A Few Thoughts on Empathy and Wisdom


I had this thought the other week while watching Netflix's Squid Game (of all things). Without spoiling much of the show, you witness 400-some individuals in the ultimate battle for their lives. For whatever reason, my thought was that I could only imagine the bonds created by those who teamed up and endured the Games together.

All of the players do some stupid shit throughout the series, but I imagine every one of them could empathize with each other about their decisions and actions.

This got me thinking about all the stupid stuff I've done in my life.

A few of the highlights:

  • Quit my job at 26 with nothing lined up
  • Burned through more than $40,000 of my retirement savings, basically starting over from $0
  • Divorced after less than a year of marriage
  • Losing a few thousand dollars in GameStop

And those are just the big ones in the last few years.

Having done all of that, I view the actions of others much differently than I did when I was younger. I understand why some people make the choices they do. Does that mean they aren't stupid decisions? No, but I get it.

It's easy to go by the books when you're of sound mind and judgment. But what happens when you lose your job, your girl leaves you, and your grandma dies all in the same week?

You go a little nuts.

Your decision-making goes in the shitter.

Life is not always lived by the books. You can throw everything you learned out the window in one moment of weakness thanks to psychology and emotion. This tends to happen a lot with money, death, and love.

So yeah, having done quite a few stupid things in my life, I've learned to be more understanding of others' actions.

Which brings me back to my initial line of thinking --> empathy = wisdom.

It's not just old age that yields wisdom. It's all of life's struggles, all the highs and lows, that mold our thoughts and behaviors. The more we endure  —  the more we suffer  — the more we're able to relate and understand why others do what they do.

We empathize.

But if we've never walked a mile in someone else's shoes, it's almost like we have no idea. We might as well be infants. The more shoes we walk in, the more we struggle and the more we learn, and the more likely we are to understand other people's actions...even if we haven't yet made that same mistake.

Empathy = wisdom.