Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ultimate game-changer for living a happy, healthy and rewarding life because it is a skill set all of us can grow and attain. The beauty of EQ is that it’s all-inclusive and accessible to every one of us.
Like any skill worth improving, it’s something we must devote time to building.
Let’s first define what emotional intelligence is. Peter Salovey, the President of Yale University and John Mayer, say that it is the ability to:
“Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions. Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions — both our own and others.”
This article will teach you how emotionally intelligent people recognize, understand and manage their emotions, as well as the emotions of others. As the author of an upcoming book on emotional intelligence, I’ve dedicated my life to studying how to use it, and helping organizations and leaders transform their personal and professional lives by leveraging its power.
I’ll show you how you can improve your emotional intelligence each day to live a happier and healthier life. Let’s first begin with self-awareness, a skill we can continuously work on and improve on our own.
They Have a Healthy Relationship With Self
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” — Aristotle
Self-awareness is the ability to understand ourselves, the way we feel, why we feel that way and to use that knowledge to continuously, learn, and improve. At its core — self-awareness is an intimate evolutionary process of self-discovery that elicits joy, pain, discomfort, curiosity and strength. Because getting to know yourself isn’t easy work — it’s hard, but always worth it.
Self-awareness helps you to discover your passion, values, purpose, mission and goals. It brings clarity and allows you to make sense of your past, present and future, all while you evolve as an analytical, reflective thinker. To give love, hope and joy to others, you first must know yourself and what you’re capable of giving. Self-awareness allows this magical work to take place.
Dr. Tasha Eurich puts forth:
“Leaders ”who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness, who seek honest feedback from loving critics, and who ask what instead of why can learn to see themselves more clearly — and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers.”
How to improve self-awareness:
- Develop a mindfulness practice for 30 minutes each day to listen to your thoughts, analyze them and allow yourself to experience those emotions
- Determine the values that give meaning to your life (e.g. honesty, faith)
- Clarify what you want most out of life and why you feel that way
- Practice self-care and speak positive words of affirmation over your life
They Prioritize What’s Important
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Happy and healthy people that live with high emotional intelligence are able to regulate their emotions and prioritize what is most important to them. The best visual representation I’ve ever seen of how to assess your wants and needs in life comes from the great Dr. Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” seen here:
Self-management is how you use self-awareness to help you manage your emotions and do so in a way that aligns with your values. It helps you to battle adversity and overcome limiting beliefs and barriers that stand in your way. It gives you the confidence and tools to plan your day in accordance with what you want to do to become happier, healthier and more productive.
How to prioritize what’s most important:
- Plan your day into time blocks; You don’t need to plan every minute; Group your time into categories that align with your values and goals
- Declare the things in your life that are essential (needs) and create a prioritized list of the things you value the most (this will allow you to place an emphasis on how you manage your time)
- Do the “Big Rocks” Activity:
- Big Rocks= What are the most important parts of your day?
(Possible Examples): Family time, writing, job presentation, learning, restPebbles= What are the things that need to get done? The more urgent/necessary items?
- (Possible Examples): Work task; paying bills; writing a term paperSand= What are the “little pieces” that supplement your bigger ones?
- (Possible Examples): Planning; Helping team members; Professional DevelopmentWater= What is the glue that holds it all together for you?
- (Possible Examples): Defined success & purpose; your values; knowing who you serve; why what you do matters
They Use Adversity to Improve
“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” — Michelle Obama
Emotionally intelligent people are able to use adversity, challenges, mistakes, and failures as a fuel that powers them to greater growth and opportunity. Instead of living in fear, worry or insecurity, emotionally intelligent people embrace every circumstance of life and always live with a positive attitude and great work ethic.
There’s no avoiding adversity. We have to face it head-on, with confidence in our minds and courage in our hearts. Chances are, you have faced considerable adversity in your life. How are you handling it? Do you run away and hope it will blow over or do you face it head-on and resolve to change your circumstances? The answer will determine your happiness and health.
How to overcome adversity and use it for motivation:
- View every difficult circumstance as a challenge; use your self-awareness identify opportunities for you to grow and set goals to come out stronger
- Give yourself a daily “pep talk” that involves positive thoughts, affirmations and visualization of you doing things that make you happy
- Identify the fears you feel; ask yourself, how is this helping me?
They Have A Mastery of Their Emotions
“It is necessary to try to surpass one’s self always: this occupation ought to last as long as life.” — Queen Christina of Sweden
Self-management is how you use self-awareness to manage your emotions in a way that aligns with your values and beliefs. It helps you to battle adversity and overcome limiting beliefs and barriers that stand in your way. Thought and identification is the first step, but taking action to regulate your emotions is what leads to happiness and mental and emotional health.
I’m a big believer in “temperature checks” when it comes to regulating our emotions. Ask yourself the tough questions so you can properly assess how you’re doing: “What am I doing to confront fear?” “How did I handle myself in a work setting where I was confronted or challenged?” “Did I let my excitement distract me from getting done what I needed to do?”
How to manage your positive and negative emotions:
- Let your positive emotions like joy, love, gratitude and awe propel you forward and help you focus on your most important matters
- Prevent negative emotions like fear, anger and envy from ruining your day; instead, understand why you’re feeling this way so you can manage yourself with confidence and a level-head to be happy and healthy
- Visualize exactly how you’d like to respond to both positive and negative emotions and put this in writing for yourself. This will give you the recognition in each moment that will help you manage yourself
They Seek to Enrich Others Lives
“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” — Alfred Adler
The saying, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is The Golden Rule, and actually predates the time of Jesus Christ. It is thousands of years old and among the finest wisdom every given to the world. It’s benefited mankind in so many ways and stands the test of time because it is outward seeking and connection-forming.
It prompts us to take the position of someone else, to show that we care and that we’re willing to give them our time, attention and yes, even love. Empathy is: “The capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”
Self-awareness precedes empathy, so focus first on how you can help yourself. As they say, during a time of turbulence or danger on an airplane, you must reach for the mask for yourself first before you can help others. After you do, you can invest your time in others and show them that you care. You can lead with your heart and help bring joy, happiness and peace to someone’s life.
How to enrich someone else’s life:
- Be a good listener. Leave your own agenda at the door. Show them that you care by listening and putting yourself in their position
- Devote time and energy to do one kind act for someone else at least once per week; this is a great way to build relationships out of selfless love
- Help them learn something new or make a connection to someone that can help them achieve their goals
We all have the power to improve emotional intelligence every day and grow this skill set and use it to our advantage. This is a power well within your control and it will help you become happier, more fulfilled and healthier.
- Work on the relationship you have with yourself every day and make it your masterpiece
- Make what’s most important to you the way you live your life
- Don’t let adversity stop you; let it fuel your path forward
- Become a master of managing your good and bad emotions so that the decisions you make are a product of your values and beliefs
- Make a point to improve the life of someone else each dayThis article originally appeared on Medium.
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