relate to others while thinking for yourself, you are bound to be successful. By challenging everything around you and always looking for new ways to learn, you will be able to expand your mind beyond restrained social constructs. You’ll be able to consider other people’s circumstances around the world with an open heart. You won’t expect to be spoon-fed anything, so you’ll be a lifelong learner. You’ll be a leader, and you’ll be a lover.
Don’t let the world harden your heart and mind. There is always room for growth — empathy and critical thinking can help you continue to become your best self.
++ Mary K