It isn’t gonna come as any surprise that in today’s world the importance of emotional intelligence is paramount, for all the right reasons. With the surge in the research studies1, it has been concluded time and time again that a person with higher emotional intelligence is often considered to be more competent at work, more understanding in relationships, and lives a better life as a whole. This clearly demonstrates the importance of emotional intelligence and why we all should be adept at handling our emotions.
But, what exactly is Emotional Intelligence?
As the name suggests, the intelligence or the know-how associated with understanding, acknowledging, supervising, and maneuvering our own emotions to aid us to alleviate stress, anxiety, and worry; empathize with others, make better decisions in life, diminish the everyday conflicts going inside our heads, effectively and constructively communicate with others is what emotional intelligence is all about.
Our emotions play a critical role in shaping and molding both our personal and professional lives. The importance of emotional intelligence could be understood by the simple fact that sometimes these emotions become the more important deciding factor than the knowledge, information, and experience stored in our minds.
Though the significance and necessity of acquiring information and knowledge are incontrovertibly significant, nothing beats understanding your emotions, the emotions of people around us, and consequently elevating your emotional intelligence because we are emotional beings at the end of the day.
Emotional Side VS Logical Side
I am sure this is an everyday battle for more or less every person in this world. Should we listen to what our emotional side has to convey or to what the logical or the rational part is telling us to do? This is an ongoing tussle that sometimes gets the better of us.
“I should probably study, my exams are around the corner. But my niece has just come from her college after a complete year so I should spend some time with her”, “I better complete my work today as the project deadline is tomorrow, but all my childhood friends have organized a small get together party today and it’s been a lifetime since I last met them, so what on earth should I do now?”
Let’s be honest, we have all been at such crossroads innumerable times, where there is a tug of war going on between the logical brain and the emotional brain and we are that rope that’s being pulled from left to right like a rubber band, just waiting to be torn into two.
To put it in a nutshell, there is a conflict, where we either have to do something we probably don’t like or repent later when we do the thing we actually like. Both have their pros and cons.
If we stay back and decide to do the work then we will repent the fact that we should have taken the day off and just chill out with our childhood friends, but on the other hand, if we did hang out with our friends, then somewhere back in the mind, we might feel guilty for not completing our task at the given deadline.
This is how important of a role emotional intelligence plays in our life. The key is to create a balance in life between your emotional side and your logical side.
Too Emotional or not Emotional at all?
Let me give you another example. Say, you are doing some kind of work, and you are pestered by your family and relatives constantly who keep on telling you that you shouldn’t do it the way you are doing, or try something else.
Now, there can be two approaches to this situation. The first is where you are highly emotional and all you can do is think about yourself. You don’t give a shit about what advice anyone has for you because like I said before, you are only concerned with what your emotions have to say.
This is a pretty bonkers approach in life.
The second approach is where you are not emotional at all, and this is where you lose your individuality. You basically agree with what everyone else is saying, without thinking twice. Creating your own path isn’t your cup of tea and you are at the mercy of other life for your entire life. Needless to say, this is even more nuts than the previous one.
Although there is a third path too, the path one should strive for. The path where you balance your emotional and your practical side. By choosing this approach you neither straightaway dismiss someone else’s advice, nor you jump all over it without thorough thinking.
Polishing your Emotional Intelligence
First things first, you need to check the background of the one who’s advising you. Is he an experienced player in your field? Has he been through what you are going through? Does he have the thorough knowledge and expertise of your arena?
And if the answer is yes, then you gotta put your emotions aside and listen to what he has to say with an open mind, in an unbiased manner. Remember, you are still just listening to him, you haven’t agreed on doing anything yet. Many people just dismiss any unsolicited advice.
Maybe it can change your whole playing field altogether. And besides, you might be doing something wrong somewhere or the other which is why people are coming to advise you. Had you been successful already, then people would come to you for your advice and not the other way round.
Now, once you listen to what people have to say, then you need to ponder upon their advice patiently and enthusiastically, and only if you are convinced with their idea should you go ahead and follow them, otherwise you don’t have to. As simple as that.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
The importance of emotional intelligence could be understood by the simple fact that the person with a low Emotional Quotient(EQ) would probably choose from the first two approaches only, which is not the most intelligent way to handle things in life. It takes emotional intelligence for someone to be both open enough to intake new ideas(the helpful and practical ones) and challenge their old beliefs and to disregard the new ideas(the unhelpful and impractical ones) and stay firm with their old beliefs and values.
That’s how you maintain harmony between your emotions and your logic.
The world doesn’t give a rat’s ass towards your emotions and feelings. Your emotions are your headache and your own responsibility. Nobody else is gonna take care of your emotions for you. “I wanna be successful”, “I want to climb higher and higher in the corporate ladder”, “I want my business to thrive”—these are all your emotions and your problems to deal with.
The practical or the logical side of you will tell you that in order to keep your emotions intact, you gotta understand the emotions of the people around you who are ultimately gonna help you in getting what you want. One needs to accurately account for what exactly the people around you want in order for you to get what you want.
Suffice to say that a high emotional intelligence involves not just looking out for yourself, but also caring about what others want too, as it is directly related to your own well-being.
Keep your bosses happy and satisfied and they will take care of your ambition, understand what your clients and users are looking for and they will automatically look after your business, empathize with the people you are in a relationship with, and they will make your personal life full of sunshine and rainbows. That’s how important having good emotional intelligence is.
Life is this simple, but we are so busy making it complex and confusing at each and every turn that even life has had enough and it can’t help but *facepalm* looking at our actions. We get so caught up in doing all the trivial and meaningless things that we miss the whole point of what we are actually trying to achieve and why we are doing it in the first place.
A Practical Example
Take an example of my own field: blogging. People can get so busy in doing SEO, marketing, branding, designing, colors, texts, fonts, and obsess over 112 other inconsequential tasks that they forget the most crucial aspect of a blog aka ‘writing’. You can perfect your marketing and designing play all you want, but everything else will fall apart without some solid content. On the other hand, though you are not the best in all the marketing and SEO stuff, if your writing is amazing and your content is meaningful, then you should be fine in the long run.
The same concepts can be applied in every street of life as well. These might sound simple and pretty straightforward concepts, well, because they actually are. You just need to realize that one small thing the others actually want. Your emotional stance and your logical stance should go hand in hand. The day you genuinely understand this, your life will take a positive turn on its own.
But alas, most of us didn’t which is why we get all emotional and sentimental. We think about our own emotions, feelings, and thoughts all the time, totally forgetting the fact that others are humans too, and they also have feelings and emotions as we do.
People do what they think is right for them, which will make them happy and satisfied. They act in accordance with their own emotional intelligence. So, stop whining about why x,y,z person did l,m,n things with you. He was probably doing what he thought was best for him and if you are getting hurt in the process then you can’t simply pin the blame on him.
You are so SELFISH!
You yourself are doing what you think is best for you—the things that will make you happy, blissful, and peaceful. And so is everyone else. But since our thinking is dated and more on the orthodox side, we rarely see this side of the coin. This is why improving our emotional intelligence is so imperative.
People have it the wrong way around. If you notice closely you make friends so that you can have fun and enjoy, not because you wanna take someone else’s responsibility to make them happy. You get married so that you can have a partner to spend time with and share things with, who can understand you and be with you through every thick and thin. You divorce or break up so that you can feel easy and let go of the burden of a toxic relationship. Becoming successful and earning money is associated with your happiness and a comfortable lifestyle. You give that money under the name of charity or philanthropy so that you can feel better about yourself. You connect with people and cut people loose according to your own whims, expectations, and desires.
Even I started this blog for my own self first. I write because I feel great writing my heart out, and if people appreciate my work, then, well, that’s just a side benefit. It makes me light, calm, serene, peaceful, and thorough when I pen down my thoughts. I don’t wanna pretend to be a saint or something trying to make the world a better place, I am simply doing what I feel is best for me.
Though in the beginning I genuinely started with the impression that I will be trying to help people out in whatever way I can, pretty soon it became clear to me that I was actually helping myself first, and then someone else. I was doing myself a favor by trying to help people out. This is God’s honest truth.
Don’t be under the false impression that you are doing anything for the other person. This should be pretty clear that you are doing whatever it is, for your own satisfaction. Even when you help others, you are doing it for your well-being only. At times when you feel like you are sacrificing yourself for someone else, well it’s because that ‘someone’ has become an extension of yours or someone you care about, so ultimately you are doing it for your own goddamn self.
The Secret Sauce
We all have a certain degree of selfishness engraved in us and it’s alright. The faster we accept and understand it, the more sorted and easier our lives will be. Once you see this through, life will essentially become a game. Now, your relationships can be rock solid because you have understood this nuance of life that the other person is first interested in how you can make his life better.
So, you just need to figure out how you can help him accomplish it, and once you actually put your head in figuring it out, you will realize that generally it’s something pretty straightforward and easy, not something complex or out of the world object we think of.
Your partner might not want all those fancy dinners, costly stones, branded clothes, or extravagant parties you thought she wants. Maybe all she wants is your undivided attention and an empathetic listener out of you. But since you never wrapped your head around it—you might be doing everything except the thing that she really wants from you—you might never be able to keep your partner happy the way you want. That’s the game of life you need to understand. Likewise, you just need to figure out what it really is, people close to you, actually want in life to be happy.
And, once you can make the other person happy, your relationships will bloom, and consequently so will your life. Essentially you are looking out for the other person because you want to look after yourself. In a nutshell, at the end of the day, you are helping others help you lead a better life, filled with joy, happiness, and contentment.
Help Others Help You
Ultimately life is but a string of relationships you develop over the years. No matter where you are or what you do, you are gonna have to build some healthy relationships—be it at a job, for career, business opportunities, friendships, colleagues, employees—and in order to achieve that, you gotta start acknowledging the importance of emotional intelligence.
People who live miserable and sorrowful life never really grasped the importance of emotional intelligence. All they care about is themselves, which has what put them in the shitty position they are currently in. And let’s be honest, understanding this is no rocket science, but once you do your life will surely take off like a rocket, straight to mars.
Let me tell you a rather interesting paradox of life. The more we think about ourselves—our emotions, feelings, and thoughts—the less probable it is for us to feel cheerful and jolly. And the more we think about others—how others feel, what they want, how can you help them—the more probable it is for us to feel contented and merry.
If you can diminish your so-called ‘responsibility’ of keeping your own self happy all the time to a bare minimum, it can, ironically, actually help you in the long run. That’s how important of a role emotional intelligence can play in your life.
Instead of obsessing over yourself day in day out, what if you obsess over the people close to you(friends, family, relatives), the company you work for, the business you are building, the clients you have, the users reading your blog? Will there be any power in this world that can keep you from being happy now? You would have completely changed the dynamics of your life by altering your variables, changing your operations, and introducing new constants in this equation of life.
One actually needs an open mind to be able to chew on this. This is totally unorthodox and completely out of the box. We have been told for all our lives to look after ourselves, keep ourselves happy and smiling, but evidently, we have done a rather poor job. The fact of the matter is that though the objective of that experiment is noble and inspiring, the methodology sucks big time and so do the results.
Selfless is the new Selfish
If you want to look out for yourselves, start looking out for others; if you want to be happy and smiling in life, make people around you smile; if you want to be loved, don’t wait for someone to give you love, give love first.
Trust me, you are gonna be doing yourself a favor by helping out others. This may go against our basic psyche, but once put it in action you will start getting the hang of it.
People are stupid and naive. They don’t actually know how to act selfishly, and knowingly or unknowingly they don’t have the best interests for themselves at heart. The funny thing is that, if you actually are selfish, you have to be selfless. Selfless people make the best selfish.
This changes the definition of ‘selfish’ altogether.
People who claim to be selfish, who actually don’t care about others at all, are either stupendous jerks or profound idiots. They may claim to be concerned with one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, but they don’t know that it’s actually the perfect recipe for disaster in making and they are gonna get the exact opposite of what they were actually looking for.
So, folks, if you are genuinely selfish people in life(which you should be), if you truly are concerned with your happiness, then you gotta be selfless first. Only then can you be sure of all the goodies in life. There’s no harm in being a selfish guy, as long as you act the right way. Fascinating, right?
Don’t Get Caught Up in Right and Wrong
How funny life is! We do what we think is right, and we call ourselves honest, truthful, and the most self-righteous person in the world. Others also do what they think is right, and we call them manipulative, liars, and betrayers. The whole world is busy explaining how ‘I AM RIGHT’ and the ‘WHOLE WORLD IS WRONG.’ This notion again signifies the importance of emotional intelligence we need to catch up on to make our lives meaningful and conflictless.
Once you strengthen your emotional intelligence, you will come to this epiphany that life is not about right or wrong, as there is literally no end to this madness. If you could genuinely take a step back and put a question mark on your own ideologies of right and wrong, you will automatically start seeing the loopholes in them.
But we never do it. We are afraid that we might be wrong, afraid of bruising our pumped up ego, afraid of what the world might think of us, afraid of making a total ass of ourselves, afraid that we might become a laughing stock, afraid that we will embarrass ourselves, afraid to confront the fact that we might not be as smart as we thought we were.
But hey, when it comes to proving someone else wrong, that’s something we take great pride in, our chest widens, our backs straightens, and there’s a smirk on our face after sticking it in. This is stupid which needs to be stopped. Real freedom and real liberation come from seeing the wrong of the right, and the right of the wrong, and ultimately realizing that nothing’s right or wrong. Then you can come out of this labyrinth and live a really beautiful and peaceful life.
Life is not just a ping pong game of right and wrong, it’s beyond that. Life’s about being happy which has got nothing to do with right and wrong, life’s about loving which has got nothing to do with the notions of right and wrong, life’s about living life to its fullest which again has got nothing to do with right and wrong.
Being entangled in the web of right and wrong doesn’t make you happy or calm, instead, it creates unnecessary stress and tension in one’s life. The pressure of being right all the time and the stress of not being wrong is what some people call ‘living’ which, needless to say, is totally outrageous.
One needs to let go of these beliefs of right and wrong to actually live life the way it is meant to be. Everything is right or wrong, also nothing is right or wrong, and in between of them, there is one thing that can’t be questioned: ‘Happiness’. As long as you can spread happiness to others, without compromising on your core values, you are good to go as this is a testament to your emotional intelligence. How intelligently and ingeniously can you crack this puzzle is what your emotional intelligence conveys about you.
Rumi said “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, There is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
You have created your own world of what’s right and wrong based upon your experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, vision, situations, circumstances, and surroundings. Similarly, the people around you have done the same. Consequently, no one can have the exact same thoughts about a particular thing, there can be a bazillion permutation and combination. If one doesn’t rise above this, conflicts are inevitable. There are simply too many variables in play.
But the minute you see this simple phenomenon and transcend it, you will start taking things lightly. You will realize that both you and the other person are right from their respective point of view and hence you are not gonna take it too seriously.
Besides having low emotional intelligence, another reason why we get too caught up in this maze is that we haven’t really decided what we truly want from life. And since we haven’t figured out the most important thing in life, we just give too many damns to almost every trivial and petty situation in life.
As you figure out this pertinent aspect of your life, you simply won’t be able to spare your time in the everyday argle-bargle of life. Tell me honestly, have you ever genuinely pondered upon what’s the most important thing in your life, why are you living? 99% of the population simply won’t think about it, and 99% of the remaining 1% population will figure something out on a very superficial basis, probably something they heard from their friends or read on the internet. The rarest of rare will go out of the way to actually figure this out and ultimately stick with it.
It doesn’t have to be the same thing for every person. What’s the most important thing in my life may not be even on your top 10 list. When you lose your way and seem lost in the journey of life, this ultimate purpose will act as a compass to help you guide through the storm. Otherwise one is likely to remain astray throughout their course of life, which is not a particularly pretty situation to be in.
Emotional intelligence is listening to your heart with your mind.