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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Wang

Correlation between empathy and pessimism (about humanity and society)

In this past year, I have became both much more empathetic for people and much more pessimistic about society and humanity. My understanding of others’ cognitive and emotional experience has improved a lot, leading me to realize how limited many people’s executive functioning, energy, and will power actually are. I once believed people to be more capable, and that they are only limited by their lack of introspection and intentional decision making. However, it’s become clear to me that people can’t help themselves. Certain philosophical concepts and level of planning/organization required for a more fulfilled life and a less problematic society are beyond what their emotional and cognitive experience could grasp and implement. The ceiling for potential improvements in the development of skills, behaviours, and outlook appears to be quite a bit lower than I had once imagined. Seeing that my advices and lived experiences couldn’t actually effect positive change in people’s lifestyles and decision making processes, I understand the true challenges and difficulties of their day-to-day life much more. I gained a lot of empathy because I can no longer think that they could “just implement these simple changes to how they think about their situations and how they make decisions.” As a side effect, I have also become increasingly pessimistic about society and humanity.

People need to figure out who they are and what they want. They need to make intentional decisions based on their deepest values and desires, as opposed to acting out of biological impulses and social pressures.

People need to focus on maximizing their executive functioning, and actually get their everyday lifestyle in check. It shouldn’t be overwhelming for the average person to stay clean and organized, exercise regularly, have some hobbies, engage in at least a bit of social life, have proper meals without rushing, and carry out their work/school commitments.

People need to be much more capable and willing to experience pain and discomfort, as opposed to stooping down to hedonism and escapism.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are clear ways for people to make major improvements in these important areas.

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