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If you could stand in someone else's shoes... Hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

These words end this incredibly beautiful video produced by the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. We spend quite a bit of effort here at On Being focusing on the sound of the human voice and how each guest adds to our collective discussion. We attempt to draw out the best of their stories and experiences in all its messiness and glory. This video speaks to each person's complexity, the stories that go unsaid but float just beneath the surface.

Titled "Empathy," this video was presented by the health care organization's CEO Toby Cosgrove at his annual State of the Clinic address on February 27, 2013. And it gets at a point that immunologist Esther Sternberg explores in her work and personal life: how new knowledge about the physical spaces of our lives can stress us, make us sick, or help us be well and connect with others.

For so many years, our hospitals and clinics were sterile, perfunctory structures that ignored the humanity of its patients and focused on the programmatic structure of its spaces. Ms. Sternberg explains:

"Hospitals are built like mazes because typically you have the old original small hospital building and then they keep adding wings to it, which hospitals until recently were designed really to optimize the diagnostic tools, you know, the X-ray equipment and the blood-drawing and so on rather than the human being that's going to be in that building. Airports too. Just think about an airport."

Folks like John Cary of Public Interest Design and others are at the forefront of a burgeoning field focusing on human-centered design. And, the nonprofit organization The Center for Health Design launched an initiative in 2000 called the Pebble Project, which uses an evidence-based design approach to "better understand the implications of the built environment on healthcare outcomes." They're learning how the built environment can affect everything from medication errors at cancer institutes to the efficacy rates of recovery with acuity-adaptable rooms (staying in the same room for admission to discharge) to the way caregivers work. They're not only collaborating with healthcare providers and medical industry partners, they're also drawing from the expertise of architects and design firms such as Herman Miller.

In the end, it's about human connection. When we relate to those around us by understanding their back stories and their circumstances, we improve the way we work, the way we live, the way we take care of one another, the way we relate going forward and, as Martin Luther King Jr. would say, building the "beloved community" that edifies us all.

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215 Comments

Yeah, beating cancer is so overrated.

Thanks for sharing...much to think about..... being appreciative..... lissen.....reach out

Please share more of what you are going through. From someone who wamts to hear your story.

Wonderful, wonderful....everyone should watch this....having worked in healthcare, I have seen many of these circumstances....Thank you...

34 years in the profession and still happy to be here.

Very thought provoking video that all health care providers should watch!

You never know what the person you meet in a hospital, on the street, or wherever you happen to be may be going through. Sometimes a genuine smile can go a long way to ease another's pain. It doesn't matter if it's reciprocated and it doesn't cost a thing. Beautifully done!!

Are you Oleta who attended East Carolina University?

This was a wonderful tear wrenching description of how we relate to our patients, and personal issues in our everyday lives, not only professionally, but personally. I have to admit that this brought tears to my eyes as it awakened many feelings both personally and professionally as I said previously. I believe that all our caregivers can relate to this in all aspects.

very moving and excellent. Should be sharing with everyone! Reality check.

It is, as the proverbial story goes, "one step at a time", one person at a time. Yet too many are not that deliberate; not that strong; not that internally, intellectually, and emotionally assured that kindness, compassion, goodness & caring will indeed ever make a difference. What a different WORLD we would inhabit if such simple, basic actions and attitudes could create TRUE human connection, among every single living soul, equally & without one iota of envy, superiority, disdain, suspicion, and malice.

Thank you. This is wonderful, and so important.

This is just beautiful! Very, very moving! It has prompted me to take a fresh look at how I treat the people around me. Thank you very much for posting this!

Dying alive.

Wonderful and so on point. Thanks for sharing with the world.

Pam Brotherton-Sedano, MS, RN
VP Patient Safety
O'Connor Hospital, San Jose, CA

I recently lost my wife to Pancratic Cancer. I feel things now and I see things now in other people that I never noticed before. If I know then what I know now would I have acted differently toward others? Definately!

This video is amazing! I will be doing an intensive unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) this summer at a hospital up here in Maine, training for the ministry and for chaplaincy. This video makes me aware of all I am called to do, inspires me to reach beyond anything I have done until now, and to pray for the strength and awareness and sensitivity to do the work! Thank you for this video!

This reminds me of how incredibly grateful I am to be a hospital chaplain! Thank you

As a nurse for over 40 years, I loved this video and was moved to tears. This is something all of us need to watch over and over again. It is easy to become jaded in our profession, we see so much. We all need to be reminded that while we may have seen this a million times, our patients and families and co-workers are experiencing this for the first time.

very beautiful and moving;we need to be more tender and tolerant with each other.

Life is to short and you do not went you are going to be in one of those cases, We are human and have to understand and have compassion for another human being

A very meaningful video,we should spend some time watching people around us.

this is simply awesome

Beautiful. Thank you

An amazing video. My mother, Professor Roselyn Lindheim (UC Berkeley) was involved in human-centered design decades ago before her death in 1987. She was the architect for the original Stanford Children's Hospital and the Planetree unti at Presbytarian Hospital in SF - both very "human-centered". Many of her writings speak to this. She would have loved this video. Thank you.

These are such great things to keep in mind as I begin a career in healthcare. I'm sharing it will my classmates and professors.

Very moving . Good reminder if what it can be easy to forget as we go about our busy days.

Wonderful. I need to see this often to put things in perspective. Thank you!

I;m glad I had the chance to watch this!

Very good.

Personally I think this video is something all employees should see, either when they become new employees as part of their orientation and every year, as part of our online annual compliance assesments. This would really help keep everyone in concensus with patient care and it is also a great tool for teamwork.

I have always had the ability to see into others' hearts and souls. This video will deepen that ability. Thank you...

Wow very powerful. Reminds me why I got into nursing and how I have always tried to practice. Everyone has crosses to bear but helping each other lightens the load for all. God bless all the people suffering tonight and all the family/caregivers that are their support.

Excellent video! Thanks to the Clevelend Clinic for making the effort to produce such a grand segment that should inspire us all to respect others and what they are going through!

Takes my breath away, now I don't feel so lonely anymore with the exact same question I always ask, when I see careless and cruel behavior among humans around me.

This is so touching. Reminds me of the beginning of the moving Love Actually with people at the arrivals gate at an airport. Here's a link... http://www.onbeing.org/blog/an-empathy-video-that-asks-you-to-stand-in-someone-elses-shoes/5063

Poignant video. Thank you.

One cannot adequately use words to describe the wonder of the video---one can only suggest to others that they view it to develop their own feelings. And as for me, to say that I was totally inspired by feelings given rise by the video would be an understatement

This makes total sense to me having juts been alongside my mother in a recent hospital experience which has terrified her and has impacted on how she now feels even in her own home. Love the bit about being in the same space from admission to discharge- yes , yes, yes.!

Thanks for this wonderful video reminder.

What a beautiful Video. It certainly makes me think.

Thank you for a beautiful video.
Reminds me to appreciate this precious gift of life and hopefully be able to share with, be aware of and have compassion for us all.

Thank you for generously sharing this touching and caring video with people around the world and that I in Johannesburg could experience it without cost.

Empathy... compassion, the skewer that goes through us all

Thanks for sharing this very inspiring video; a wonderful reminder to enter into the world of our brothers and sisters that we so often walk by on the street every day, yet because of distraction, forgeting them. This video promotes a way of thinking/feeling about others that is akin to Jesus' "Love your neighbor as yourself." Watching this is a good shot in the arm for us Orthodox Christians who are midway through Lent, striving to implement the directive to love our brother/sister, and not judge him/her, as we pray daily in this most central and important prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk.

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages. Amen.

Fr. Maximos
St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church
Des Moines, Iowa

EXCELLENT!

Thank you. This is beautiful and a good reminder to cut everyone some slack, because we won't know what they are carrying.

Thanks for this inspiring story. The more that hospitals can become wellness centre the quicker rates of illness will fall.

Very inspiring and impressive. Make us more alert of the needs of others and being an "active listener". How important it is to have a beloved and caring hospital and empathetic personnels.

A very moving, thoughtful reminder to all viewers to make us understand that we never know what's going on for others as we walk passed each other or catch each other's eyes for a mindless moment. But now thanks to this filmed social comment, maybe we'll smile more readily. Or when we interact we'll become present in that moment and take the opportunity to observe/feel unspoken currents of communication, ask questions then listen, really listen.

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