By Nasir Geelani
HAVE you ever wondered, what is the Alchemy of success, Happiness and Mental health? What makes some people more successful than others? What makes people with less knowledge and intelligence surpasses those who are very intelligent and knowledgeable? If you are wondering what that special quality is, then you are at the right place to know about it.
It is Emotional Intelligence , although defined and put into perspective in the last half of 20th century, the concept has been there for thousands of years and its importance was emphasized by all great thinkers of their times. For example, in the work of Aristotle, the “Nicomachean Ethics”, the following Quote can be found pointing towards the emotional side of human life and how emotions can be channelized.
“Those who are not angry at the things they should be angry at the thought to
be fools, and so are those who are not angry in the right way at the right time
or with the right person; for such a man is thought not to feel things nor to be
pained by them, and, since he does not get angry, he is thought unlikely to
Emotional Intelligence in mainstream psychology was defined by Salovay and Mayer and later popularized by Famous Psychologist and Writer Daniel Goleman in his best selling book “Emotional Intelligence; Why it Matters More than IQ”. According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence is an ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustration; the ability to control impulses and delay gratification; the ability to regulate one’s mood and keep distress from hampering, the ability to think, to empathize; the ability to recognize one’s own feelings and those of others; and the ability to manage emotions well within oneself and one’s relationship.
Emotional Intelligence is important in every walk of human life and at every stage from infancy to old age. For example, Emotionally Intelligent kids are able to understand more of their emotions clearly and have rich emotional vocabulary. They are better at delayed Gratification- (our emotional ability to postpone immediate pleasure for some delayed but greater benefit) which results in them being more tolerant in different endeavors of their life, from romance to career.
When we talk about success in life , we are surely referring to how successful we are in career, business, how well we go at work , how well we are with friends and family and how good we are at making and maintaining relationships. An emotionally intelligent person deals effectively with his business, can sustain losses and frustrations and can understand and connect deeply with people at the workplace this makes his work life healthy. He doesn’t mix his frustrations at job with his family or personal life as he can manage and control his emotions. He knows how to deal with one person and how to deal with another in a different way. He knows how to understand others emotions which gives him the ability to manage emotions judicially and foster interpersonal relationships.
When we talk about mental health and mental illnesses, we are definitely talking about emotions and feelings in direct or indirect ways. It must be borne in mind that emotional intelligence isn’t available in a binary way on or off rather it is on continuum and graded also not clearly graded like IQ. There is correlation between Emotional intelligence and mental health disorders like Major depressive disorders, Anxiety disorders, OCD, ADHD, Borderline personality disorders etc. Discussing each at empirical level is not in scope of this article. However, we can understand it simply: More we have control over how we use and see our emotions, more we have the ability to differentiate among different types of emotions, more we are mindful about how our thoughts give rise to emotions and vice versa, more we will be healthy mentally and physically.
You must be thinking my friend, that wise uncle, that successful relative, my aunt's children are Emotionally Intelligent and what about me. The good news is Emotional Intelligence can be increased in other words human beings can be trained in Emotional intelligence at different developmental levels however, bend the willow while it's young. Children can be trained in emotional intelligence like how to delay Gratification, anger management and other things related to the emotional side of life.
If we talk about parenting it won’t be wrong to say there is no parenting unless a parent uses his emotions wisely, judicially, and in a balanced way in training children how to use and understand their own emotions and to understand the emotions of others. Interestingly. When a parent will keep this in mind it will automatically propel a child to respond in a healthy way.
Last but not least, I would like to relate the concept of Emotional Intelligence with spirituality and Religion. Every religion must be teaching how to polish and channelize your emotions. However, I being a Muslim thankfully would try to relate Emotional intelligence with Islamic principles and customs. The Holy Quran and Prophetic pbuh tradition is filled with examples. As stated by and emphasized in Holy Quran and practiced by Prophet pbuh, I feel one’s whole deen is based on Sabr and Shukur (Patience and Gratitude). When we are in a constant state of Gratitude which is being reminded of us by us in five daily prayers and so many times, our ability to have true patience will automatically be reflected in our life, in other words we will become Emotionally Intelligent.
To conclude, I would like to say emotions are not meant to rule us rather they are our windows to see the world through different perspectives. If we understand this, we can be under emotional intelligence, for example if I am looking from one emotional window, another person can be peeping through another. Emotional intelligence is to accept and celebrate this difference.
Let’s be Mindful, let's be self-aware, let's be aware about other’s feelings Lets be Emotionally Intelligent.
Views expressed in the articles are the author's own responsibility. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is strictly for educational/informative purposes only
- The author is a Clinical psychologist and can be reached at [email protected]
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