Community & Government, Wellness

Changing Your Vantage Point

Pharrell Williams talks about putting yourself in others’ shoes to see the bigger picture of how their lives and perspectives differ from your own. He also walks you through an exercise to help you open up to others’ feelings and experiences.

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Topics include: Finding Truth on the Other Side · Assignment: Go Back to the Past · Practice Forgiveness


[MUSIC PLAYING] - We always talk about love and how important love is, you know, to society and to the world overall. But you can't love someone or something without, you know, relating to its existence. You know, people often say, like, you don't know what it's like to be in my shoes. Well, that's the point is for us to think about what it's like to be in someone else's shoes, what their experiences are. And in order to relate, you have to empathize. You have to put yourself in that place. And then we can better, like, assess what we can do to help them or, you know, advice, or just be helpful across the board. Like, you can't do that if you really don't understand the-- the experience of someone else or something else. There's always a vantage point for me. It always comes down to a vantage point. When I'm like, talking to my children or I'm talking to a complete stranger, it's all about, like, showing different points of view. There's many different POVs for an experience. And yeah, if you're looking at it one way only from your point of view, the lack of POV leads to a lack of context. And when there's a lack of context, sometimes people don't really understand the greater picture. You need to remain porous and be open that there could be more to a situation, there could be more to a greater, grander picture than just your simple vantage point. Like, you say, OK. I'm in this valley right now. And I see this mountain before me. This is my truth. You know, sometimes people assume there's nothing on the other side. When you open your mind's eye, you get a bigger view, and you realize that there's more to just that one side of the mountain where you are in the valley. There's a top, and there's a whole other side that you know nothing about. Just like there's a bigger picture of what's on the other side of that mountain, there's also a bigger picture of what other people experience and how their lives and perspectives are different than yours. So you've got to be open. And I think a really good exercise is just thinking about a demographic that you care the least about and just take yourself through like, a daily experience-- not even a daily experience, how about an hourly experience of what that person might be going through. Imagine being someone of Native American descent. These people came over here and found your land, renamed it, kicked you off of most of your property, took most of your property. And then they make all these movies, all this propaganda, about you called Westerns where you're always the bad guy. Close your eyes and just think about it. How must that feel? That's an exercise in empathy. When we're selfish, you know, we tell people, well, just get over it. Let it go. That's what African-Americans go through all the time when you think about the birth of this nation. We're always told, you know, get over it. That was then. But close your eyes and try to imagine the experience o...

About the Instructor

For the first time ever on MasterClass, a diverse range of our instructors come together to talk about the power of empathy and how it can transform the way you view the world. Join Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West as they share their experiences with empathy and its importance in their lives and careers. Learn how to exercise, cultivate, and promote empathy to connect with others on a deeper, more human level.

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Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West

Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West teach about leading life with empathy.

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