Intelligence is an undeniably desirable trait. Whether it’s in our romantic partners, our friends, our teachers and educators, our peers and colleagues at work, our children, our family, or in our society and the rest of the world beyond it - or even within ourselves - interacting, connecting, and communicating with people who have a greater capacity for logic, understanding, knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, abstraction, critical thinking, and problem-solving, is a wonderful and sought-after thing. But there is more than one type of intelligence, with different experts claiming that there is anything from four to 12 or beyond.
In 1983, a psychologist called Howard Gardner published a book called Frames of Mind, within which he presented an idea called The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In it, he proposed that people aren’t born with all of the intelligence that they will ever have in their lifetime, and that a measure of IQ that focuses mainly on cognitive abilities - including reasoning, memory, acquired knowledge, and mental processing speed - restricts us from measuring the other types of intelligence one may possess. Gardner’s theory has been called under question and is still up for debate, there is some truth to his observations that could be attributed to the different learning styles that people possess. And one of the ways we learn, understand, and develop, is through our emotional intelligence. But what is it?
EI, also known as EQ, is our ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Research is ongoing into the science of EI, but studies have shown that our emotions can affect the way we think, make decisions, and behave; that the impact of this can affect our relationships, physical, and mental health; and that like other skills, it can be learned and developed with time and effort. EI can help us live a life that honors, nurtures, and manages our emotions better, rather than being led or controlled by them - and that’s a skill well worth developing.
Emotions are an important part of life. Sometimes they can be difficult to experience, let alone understand, but the capacity to feel the full spectrum of emotions – from anger to joy and everything in between – is a huge part of what makes us human. It’s also an important instinct for our survival: when we’re babies, expressing emotion is our only method of communication when something isn’t right. As infants, we scream with rage or cry with grief when our needs aren’t being met. As adults, the same notion is true一except the conditioning that comes with language and cognition can leave us quite disconnected from our feelings, and unable to recognize what our emotional responses are trying to tell us. Thankfully, there are some methods we can use to try and figure it all out, such as Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel. Named after Robert Plutchik, the psychologist who came up with the concept, it’s a tool for improving emotional literacy, so that we can learn to become more in tune with our feelings.
Imagine that you're driving a car. Suddenly, something's wrong: a dog has walked out onto the road in front of you. At that moment, every other thought clears from your mind, and an intense feeling rushes through you: the impulse to swerve instantly.
Stress plays a massive role in our lives, particularly with all of the pressures that the modern day can bring. Being stuck in a traffic jam can be stressful. Reading bad news can be stressful. Having a large to-do list can be stressful. But stress often gets a bad rap: we tend to use the word stress to primarily describe bad events in our lives, rather than any good ones. But did you know that sometimes, a bit of stress can actually be good for us?
Is emotional intelligence real - and if so, why does it matter, how can it be measured, how can it benefit us, and what can we do to improve it? How do our emotions affect our behavior? How do our emotions affect the decisions we make? Can our emotions affect how we think and react? Why is it so important to understand our emotions? Emotions are sometimes described as “energy in motion” - and in a way, this is a good metaphor for the way they can move and stir us into thought, action, and reaction. As with anything else that can affect us - and the decisions we make - so profoundly, there are countless ways we can explore our emotional selves to understand them better, and in doing so, develop better skills around this language of our emotions. Don’t know where to begin this self-exploration? Here are a few questions to get you started: What are your top values? Who inspired you and why? What makes you happy, sad, or angry? Are you good or bad at asking for help? How do you deal with life’s challenges and setbacks? What do you love about yourself, and what are some things that you’re proud of? Do you know when you’re being positive or negative, and are you self-aware of why that is (and how you could shift that if you need or want to)? How do the relationships in your life make you feel? Do you control your emotions or do they control you? How can you live a life with more balance? Join us as we explore these questions and more.
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