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When I googled the word "sympathy", this is what came from the Oxford Dictionary: “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.” Another google search revealed that “empathy” is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
This made me wonder. What is the relationship between joy on the one hand and sympathy and empathy on the other?
When we express our feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, we may feel better in the moment. We may feel let off the hook; that we’ve done our duty. It’s all about ourselves. We are not really connecting when we sympathise. It’s all really about me more than the other.
When we are able to understand the feelings of the other, and we share them, we are connecting at a deeper level. We are building our relationship. By simply being there for the person, to be a resource for them when they are ready to recover, our empathy leads us to the path of real joy. What greater joy can there be than to see the recovery?
The path of joy is therefore clear. Empathy leads us there.