TED Conversations

Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


This conversation is closed.

How can overly empathetic/sympathetic people compete in this world? Do they eventually end up jaded and bitter?

The saying goes "nice guys finish last". I interpret that "nice" means overly empathetic/sympathetic people who sacrifice themselves for others happiness. Kindness seems to be a sign of weakness in that saying, as though people prey on those kind-hearted people. If it were true, then how do kind people compete in this world? Is it some kind of evolutionary Yin and Yang, where a balance of certain personalities need to exist for progress to happen or do people have peaks and troughs of kindness in them?

Update: Thought I'd share a fascinating article found in the comments below:


It is about the differences between being nice and being kind.


Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

Thank you all for your well thought comments. I have learned a lot and I hope you've all taken some knowledge from this as well.

Be mindful of those around you and tread lightly on the paths made by your brothers and sisters of humankind.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 16 2013: Selfishness is like a jail; there is no life worth living without love. Those who are overly empathetic and sympathetic are the kind of a wise man, who loved to the extent of giving his life, and was raised up to life.

    Love is a way to life, and your sacrifice tells a lot about your love.
    • thumb
      Jan 17 2013: Feyisayo, I share with you one of my favorite passages: 1 Corinthians 13:11 thru 13:13.

      The answer is of course that we know and accept who we are. Only then can I be at peace within. It is not either easy or convient to practice our beliefs or to chose what we consider to be the right. Those who end up either jaded or bitter have lost the courage of their convictions.

      I wish you well. Bob.
      • W T 100+

        • +4
        Jan 17 2013: Bob, when one is young and sympathetic, it can be a struggle to practice ones convictions in the work place, and even in the family, when the others are constantly making an effort to demoralize us, and make us feel unworthy.

        At times, even individuals who are "supposedly" kind and sympathetic people want to be "MORE" kind and sympathetic than the rest and can end up competing with others in this regard.

        It takes time, and alot of discernment and observation of human nature, as well as meditating upon our own motivations for acting one way or another to come to a balance and not end up jaded or bitter.

        I really liked the statement you made that we have to know and accept who we are.

        The knowing who we are is one thing. The accepting takes a bit longer. I think perhaps that is where the question above comes from.....the struggle to once and for all accept that you are a sincere person and kind, and that you will have to be true to your convictions no matter what.

        Alot of us have had this struggle, and some of us continue to have it, sometimes on a daily basis.

        It's encouraging to talk to others who can empathize with this situation.

        • thumb
          Jan 18 2013: Mary, your comment is inspiring, I would dare to even say, inspiring to the masses. =)
        • thumb
          Jan 19 2013: Mary, For me this was made possable after I turned 70. I was a very competative person in the job force and in the sports area.

          The fire is not out .. but no longer roars ... it is steady and comforting.

          Thanks for your reply.

          I wish you well. Bob.
    • thumb
      Jan 18 2013: Feyisayo, does sacrifice mean for all or sacrifice only for the ones who a person deems as deserving of it?
      • thumb
        Jan 18 2013: Sacrifice for those who are loved would not be the same as those who one just considers deserving of help or not; there are different levels of sacrifice which becomes benefitial if one is guided by wisdom.
        Jesus died for humanity; no other sacrifice of this kind is needed for the forgiveness of sin.
      • W T 100+

        • +1
        Jan 18 2013: Derek, when it comes to sacrifice, empathy, and general giving, like Feyisayo said, wisdom is required to know when and where, and with whom to step in. And when you do step in and try to help, and things don't go as you expected, learn to forget and move on.

        I remember a while back having breakfast at a hotel while on vacation.

        I was observing a young lady making waffles using the machine that dispenses the waffle mix, you know, the kind where you then take the mix and pour it in a hot cast iron waffle maker with a self-timer.

        I was also observing an older woman with her grandkids looking at what the young lady was doing.

        When the young lady put her batter in the waffle maker, the older woman then begins to attempt to get her batter into a cup, but fails. So, the young lady instructs her on how to release the batter.

        The older woman, without looking up or thanking the young lady presses a lever, and batter starts to come out. HOWEVER, she did not keep her hand on the lever, and the batter was approaching the top of the cup and was going to spill.......so, the young lady says, "you need to lift up the lever, otherwise your cup will run over and batter will go everywhere".

        At that moment, the older woman decides to lift her head and actually look at the young lady for the first time, and out poured her words........rotten words, unappreciative words, words to stab at the heart..................she spits out, "If I make a mess then it's my problem!"

        At that moment I wanted to get up from my seat and tell that older woman a thing or two, but I just sat there observing, waiting to see what the young lady would do. And you know what the young lady did?

        She smiled and walked away Derek.

        She walked straight to my table and sat down.

        She then said, "Mom, I can't do anything about people like that. I did what I knew was the right thing to do, now it's over, and I have to move on and not think about it"

        There is a lesson in there somewhere. Can you find it?
        • thumb
          Jan 19 2013: I've got it Mary! The batter is more useful inside the waffle cooker. Ha, the true lesson is that it is better to remove yourself from pointless confrontations or at least retreat for now to find a more just battle. =)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.