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Welcome to the Age of Adventurous Empathy

Jonny Miller

Adventurous empathy, or experiential 'outrospection’, requires that we ditch ‘self-help’ guides and manuals on how to become rich and successful and that instead we seek to understand life through the eyes of others, fostering an adventurous curiosity for other lives and places beyond our own experience.

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  • Hannah Johnson

    What a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing! I absolutely love the concept of an empathy museum. To create a physical museum would take some time and investment but I wonder if there's a way to transfer the imagined experience into the real world. For example, what if Maptia, GOOD, and a coalition of others could create an Empathy Adventures Day. A play book or field guide could be designed for individuals/groups to create an empathy museum experience at their work, community center, school, neighborhood, etc. The field guide could include instructions, best practices, and hot tips for facilitating meaningful empathy adventures in varying environments. As was mentioned in the article, each individual is unique and has inspiring insights, experiences and world views. How might an Empathy Adventues Day unlock these stories and further the adoption of this approach to life?

    • Jonny Miller

      Hi Hannah—I love the idea of holding an adventurous empathy day. I could imagine the illustrated field guide to adventurous empathy... we'll definitely have a think about what this might look like in practise! In the meantime here's a link to some more of Roman's wonderful empathy museum ideas: http://www.romankrznaric.com/outrospection/2010/11/28/696

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Love it. Thanks for sharing. Did you draw that, Jonny? Would love to see more visual examples of your writing!

    • Jonny Miller

      Thanks Alessandra - no actually all of our illustrations and quotes are drawn by Ella Sanders (http://blog.maptia.com/posts/an-unconventional-intern) who is interning with us here at Maptia over summer before starting university to study English in September. She's pretty talented and we'll be sorry to see her leave!

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        She's amazing! Please tell her to contact me! I'd love to see her on the site or possibly having her do infographics!

  • Liz Collins

    Have you thought about somehow using MBTI testing to further your discussion on outrospection? It would be interesting to see if an individual's results would change after spending an extended amount of time reading, listening to , or watching certain stories.

    • Jonny Miller

      That's a very interesting suggestion - I'll mention it to Roman Krznaric (who is currently writing a book on storytelling and empathy) in case he is interested.

  • Raiven Greenberg

    Very interesting read! Delving into a complex issue, but making it so readable, enjoyable, and easily understandable is no easy task, but I'd say you did just that. Very nice article and accompanying videos! I hope to look into this topic more during my psychology studies in college.

    • Jonny Miller

      Thanks for the kind words Raiven! The RSA animated lectures did most of the work visualising the complex ideas ;) It seems like there are a lot of exciting and fresh areas of research emerging in the subject of empathy (both in psychology and neuroscience)! Enjoy your studies and do let me know if/when you discover something interesting!

    • Jonny Miller

      Thanks Kris - it's an idea we feel really strongly about. Any ideas or food for thought you have would be much appreciated ;)

      • Kris Giere

        I particularly like the connection that you all make between curiosity and empathy. Curiosity and empathy are both valuable elements of good education. Additionally, they are both difficult to measure (read as test via a standardized tests), and because of that, are typically relegated to a lower tier of importance by society.

        What many people do not realize is that curiosity when actively used on a consistent basis can increase one's emotional resilience, overall well-being, and happiness. Happier people tend to express empathy more consistently.

        I also love the connection to storytelling, but that is due to my bias. I come from a long line of storytellers. I grew up in a setting where social events often included time to sit around and listen to the older generations tell stories. Because of the nature of storytelling, this practice helped me develop the ability to sift through language to find intent, purpose, and meaning when communicating with others. It is a valuable skill that I have been able to use over the years, it's potency is directly tied to "walking in someone else's shoes" (a.k.a. empathy)/

        • Jonny Miller

          It is an interesting point that you raise about not being able to measure empathy - seems to be a common thread in the world that anything which can't be quantified (eg. value of the rainforests) becomes completely undervalued. I totally agree with what you said - I might add also that they seem to fuel each other: curiousity --> empathy --> storytelling and the cycle repeats itself.

          I believe that online resources eg. TED, DO Lectures, GOOD.is stories really do fuel this cycle in a way that cannot be measured (or underestimated).

          • Kris Giere

            You are right. It is a cycle that can fuel itself.

            Also I often use GOOD.is articles and TED videos in my classroom to engage students in critical conversations. It usually leads to all things unmeasured that I have to find a way to wrap up in a neat and tidy point-based, graded bow.

            Most importantly, underestimating that which cannot be measured is a mistake that we must find a way to correct. I hope that forums like GOOD.is can help in that regard.

            • Jonny Miller

              That's fantastic to hear - I always felt that my real university education came from watching TED and following my curiousity on the internet, textbooks were rarely as engaging... your students are lucky!

              • Kris Giere

                I try to get my students to follow their curiosity. Many of them have been conditioned by the time I get them to ask me for the answer rather than seek it out. The transition back to curiosity can be a long road but totally worth it.

                • Jonny Miller

                  I can imagine - the only things that I can still remember from my school and university lessons were those which I discovered for myself ;)

                  • Kris Giere

                    That is the truth. Isn't it? If we learn for someone else or something else (the test), we remember it temporarily. If we learn for ourselves, that knowledge can become part of who we are.