This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anoop Abraham. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Golden Rule To Making The World A Better Place

In recent years, there has been a rise in religious, political and racial intolerance across the globe. However, despite all of these differences, there is one point on which almost all world religions unanimously agree, and that is following the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule appears prominently in the teachings of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Sikhism. The rule has been expressed in various ways by different religions, but at its core involves being empathetic to our fellow beings. Given below are a few examples.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”The Bible (Christianity)

“This is the sum of duty: Do nothing to others that, if done to you, could cause you pain.”The Mahabharata (Hinduism)

“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith (Islam)

“I will act towards others exactly as I would act towards myself.”The Siglo-Vada Sutta (Buddhism)

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation….”The Babylonian Talmud (Judaism)

Now, while the Golden Rule may sound pretty easy and self-explanatory, taking the effort to apply this advice in our lives is anything but easy. For example, I’m sure everyone will agree that they don’t like being judged by others and find it hurtful. But most of us never think twice before passing judgement on others.

While the Golden Rule is something many of us may have already heard growing up, most of us are have never been taught how to apply this in our own lives. Therefore, this rule gets reduced to clichéd advice that everybody knows about, but almost nobody lives by. So in this post, I’d like to go deeper and explain how we can practice being empathetic in our lives, especially when it is challenging.

Seek To Understand Others

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” – Carl Jung

Our minds may not always be able to conceive what prompts people to do certain things. However, we may never reach a place of understanding if we are adamant about viewing people’s actions solely from our point of view — which is our usual tendency. Empathy begins with seeing things from others’ points of view. This is summed up beautifully by Atticus Finch in his 1960 book To Kill A Mockingbird when he explains to his daughter,

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Putting yourself in another person’s shoes requires patience and thoughtfulness. However, our default human tendency is to judge others. But as author Richard Carlson rightly says, “When we judge or criticise another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.”

When I look back at my own life, I have never gained anything from judging anyone. On the contrary, it has only had a negative impact on my relationship with others. To make space for empathy in our lives, we must be willing to let go of our judgements towards others since it can be difficult for both to coexist at the same time.

Take A Deep Breath

Showing empathy and understanding towards another may be the last thing on our minds in the middle of a heated exchange or an argument with someone. The same can be said when we encounter people who push our buttons or even when someone cuts across us in traffic.

In such situations, it’s easier to react and get carried away by the force of our emotions like anger or frustration. Instead, pause and take a few deep breaths so that you become present and don’t automatically get carried away to react or lash out. Or as Thomas Jefferson suggested:

“When angry, count to ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred [before responding].”

Just like how you cannot trust your mental faculties when you are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, you can’t expect to think clearly, much less with empathy, when you feel triggered or you are in a highly emotional state. Once your mind is more relaxed, you can respond with a better understanding of where they are coming from (deep breathing activates the relaxation response in your body).

Set An Intention

For most of us, how we behave towards others is often determined by how they treat us. In our interactions with people, we operate with the underlying and unconscious belief that if you treat me well, I will treat you well. If you treat me bad, don’t expect me to treat you any better.

One of the keys to being empathetic towards others lies in realising that being loving and kind to others is a decision that we can make and it need not be dependent on what other people say or do. To practically apply this into your life, take 3-5 people in your life who push your buttons and decide ahead of time how you will respond to them the next time you feel triggered.

Ultimately, being empathetic is not merely a reaction but something that we can choose under any circumstance.

Final Thoughts

Our minds are wired to care more for our own thoughts, feelings and desires ahead of others. Being empathetic is about training yourself to be considerate about other people’s thoughts, feelings and desires. I believe that in its highest form, empathy does not merely stop at understanding the thoughts and feelings of another, but involves seeing ourselves in everyone and guiding our actions accordingly.

Doing this will not be easy and require conscious effort, but it is by no means beyond human capacity. When we let ourselves become guided by empathy, our lives are guaranteed to be more fulfilling and the world will be a better place because of it.

Note: A common criticism of the Golden Rule is that it assumes that other people would like to be treated exactly the way that you would like to be treated. Therefore, in some instances, applying the Platinum Rule that states “Treat others the way they would like to be treated” may perhaps be more suitable and the more empathetic course of action.

Note: This post was originally published here

You must be to comment.

More from Anoop Abraham

Similar Posts

By Bengali Love Cafe By Ms Sakshi Guha

By Sambhab Mishra

By Saraf Ali

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below