As the Archbishop has said, “We are all cousins, really, perhaps just a few thousand times removed.” Think of someone you love—a child, parent, close friend, or even a cherished pet. Bring their image into your mind and allow yourself to feel the love that you have for them. Notice the sense of warmth and openheartedness that comes from feeling your love for them. Imagine their desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. Reflect on how they live their life to achieve these aspirations.
Think of someone you know but do not know well. You could think of a colleague at your job, someone in your class at school, or someone who works at one of the stores where you shop. Allow yourself to recognize how your feelings for this person are different from the feelings you have for the person you just had in mind. We often do not feel empathy or connection for those who we consider strangers. Perhaps you feel indifference, perhaps a sense of separation, or perhaps even judgment. Now try to imagine being this person. Imagine their life, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their disappointments, and their suffering. Recognize that, just like you, they wish to achieve happiness and to avoid even the slightest suffering. Let your mind dwell in this realization and understand that you do not need an introduction because you already share the greatest bond—your humanity. They may be just as lonely as you, and your reaching out to them might be a gift to them. Take this awareness into the world. Start living from this newfound connection by opening your heart to those around you. You can start by smiling or acknowledging the other person by looking at them warmly and nodding your head. Different cultures have different ways of acknowledging others, but find what is appropriate in your situation and begin greeting your human family. Do not get discouraged if some are suffering from their own loneliness and isolation and do not acknowledge you. You can have empathy from your own feelings of loneliness. Greet the world with greater trust, kindness, and compassion, and the world will greet you with greater trust, kindness, and compassion. When you smile at the world, the world does tend to smile back.