I was born close to the sea in Den Helder. In Den Helder there is a lighthouse, the “Lange Jaap”. When I lay in my bed at night, I saw the beams of light from the lighthouse pass through the curtains of my room. That somehow gave me a safe and reassuring feeling.

Lighthouses existed well before our era but were introduced to the coasts of Northern Europe by the Romans. At first, they were open fires, later they became oil lamps up to electric light this time. Each lighthouse has its own characteristics, for example, shape, height, and light beam frequency. Even today, despite modern navigation equipment, they still have their function for shipping as a means of control on the navigation systems and as a radar beacon.

Some time ago I suddenly had to think of the Lang Jaap again when I received an explanation about the difference between acting empathically and sympathetically. First of all, it turned out that I confused the meaning of both terms. Empathy is the ability to take the perspective of the other without judgment, recognize emotion, and empathize. Sympathetic means that you identify with the other person, perhaps even under the guise of “a sorrow shared is a sorrow half”. That seems like a nice thing, but that’s the question. As far as I’m concerned, it’s more like “getting into the boat with the other person”. Does the other benefit from that?

When I think of empathy, I think of the lighthouse. By being understanding, patient, and loving you can become a beacon for someone else, a bright spot in a dark or difficult period, for example. Sometimes consciously, but perhaps also very often unconsciously. That requires a certain attitude from me. Judgment at first sight or perhaps even condemnation is more obvious than understanding and patience. But honestly applied, there is also a win-win in this.

As far as I am concerned, this is evident from a well-known English saying: “What goes around, comes around” or the Dutch version “Whoever bounces the ball can expect it back”. These statements are often used to negative behavior but are, of course, just as true with positive thoughts and behavior. So if I am understanding and patient, I will be treated that way. Apart from the fact that I don’t get out of irritation or anger. Emotions that never make me happy, but rather cause stress and sometimes even physical complaints.

This is a great example of being the creator of my life. I determine how I experience life. Happiness starts with patience, understanding, and loving thinking. That asks me to be very aware of the thoughts I (just like that) have. I’ve long had the conviction that my thoughts, unspoken, don’t matter. So that is by no means the case. Thoughts, especially when they are connected to emotion, can only result in a manifestation, because they ultimately result in doing and/or experiencing, by myself or by someone else.

Choosing the light requires an active attitude from me with every choice. I am convinced that if that light rises above the bushel, it can motivate others to do the same. Then ‘create – connect – care’ really becomes reality and it is inevitable that the world will become a little more beautiful. Are you in?