Emotional Intelligence – a gateway to happiness

The ability to identify, manage and communicate one’s emotions at the same time being able to respond appropriately to the emotions of others is defined as Emotional Intelligence (EI). Emotional Quotient (EQ) or EI as it is popularly known, was always underestimated compared to the Intelligence Quotient (IQ). IQ is the measure of baseline intellect.

Students were and are still made to believe that academic achievements determine success in life. It is the key to a bright future. While good grades and a high IQ never hurt, they don’t guarantee prosperity and happiness in life. Psychologists have come to a conclusion that IQ accounts for only 10-25% of success. A better predictor of success is EQ. Research on Harvard pass outs showed that men with the highest scores were not as successful as their lower scoring peers in terms of their professional and personal satisfaction and happiness.

People with emotional intelligence are at an advantage in any domain of life – family, friendships, career or intimate relationships. These people are believed to be more content in life. They know how to deal with their emotions and of those around them.

Empathy is a very important part of EQ. It is the capacity to know how others feel and to sympathetically respond to them. Emotions are seldom conveyed through words. They are rather expressed through other channels like the tone of one’s voice, gestures and facial expressions. The art lies in interpreting these cues to understand the feelings of the other person. People adept at doing this have high EQ.

I know a gentleman; his empathetic feelings go back to his childhood. A classic example of how it manifests at a tender age. He was travelling with his father in a cycle rickshaw on a summer afternoon. After reaching their destination, the cycle rickshaw driver asked for an x amount. The father of this boy, a well off professional started haggling and insisted the driver was asking an unreasonable amount. The boy still remembers how he felt so bad for the driver. He thought the driver deserved every bit of the small amount that he was asking. After all he was putting in so much physical labour. He said, if he had the money that time, he would have just shelled out and given him. And till date this gentleman continues to be as empathetic as he was as a young boy. Speaks a lot about emotional intelligence and how it develops from childhood.

This small gesture bespeaks of an emotional skill – empathy, essential for the preservation of close relationships like marriage, friendship or a business deal. It develops in infants virtually from the time they are born. They get distressed on hearing other babies cry.

One can enhance one’s emotional intelligence at any time. But just as one needs to practice to excel at something, one has to work hard towards working on poor emotional patterns. It’s never too late to work on your emotions and develop a balanced emotional state. Emotional intelligence is an ongoing process. And we should all strive to consciously work towards attaining it. The art lies in being aware of one’s emotions, how to manage them under pressure, how to be motivated to change negative ones into positive ones and to be empathetic to others and understand them.

IQ is inborn but EQ can be cultivated…