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Emotional Quotient is defined as a crucial range of abilities that matter immensely in terms of how we do in life. These range of abilities include self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy. They add up to a different way of being smart, and are factors at work when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well.

Although shaped by childhood experience, our emotional quotient can be nurtured and strengthened throughout adulthood – with immediate benefits to our health, our relationships, and our work.

Socrates’ injunction “know thyself” speaks to the awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.  Psychologists use the term metamood to mean awareness of one’s own emotions.  In reference to Emotional Quotient recognizing a feeling as it happens makes us better pilots of our lives being more certain about how we feel about personal decisions from who to marry to what career move to make.  Being aware of our feelings also makes us better able to shake off a bad mood.

Empathy is defined as understanding another person’s feelings by remembering or imagining being in a similar situation.  It can be broken down in to 3 distinct components: knowing another person’s feelings, feeling what that person feels and responding compassionately to another’s distress.  Empathy leads to acts of altruism which is known to activate emotions that are vital to the maintaining of good health.   Life devoid of empathy begets psychopathic behavior.  The sure sign of any psychopath is deceit and reckless disregard for others’ feeling.  When it comes to empathy psychopaths have none, in fact they have difficulty recognizing fear or sadness in people’s faces or in their voices.  Empathy is an innate quality that can be shaped by experience.  Infants as young at 3 months old exhibit empathy when they get upset at the sound of another baby crying.  The greater your ability to “empathize” the greater your EQ.

It may be hard to believe but that spongy confection made from a soft mixture of sugar, albumen and gelatin – known as marshmallows, can help scientists see the future.  More specifically by watching four year olds interact with them.  The children are put in a plain room one by one and are made a simple offer.  You can have this marshmallow right now, the researcher says, but if you wait while I run an errand, you can have two marshmallows when I get back.  And then he leaves.

Some children go for the marshmallow the moment the researcher leaves the room.  Some last a while longer before they give in.  But others are determined to wait.  When the researcher returns he gives these children their hard-earned marshmallows.

By the time the children reach the age of around 13 something remarkable has happened.  A survey of the children’s parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds held out for the second marshmallow generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable teenagers.  The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn.  They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges.  And when some of the students in the two groups took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the kids who had held out longer scored an average of 210 points higher.

It seems that the ability to delay gratification is a master skill, a triumph of the reasoning brain over the impulsive one.  It is a sign in short of emotional intelligence.  And it doesn’t show up on IQ tests.

The good news is that EQ – the ability to read your own emotions, to empathize with others and to be disciplined is a skill that can be developed.

Adriano

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day

The story of Rick and Dick Hoyt is one of the greatest love stories of all time, as the Host on NBC put it, “its the story of a Father who climbs mountains and goes to the end of the Earth and back to give his son a better life, a life that transcends the limitations of his body.” Rick has celebral palsy, caused by loss of oxygen to his brain at birth because his umbillical cord was  wrapped around his neck.

Rick & Dick compete together in marathons and triathalons.  To date Team Hoyt have run over 950 races including some 60 marathons and triathlon competing in 6 iron mans, the ultimate test of strength and endurance.  Dick carries him in a special seat up front as they bike, pulls him in a special boat as they swim, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run.  The Hoyt’s motto is “you can” and they’ve made so many believe anything is possible.

The doctors told Rick and Judy Hoyt that their son would never be able to walk or talk.   They said forget Rick put him away in an institution he’s going to be nothing but a vegetable for the rest of his life.  But Rick and Judy said “no we’re not going to put Rick away, we’re going to bring him home and bring him up like any other child.”

While in high school Rick learned about a five mile charity run for a paralyzed teenager and he told his Dad “I have to do something for him, I have to let him know that life goes on”, for Dick this was a call to action as a Father.  Rick told his Dad “when I’m out running I feel like my disability disappears”  and that was all Dick needed to hear.

When asked what one thing Rick wished he could give his father, his reply was “The thing I’d most like is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once.”

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Lines That Divide US

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  These words, spoken by Aristotle, are too often ignored and the price we pay is high .  When street gangs substitute for families and schoolyard insults end in stabbings it is a sure sign of a lack of empathy.  Being able to empathize is a crucial ability that forms part of Emotional Quotient (EQ) and matters immensely in terms of how we do in life.  Empathy has to do with knowing another person’s feelings, feeling what that person feels and responding compassionately to another’s distress.

Empathy acts as a buffer to cruelty and is a quality known to be lacking in child molesters and psychopaths.  Empathy is also known to lead to acts of altruism which is known to activate emotions that are vital to the maintaining of good health.

Schools that develop emotional literacy programs, designed to help children learn to manage anger, frustration, and loneliness see lunch time fights, for example, decrease from two or three a day to almost none.

How much happier would we be, how much more successful as individuals and civil as a society, if we were more alert to the importance of Emotional Quotient?

Aristotle also wrote: “Anyone can become angry, that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right way — this is not easy.”

The good news is that empathy is an innate quality that can be shaped by experience.  The greater your ability to empathize the greater your EQ.

Adriano

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Helper’s High

Helper’s High

There is no shortage of studies that show that happier people live longer.  They are also less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes and pain from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.  It is also well documented that people who express positive emotions come down with fewer colds and flus after being exposed to the virus than those who express negative emotions like anger sadness or stress.  So how can we get “happy” and stay there?

In their book, The Healing Power of Doing Good, Allan Luks and Peggy Payne talk about the “helper’s high,” a feeling of exhilaration and a burst of energy similar to that experienced after intense exercise, followed by a period of calmness and serenity.

For the book, Luks studied over 3,000 Americans involved in volunteer services to find that these do-gooders reported a helper’s high that lasted several weeks and improved other aspects of their lives. They also report that the euphoric sensation returned when they remembered the action of helping others.

The benefits of charity go beyond improving sensations and emotions.  Of the group Luks studied for his book, 90% reported that volunteering acted as an antidote to stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia.

Another study found that members of volunteer organizations lived longer and experienced better health. The volunteers experienced noteworthy decreases in levels of blood pressure, stomach acid and cholesterol counts. Harvard University in a similar study dubbed the “Mother Teresa effect” showed 132 students a film about Mother Teresa’s work among the Calcutta’s poor, and than measured the level of Immunoglobin A, present in the saliva.  The test revealed increased levels of immunoglobin A which is the body’s first defense against the common cold virus – all after simply witnessing somebody else involved in charity work.

These studies show how important acts of altruism are in boosting a sense of well-being and maintaining good health.  It also shows why we should never pass up a chance to deliver a thank you note to someone who has been especially kind or helpful but never properly appreciated, or why it would pay to be there for someone even though it is not convenient.  But perhaps most importantly it also supports the dictum that the surest way to happiness is to lose yourself in a cause greater than yourself.

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Does Social Networking help us live longer?

Can social networking sites like facebook and myspace actually help us live longer?  Facebook claims to have over 400 Million active users and that the average user has 130 friends.   As of yet, no studies have examined a direct connection between online social networking and physical health but there are decades of research demonstrating links between social support and health.

“The more connected you are with other people the healthier you will be both physically and emotionally.  The less connected you are the less meaningful your life”.  This from a study by C. Norman Shealy, M.D. and Carolyn Myss, Ph.D.,  they found that love and being loved is a factor in improving the immune system, adding to life expectancy and creating overall happiness.  Their research shows that even bad habits like smoking and overeating have less of an impact on those who are relationally connected and have a loving support system.

Another study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, ran for 10 years and was done on the older population of South Australia.  It also found that people who keep up with their BFFs have longer life expectancies.

In the study researchers collected the names of men and women over age 70 from electoral rolls and recruited 1,477 to be in the study. Using surveys and questionnaires, they asked participants to rate the quality of their relationships with their children, other relatives, friends, and confidants and how frequently participants had contact with those individuals. To control for other potential contributors to premature death, researchers also asked about their health problems and other lifestyle factors (smoking, drinking, or depression, for instance). After 10 years, roughly 40 percent of the original participants were still living. The authors found that those who remained were more likely in their survey responses to have reported having friends and confidants than did the individuals who had subsequently died.

Being social and having deep connectedness with other people is what we we are made for and its an indispensable condition for human flourishing.  Although simply having a rolodex full on names or thousands of friends on your Facebook profile won’t guarantee you a longer life, the evidence certainly seems to be clear that as human beings we are hardwired to connect with others and that those who master the skill of cultivating great friendships will live the most rewarding and fulfilling lives.

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Get Up and Win the Race!

Win the Race – Scott Goodfellow Style

All of life is like a race, with ups and downs and all,

all you have to do to win the race is get up each time you fall.

Quit, give up, you’re beaten they still shout in your face,

but a stronger voice inside you says: Get Up and Win the Race!