Don’t Think, Feel #1

It’s been a year in a half since Covid-19 transformed our regular lives irrevocably. In a sense, this unseen enemy has acted as a wake-up call for humanity. We can’t see our adversary, but we have grown more and more tired of fighting it, and what we have seen has damaged us. However, our enemy is not this invisible virus but the fear in people’s hearts.

For nearly 20 years, I have been studying people’s minds and hearts, and I think I have slowly come to understand at least a few things. I’ve found that only humans feel sympathy and empathy so intensely that they break under the strain.

Because humans are social creatures that have survived by belonging to a group, we developed the ability to understand the feelings of others. Sympathy is the display of that understanding, while empathy is the ability to understand people with different ways of thinking and values. Sympathy is an emotional response, while empathy is an intellectual process. Empathy is the ability to understand what others are feeling. We can understand others even to the point that we feel what they are feeling. Moving away from empathy being a conscious process, we can begin to feel empathy even at an unconscious level. It’s said that only 1 in 5 people in Japan are predisposed to be empathetic.

In my case, I have a hypothesis that for those raised in Japan, being out of sync with society is related to a person’s level of empathy. We are working to establish a way of supporting people who are suffering due to mental upset or difficulties with socialization, focusing on ways to address their specific problems.

A healthy mind comes from a healthy body.

When students first join our program, I work hard to first establish a trust relationship with the student while ensuring they feel safe and secure. I try to establish a good routine with them while also letting them experience various aspects of the program. It’s important not to overwhelm them while also supporting them to get quickly into healthier habits. In doing so, their mental state also improves.

The program is very simple, but it takes advantage of the way Japanese people tend to put little thought into their regular routine. When they begin to experience the health benefits of a new routine, they become more self-aware of how their routine affects them.

This is not “thinking” but “feeling”. When the feeling becomes routine, people are able to think properly for the first time.

-Hidetaka Nagaoka