perception, understanding, and reaction to the distress or need of another human being

Sympathy exists when the feelings or emotions of one person lead to similar feelings in another person so that they share feeling. Mostly sympathy means the sharing of unhappiness or suffering, but it can also mean sharing other (positive) emotions. In a broader sense, it can refer to the sharing of political or ideological sentiments, such as in the phrase "a communist sympathiser".

a dog showing sympathy to a girl who is depressed. By Briton Riviere, c.1878

The psychological state of sympathy is closely linked with that of empathy, but is not identical to it. Empathy is understanding and feeling another person's emotions as they feel them, but makes no statement as to how they are viewed.

Sympathy, by contrast, implies a degree of equal feeling, that is, the sympathiser views the matter similarly to how the person themselves does. It thus implies concern, or care or a wish to reduce negative feelings others are experiencing.

In different religions, 'Sympathy' can mean different things, for example in Buddism, it means the sharing of thought, soul, emotion, and part of life with people close to you. In Hindi, it means roughly the same thing, but a small fraction of the definition is different. It means benevolence, clemency, compassion, grace, humanism, humanity, mercy, pity, tenderness, and ruth. Many beliefs also relate 'sympathy' to 'love', as the two forms of mind status have power over each other in emotional levels.

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