- Empathy: Empathy is a sense of feeling for others, and, in our case, animals. We all have empathy, but sometimes living off in "our own little worlds" for a long time can desensitize us. If your life is just go-go-go, you'll be so busy that everything else that matters in life will seem insignificant.
- How to culminate this skill: Read up on animal rights issues. Try to imagine what the animals are going through. I've found that simply starting to change my lifestyle to be more animal-friendly has helped a lot, too. It made me start to be more empathetic. Now, I can hardly believe that I used to eat animals, wear their wool, abandon socializing time with my animals for computer games, and pretty much live ignorantly of the world's problems and how I can help. Another strategy that I use when my empathy fades a little is to spend time outside, watching a squirrel high up in the trees. After watching that squirrel for a long time, it became more evident that he or she is not just a decoration or passerby. That squirrel has a life, for she has to find food and a warm place to sleep at night, as do we. She may have some squirrel children to feed and keep warm, as all mothers do. She wants to keep out of danger and find a mate, like most humans do. This strategy really gets you thinking. My last strategy would be to volunteer at a shelter or visit a farm to see the animals firsthand.
- How to cultivate this skill: Every time you see an animal who is kept for human use or amusement, find out his life story and ask yourself, "How would I feel if I was this animal?"
I am not saying that it is always wrong to keep pets, especially if they are your family. (Just adopt from a shelter!) But it is good to remember that they have feelings. In the past, humanity has enslaved those of its own kind, and they turned a blind eye to that, too. People who stood up against slavery had to imagine how gruelling the slaves' lives must have been. You can do this, too.
- Keep up your empathy, set goals, reward yourself for achievements, and try hard.