I define "empathy" this way: "I understand some of what you are going through because I've been through similar experiences myself."
On the 4th week after my quadruple by-pass, that I still can't believe I had, I very tentatively ventured out to get a haircut. The barber is about a ten minute drive from my our house. It was the first time I had driven in a little over a month. I was terrified. What if I had a wreck and the air bag popped out and hit my chest? What if I had a flat tire? What if some young thing ran me off the road? Then it hit me, this must be what the really elderly must feel every time they drive to Wal-Mart or to their pharmacy or wherever they have to go at the same speed I was traveling at--super slow.
That one short drive changed me. It opened my fragile heart just a little more. I went from being the person who was always impatient with the old person slowing down the rest of humanity (that is putting it mildly)and became a man who will never blow his horn (or at least will try really hard not to) at one of seniors again. I can empathize finally.
What has increased your ability to be more empathetic than you used to be?