I want you to count how many times you yawn before you get to the end of this post.
Weird, isn’t it. That you can start to yawn just at the mention of it, or the thought of it, or the sound of it or an image of someone or something else yawning.
It’s the why of it that fascinates me.
I yawned six times just finding the picture for this post. And it’s not that it bored me. Far from it. I love this stuff. The inner workings of the human psyche.
Fact is it seems I yawned because I have developed my ability to have empathy for other beings.
In another stellar bit of research they took a bunch of psychologists and a bunch of engineers. Then they had a person yawn 10 times in front of both groups. Then they recorded how many times each group yawned in response. Needless to say the psychologists won hands down… reason being, it seems they have a greater sense of empathy. Given their choice of profession that’s no surprise.
But why is this important for us?
Because empathy, that closeness to others, is so fundamental to the development of compassion. And compassion is love made visible. It’s about moving out of judgement and walking a mile in another’s shoes. Understanding that they might be struggling in ways we can’t even imagine. And when we are compassionate toward others, regardless of whether or not they are in pain, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience things we would otherwise have not had the chance to. Being compassionate, enriches not only the lives of others, but our lives too.
As the Dalai Lama says:
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
How many times have you yawned?