Recommendations for increasing empathy?

post by HausdorffSpace · 2020-08-02T07:55:36.695Z · EA · GW · 2 comments

This is a question post.


    Mathieu Putz
    G Gordon Worley III

Hi, I'm new to the forum, although a long-time reader of EA ideas. I know this is an odd question, so I should provide some background. Lately, I've been really unmotivated to study anything about EA, or improving the world in general. After some reflection, I believe that my self-quarantine, along with strange state of the world this year, has dulled my empathy, so I find I can't invest emotionally on any altruism related question. So, I'm thinking, does anyone have an emotional resource, of any kind, for increasing empathic motivation for doing good things? Not focused on the rational "effective" part necessarily, just motivation increasing.

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: resources for being inspired about the future are also fine. Anything, really.


answer by EdoArad · 2020-08-02T08:16:21.588Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Welcome to the forum! This is a very important question, and one that I think many of us are struggling with or have been at some point. I really appreciate you taking action on this and asking about resources publicly. 

Probably my favorite write-ups on this topic is Replacing Guilt by Nate Soares. The first part addresses "listless-guilt" - that feeling that there is something that you should do but you don't know what and there is no specific motivation to guide you. 

Here [EA · GW] is a relevant question that has been asked on the forum previously, and may have further sources. 

I also want to remind you that it's perfectly okay not to feel motivated right now. This can come in waves, and you might just randomly come across something which would make you motivated again. It's tough to feel motivated without supporting community and structure (if that's the case you're in). You might also consider joining the EA Virtual Group [EA · GW], or volunteer for an ongoing EA project.

comment by MarisaJurczyk · 2020-08-02T11:03:42.260Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Came here to recommend Replacing Guilt as well! Was very impactful for me :)

And we'd love to have you at one of our EA Virtual Group meetups! You can join our new Slack workspace here

comment by HausdorffSpace · 2020-08-02T12:59:53.278Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I've starting to read the Replacing Guilt series, it really seems impactful. And aiming to join the virtual group soon!

Replies from: edoarad
comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2020-08-02T13:24:15.941Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Great! good luck!

answer by Misha_Yagudin · 2020-08-02T09:17:14.686Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

You might want to read some essays from Effective Altruism Handbook: Motivation Series [? · GW]. I especially like 500 Million, But Not A Single One More [? · GW], it is short and powerful.

comment by HausdorffSpace · 2020-08-02T12:56:14.181Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the recommendation, I didn't know there was a series devoted for that. I'll check it out.

answer by Mathieu Putz · 2020-08-02T22:00:24.377Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

One thing that probably helps me stay motivated is listening to the 80000 hours and the future of life podcasts. It's lower effort (for me) than e.g. reading essays and hence a good option for periods where I'm especially busy. I don't know how motivated I'd feel without them, but I suppose hearing from lots of people who try to improve the world can be uplifting and maybe even more personal than blogposts. This might not work if you're not a 'podcast person' though.

answer by G Gordon Worley III · 2020-08-02T22:03:27.352Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Enough meditation seems to pretty reliably increase empathy. My guess is there are studies purporting to show this, but I'm making this suggestion mostly based on personal observation. There's some risk of survivorship bias in this, though, so I don't know how repeatable this suggestion is for the average person.

comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2020-08-05T15:23:15.897Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Specifically 'Metta Meditation' is precisely targeted at increasing empathy


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comment by EdoArad (edoarad) · 2020-08-02T08:18:28.204Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

By the way, I saw that you didn't upvote your own post - that's understandable, but the norm is to just leave it as it is and upvote yourself :) 

Replies from: HausdorffSpace
comment by HausdorffSpace · 2020-08-02T12:54:31.264Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. I actually thought I had upvoted myself by mistake.