1. Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.
2. The attribution of one's own feelings to an object.
"Wise sayings often fall on barren ground; but a kind word is never thrown away." - Sir Arthur Helps
Empathy and compassion are siblings. Without one the other does not exist. Yin and Yang are kinda the same way, always hanging about each other, but Yin and Yang define each other, polar opposites. Empathy and compassion are like two lovers always enriching each other.
Actually, empathy has a lot of friends.
Developing empathy is a skill that goes to the deepest levels in our hearts. It's an internal thing that, once we have and understand, can be externalized for the betterment of ourselves and others. Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "Only your compassion and your loving kindness are invincible, and without limit."
Think about that one for awhile.
Empathy is more than saying, "I know how you feel," it's reacting to how others feel in a proactive way. No, we can't always make people feel good--and frankly some people go out of their way to feel bad, angry, guilty, stressed, anxious, and there's nothing you can do about it--but empathy gives us an excellent tool to reach into other people's hearts and go back into our own and build compassion, understanding, kindness, and responsibility.
Empathy teaches us to live in the present and react in loving ways as we grow as psychological and spiritual beings.
"Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other - it doesn't matter who it is - and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other." - Mother Theresa