(by Daniel Goleman)
This book was written many years ago, but still holds very true today…
It is a big topic in the world today of how Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is more powerful than that of Intellectual Intelligence (IQ)…
With more people becoming disconnected to physical social circles, the new generation are unable to connect eye contact as easily, which makes reading the body language harder, that all connects to emotions and self-awareness.
Emotions play a huge role in thoughts, decision making and individual success than is commonly acknowledged.
Read these comments that are paraphrased from Daniel Goleman to help you in this modern world where social media can cause our emotions to go out of control in a silent world…
Emotional Intelligence, which includes self control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself.
Two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these – self-restraint and compassion.
Our passions, when well exercised, have wisdom; they guide our thinking, our values, our survival. But they can easily go awry, and do so all too often.
As Aristotle saw, the problem is not with emotionality, but with the appropriateness of emotion and its expression.
The question is how can we bring intelligence to our emotions – and civility to our streets and caring to our communal life?
The emotional brain
Research has shown that in the first few milliseconds of our perceiving something we not only unconsciously comprehend what it is, but decide whether we like it or not; the “cognitive unconscious” presents our awareness with not just the identity of what we see, but an opinion about it.
Our emotions have a mind of their own, one of which can hold views quite independently of our rational mind.
The brain uses a simple but cunning method to make emotional memories register with special potency: the very same neurochemical alerting systems that prime the body to react to life-threatening emergencies by fighting or fleeing also stamp the moment in memory with vividness.
Under stress (or anxiety, or presumably even the intense excitement of joy) a nerve running from the brain to the adrenal glands atop of the kidneys triggers a secretion of the hormone epinephrine and norepinephrine, which surge through the body priming it for an emergency.
These hormones activate receptors on the vagus nerve; while the vagus nerve carries messages from the brain to regulate the heart, it also carries signals back into the brain, triggered by epinephrine and norepinephrine.
The amygdala is the main site in the brain where these signals go; they activate neurons within the amygdala to signal other brain regions to strengthen memory for what is happening.
The amygdala arousal seems to imprint in memory most moments of emotional arousal with an added degree of strength – that’s why we are more likely, for example, to remember when we went on our first date, or what we were doing when 9/11 struck.
The more intense the amygdala arousal, the stronger the imprint; the experiences that scare or thrill us the most in life are among our most indelible memories.
This means that, in effect, the brain has two memory systems, one is for ordinary facts and one for emotionally charged ones.
A special system for emotional memories makes excellent sense in evolution, of course, ensuring that animals would have particularly vivid memories of what threatens or pleases them.
But emotional memories can be faulty guides to the present.
Redford williams : psychiatrist..
One of his recommendations is to use self-awareness to catch cynical or hostile thoughts as they arise and write them down. Once angry thoughts are captured this way, they can be challenged and reappraised – this works better before angry has escalated to rage.
A combination of mindfulness and healthy skepticism would, presumably, act as a brake on the neural activation that underlies low-grade anxiety.
Actively generating such thoughts may prime the circuitry that can inhibit the limbic driving of worry; at the same time, actively inducing a relaxed state counters the signals for anxiety the emotional brain is sending throughout the body.
The sadness that a loss brings has certain invariable effects: it closes down our interest in diversions and pleasures, fixes attention on what has been lost, and saps our energy for starting new endeavors.
It leaves us in a suspended state to mourn the loss, mull over its meaning, and, finally, make the psychological adjustments and new plans that will allow our lives to continue.
Optimism, like hope, means having a strong expectation that, in general, things will turn out alright in life, despite setbacks and frustrations.
From the standpoint of emotional intelligence, optimism is an attitude that buffers people against falling into apathy, hopelessness, or depression in the face of tough going.
And, as with hope, its near cousin, optimism pays dividend in life (providing, of course, it is a realistic optimism; a too-naive optimism can be disastrous).
FLOW: THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF EXCELLENCE
“You yourself are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist. I’ve experienced this many times.. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching in a state of awe and wonderment. And it just flows out by itself”…
The state they describe is called “flow”
Being able to enter flow is emotional intelligence at its best; flow represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performance and learning.
In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energised, and aligned with the task at hand.
To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. Yet flow (or a milder microflow) is an experience almost everyone enters from time to time, particularly when performing at their peak or stretching beyond former limits.
Flow in a state of self-forgetfulness, the opposite of rumination and worry: instead of being lost in nervous preoccupation, people in flow are so absorbed in the task at hand that they lose all self-consciousness, dropping the small preoccupations – health, bills, even doing well in daily life.
In this sense moments of flow are egoless.
People in flow exhibit a masterly control of what they are doing, their responses perfectly attuned to the changing demands of the task. And although people perform at their peak while in flow, the are unconcerned with how they are doing, with thoughts of success or failure – the sheer pleasure of the act itself is what motivates them.
There are several ways to enter flow.
One is to intentionally focus a sharp attention on the task at hand; a highly concentrated state is the essence of flow.
There seems to be a feedback loop at the gateway to this zone: it can require considerable effort to get calm and focused enough to begin the task – this first step takes some discipline. But once focus starts to lock in, it takes on a force of its own, both offering relief from emotional turbulence and making the task effortless.
THE ROOTS OF EMPATHY
The root caring, stems from emotional attunement, from the capacity for empathy.
Empathy’s independence from academic intelligence has been found too in testing with a version designed for children.
Children that showed an aptitude for reading feelings nonverbally were among the most popular in their schools, the most emotionally stable.
They also did better in school, even though on average, their IQ’s were not higher than those of children who were less skilled at reading nonverbal messages. Suggesting that mastering this empathic ability smooths the way for classroom effectiveness.
HOW EMPATHY UNFOLDS
Development psychologists have found that infants feel sympathetic distress even before they fully realise that they exist apart from other people.
Even a few months after birth, infants react to a disturbance in those around them as though it were their own, crying when they see another child’s tears.
Studies from Sheldon Cohen, a psychologist (England) showed that people with more stress in their lives, the more likely they were to catch colds.
Our immune system is directly affected when we are stressed, enough to open the way to disease.
THE MEDICAL BENEFITS OF POSITIVE FEELINGS
One theory proposes that pessimism leads to depression, which in turn interferes with the resistance of the immune system to tumors and infections – an unproven speculation at present.
It may be that pessimists neglect themselves – some studies have found that pessimists smoke and drink more, and exercise less, that optimists, and are generally much more careless about their health habits.
Or it may one day turn out that the physiology of hopefulness is itself somehow helpful biologically to the body’s fight against disease.
Add the sounds of silence to the list of emotional risks to health – and close emotional ties to the list of protective factors.
Studies done over two decades involving more than thirty seven thousand people showed that social isolation – the sense that you have nobody with whom you can share your private feelings or have close contact – doubles the chances of sickness or death.
Back in 1987 a report in SCIENCE concluded “ is as significant to mortality rates as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of physical exercise”.
Smoking increases mortality risk by a factor of 1.6, while social isolation does so by a factor of 2.0, making it a greater health risk.
Isolation is harder on men than on women. Isolated men were two to three times more likely to die as were men with close social ties; for isolated women, the risk was one and a half times greater than for more socially connected women.
The difference between men and women in the impact of isolation may be because women’s relationships tend to be emotionally closer than men’s; a few strands of such social ties for a woman may be more comforting than the same small number of friendships for a man.
John Cacioppa [Ohio state University: Roommate study]
“It’s the most important relationship in your life, the people you see day in and day out, that seem to be crucial for your health. And the more significant the relationship is in your life, the more it matters for your health.”
THE HEALING POWER OF EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
“Tell us thy troubles and speak freely. A flow of words doth ever ease the heart of sorrows; it is like opening the waste where the mill dam is overfull”
Getting people to talk about the thoughts that trouble them most has a beneficial medical effect.
Simple: people write for 15-20 mins a day over five or so days, about, for example, “the most traumatic experience in your life”, or some pressing worry of the moment.
The net effect of this confessional is striking enhanced immune system function, significant drops in health centre visits, fewer days missed from work, and improved liver enzyme function (liver connected to anger meridian).
Turbulent feelings had the greatest improvements in immune function.
A pattern emerged as the “healthiest” way to ventilate troubling feelings the topic brought up; then over the course of the next several days weaving a narrative, finding some meaning in the trauma or travail.
That process, of course, seems akin to what happens when people explore such troubles in psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy in addition to surgery or medical treatment often fare better medically than do those who receive medical treatment alone.
Group therapy with others in similar situations helped women and for those fighting cancer, those that connected lived for additional months on average – and gained life expectancy.
Some emotional needs are unmet by today’s medicines; Unanswered questions feeds uncertainty, fear, catastrophizing.
TOWARD A MEDICINE THAT CARES
- Helping people better manage their upsetting feelings – anger, anxiety, depression, pessimism, and loneliness – is a form of disease prevention.
Since the data show that the toxicity of these emotions, when chronic, is on a par with smoking cigarettes, helping people handle them better could potentially have a medical payoff as great as getting heavy smokers to quit.
Emotional Intelligence :
How popular a child was in third grade has been shown to be a better predictor of mental health problems at age eighteen that anything else.
Preschool years are crucial ones for laying foundation skills, can have beneficial long term emotional and social effects on the lives of early adult years – fewer drug problems and arrests, better marriages, greater earning power.
This book helps with coaching clients, to help them understand how to connect the brain’s architecture underlying emotion and rationality, and how to nurture and strengthen our emotional intelligence when working with our children, family members or work colleagues.
We are in a generation that has changed so much from what was in front of us to what is coming behind us, so it’s crucial to find tolls and information that helps to guide you into the new year and new decade.
This book is available second hand or borrow from the library, but it’s one to definitely have on your shelf.
If you do read the entire book please let me know your thoughts.
To your health and happiness.