Whether you’re traveling or staying at home, there are steps each of us take to strengthen our humanity.

Photo: alicepopkorn

Cultivating empathy might just be one of the coolest by-products of travel.

It’s hard not to feel someone else’s pain when they lose a loved one, or don’t have enough money to buy food, or watch their heart being broken, even when your beliefs and worldview are completely opposite.

Traveling gives us a chance to get up close with people so different from ourselves, just to show us that basically, we are dealing with the same life issues underneath it all.

I just came across this post written for the turn of the new year 2010 (such a quaint notion already, isn’t it?). It’s called Five Ways to Expand Your Empathy, and here is author Roman Krznaric’s list:

  • Cultivate curiosity about strangers
  • Learn from your experiences
  • Tackle your family empathy deficit
  • Take an imaginative journey
  • Challenge your prejudices

His list and descriptions went beyond what it takes to cultivate empathy – this might just be the training manual for how to be a good human. And while visiting a foreign place may make these bullet points rise to the surface, it’s really something that is worth taking into consideration every single day.

Are you aware of your own prejudices and what do you do to counteract them?

I’m curious how these “rules” play out for you BNT readers in both your travels and your daily life. What do you do to connect with strangers? How do you apply what you’ve learned from your experiences? Are you aware of your own prejudices, and what do you do to counteract them?

Maybe you simply have a mantra that you step out into the world with; maybe you’ve had to step back and reevaluate how you move through life, and therefore have a defined way of accomplishing your “good humanness”. Either way, we can always learn from each other’s experiences as much as our own.

Share your ways of cultivating humanness on and off the road in the comments below.