Although empathy is incredibly difficult, it is the core of the magic that makes us human. Through words, art, dance, song, taste and time, we are able to transport ourselves into other people's worlds. We can be born wherever we want. We can fail epicly. We can get up. We can gather nuggets from the wisdom, joy, fulfilment and experiences of others. Then we can move forward with the best bits.
One response I get when I say I am studying 'happiness and learning' is a questioning of the narcissistic generation. A view that youngsters are out looking to find themselves and focussing on their happiness. I would argue that a common thread from almost everyone who wanders down the rabbit hole of happiness is quite the opposite. Trying to find yourself is a distraction. We are far more interesting. Most of the time we spend worrying is somehow related to what we think others think of us, what is going to happen to us, or what has happened and we could have done differently.
I suspect breaking down our identities rather than building them up is the trick. It doesn't mean we can't enjoy roles. If identities are a story, I think stories rock. They add the flavour to life. But they don't define life.
Here are 12 awesome books on the subject of happiness. I don't think any of them are narcissistic.
[For those of you with ad-blocker - the books are: Authentic Happiness, Flow, The Happiness Hypothesis, Stumbling on Happiness, How Proust Can Change Your Life, How Pleasure Works, The Art of Possibility, Finding Your Element, Man's Search For Meaning, Tuesdays With Morrie, The Happiness Project, Emotional Intelligence]