It is also a matter of understanding through bodily imitation. Children learn to speak, and nearly everything else, by imitation. Babies will imitate the facial expressions of adults within the first hour of birth. Later they learnt to distinguish difference between a genuine smile, or a cover up smile or a smirk. Some children seem to have great difficulty in understanding others, but all children can learn to understand others to some extent.
It is also a matter of understanding what is going on in another person's mind. If we don't know what is happening in our own mind, if we don't know ourselves, how can we possibly understand and empathise with others. Some children seem to have great difficulty in feeling, describing and recognizing their own emotions. They have to learn to love and understand themselves first.
Children have difficulty understanding the more complex emotions of adults. They need time to develop them through age and experience, but we have to teach them to be happy within themselves and teach them to be affected by the emotions of others.
Look around how many chronically depressed and lonely people you meet everyday. Some people do not even look around any more. They believe it is more convenient to ignore the feelings of others. Look around how many separated, cheated on and heartbroken people you meet every day. We often love someone because of the effect they produce in us - not because we understand, or are even interested in, how they feel.
Look around how many violent, depressed and self harming children you meet everyday. Many children feel confused and abandoned because they often are loved only when they fit in with their parent's image of who they should be and not who they actually are.
Look around how many narcissistic and self obsessed children you meet everyday. Many parents believe they need to protect their children against hunger, discomfort, hardship, sadness, frustration...
How can you empathise with someone's longing and desires if all your needs and wants have been always met without any personal effort? How can you resonate with the suffering of the hungry people of Africa or with the sadness of vanishing species and the emptiness of destroyed environment if you never felt that kind of emotions.
Empathy has its price, the sadness, suffering, hardship, longing, frustration and desires of others resonate deeply within you however only a close, empathic connection with another person makes you fully human.
HAPPY AND SAD, FULL OF FRUSTRATION AND FULL OF DESIRES, FULL OF SUFFERING AND FULL OF PLEASURES, BITTER AND SWEET, THAT'S HOW MY LIFE IS AND I WOULD NOT HAVE IT OTHERWISE.