When watching another person struggle with a task how often have you thought, ‘Why don’t they just ——-?’ The answer seems so simple to us from afar. Yet could it be that our idea of a solution is simply not possible for a number of reasons? Could it be that our lack of understanding of their condition renders us judgmental? Think about the person who forgets things and is then frustrated by their lack of instant recall. We may think to ourselves, ‘Well, why don’t they just write notes to help them remember!’ Oh, if it were only that simple. It’s hard for us to understand or develop empathetic regard for others unless we can get close enough to walk in their shoes.
There is a new author on the scene who allows us to do just that with her writing. It is a beautiful combination of insight and empathy. She will deepen your view on what is most important in life. Lisa Genova writes about little known medical conditions involving the brain. She combines the specifics of the condition with the heart as she explains the life long challenges some have with acceptance. Her insight is remarkable. She wrote “Still Alice” (a book that has been made into a movie) about a woman who has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although this form of dementia only constitutes approximately 5% of all dementia cases the lessons that can be learned from it are life changing. Genova allows us to be a fly on the wall as we watch this once brilliant professor who at age 50 begins to struggle with tasks that had been second nature to her in the past. You might wonder why you would want to read about this condition – wouldn’t it be a depressing read? Quite the contrary! What I found was a much deeper understanding and empathy for those with this condition or any memory challenge. Knowledge is a powerful thing. Ultimately, we see the family members paying more attention to the most important thing in life …love. A review by the Boston Globe said, “I couldn’t put it down….After I read ‘Still Alice,’ I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.”
Genova has written two other books entitled “Love Anthony” which is about an autistic boy and the challenges his family has in raising him. “Left Neglected” deals with a traumatic brain injury caused from an accident due to texting while driving. It is so riveting that your blood will run cold if you ever think about texting while driving again.
It has been said that Genova has created a new genre in literature. She causes us to feel more accountable to heighten our understanding of the human struggle. Ultimately you will feel your empathy button pressed into action as you begin to see others through a different, more evolved lens.
Research tells us that the happiest and most successful people in life have developed an empathetic regard for others. Often this takes decades on planet Earth and develops from day to day experiences of walking in another’s shoes. Genova allows us to fast track the deepening of our empathy while causing us to be smarter in the process. It is a powerful combination!
Empathy reduces judgment to its lowest common denominator. It causes us to be better, wiser human beings as we combine our heads and hearts in the pursuit of greater understanding and love.
Do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books. You’ll be glad you did!
Have a great few days!