Why Should You Try It: One of the greatest barriers to altruism is that of group difference: We feel much less motivated to help someone if they don’t seem to belong to our group or tribe—that is, if they’re not a member of our “in-group”—and we may even feel hostile toward members of an “out-group.” This exercise is designed to help expand one’s sense of shared identity with others.
Time Required: Take 15 minutes to go through the steps below. Try to repeat these steps with a different person at least once per week.
How to Do It:
- 1. Think of a person in your life who seems to be very different from you in every way that you can imagine. They might have different interests, different religious or political beliefs, or different life experiences. They may even be someone with whom you have had a personal conflict, or who belongs to a group that has been in conflict with a group to which you belong.
- Next, make a list of all of the things that you most likely share in common with this person. Perhaps you both work for the same company or go to the same school. Maybe you both have children, or a significant other. Probably you have both had your heart broken at one point or another, or have lost a loved one. At the broadest level, you both belong to the human species, which means that you share 99.9% of your DNA.
- Review this list of commonalities. How do they make you see this person in a new light? Instead of simply seeing this person as someone unfamiliar to you, or as a member of an out-group, now try to see this person as an individual, one whose tastes and experiences might overlap with yours in certain ways.
- Repeat this exercise whenever you meet someone who initially seems different from you, with whom you have a conflict, or who makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Watch the following video to understand how connection stimulates interaction between the mind and brain, leading to personal, social and global coherence: https://www.heartmath.org/about-us/videos/the-hearts-intuitive-intelligence/
Related Videos: Courage, Generosity and Connection
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