Brene Brown, shame and vulnerability researcher, defines #empathy (our wellbeing theme at URSTRONG this month) as “feeling with people”. Within friendship, teaching children how to carefully consider another person’s feelings helps them strengthen their relationships and develop a deeper sense of self.
Empathy isn’t just useful (and important) when our friend is feeling negative emotions – like a Friendship Fire. It’s also useful (and important) when our friend is feeling positive emotions – like they got the top mark on the test, or they won the race, or they’re so excited about their new puppy. In our Friendship Journals, which mirror our Friendology curriculum, children do fun activities centred on MUDITA – the empathetic joy we feel when our friends feel joy!
Knowing that “comparison is the thief of joy”, this image helps kids see that a friend’s successes and strengths do NOT, in any way, undermine their own successes and strengths. We can all be awesome in our own ways! Feelings of jealousy and envy fade away when kids stop comparing themselves to their friends and, instead, focus on feeling happy for their friends.
Our URSTRONG Schools remind children that friends are on the same team! Green-Zone Friends cheer their friends on & feel that same kind of pride that parents feel about their children. This is what #mudita is all about!
Written by: Dana Kerford
Founder & Friendship Expert