We become less empathetic with age and more compassionate

Simon Sinek - Leadership through Inspiration

I really enjoy listening to Simon Sinek and the way he conveys a narrative. This interview was conducted at the Aspen Ideas Festival 2017. If you have watched a lot of Sinek’s talks there are stories that you’ll identify quickly, yet I don’t mind hearing him tell them again.

What came up during the interview as a paper mentioned by Arthur Brooks which states that according to research, as we age we become less empathetic. This was very surprising to me since older people always make for the best people to get direction and advice from. Arthur then shares the final part of the study that states that although we become less empathetic, we also become more compassionate.

This did surprise me. My understanding of compassion was that it was a precursor to empathy, turns out it is the other way around. I found this description really useful -> Psychology Today - Empathy vs Sympathy

“Compassion (‘suffering with’) is more engaged than simple empathy and is associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object. With empathy, I share your emotions; with compassion, I not only share your emotions but also elevate them into a universal and transcending experience. Compassion, which builds upon empathy, is one of the main motivators of altruism”