As humans, we live in two worlds simultaneously. One world is the outer world that we daily occupy: activities of work and family, conversations with a friend or coworker, dropping off and picking up kids from soccer practice, grocery shopping, doing a load of laundry, paying the bills, meeting a project deadline at the office, mowing the grass, dealing with a misunderstanding with your spouse, or caring for elderly parents. This exterior world is what we most often describe as “our life.” However, in reality, there is so much more!
The “so much more” is the interior world of our thoughts and emotions. It is the realm of feelings: those mysteriously elusive, super-charged particles of soul matter. While we are engaging in our exterior life, inwardly an entire other world is being experienced and lived out—a world in which rich coats of texture and color are being applied to the events of our day. The results can yield a polished, brightly colored and appealing finish or a rough, dull, darkly colored and unappealing patina. In either case, this inner world exerts incredible influence over how we perceive our lives, ourselves, and others.
While every dimension of life is important, it would be hard to argue with the assertion that the emotional dimension is most crucial in determining individual happiness and health. Emotional health, it can be argued, is foundational for creating a life of deep satisfaction and purpose. Over the past two decades there has been increasing attention given to the concept of emotional intelligence. Studies have shown that one of the primary predictors of an individual’s ability to achieve long lasting success and satisfaction in life is a high emotional IQ.
Emotional intelligence is characterized by:
- Self-awareness: Knowing what I feel in any given situation and why I am feeling this way.
- Self-management: Recognizing that my emotions at times will be consistent with reality and at other times will not. In order to have good and healthy relationships I need to know the difference.
- Empathy: Moving beyond myself and identifying with others: their joys, fears, pain and longings.
- Strong relational skills: Putting self-awareness, self-management and empathy into practice as I interact with others by listening and responding constructively.
I encourage you today to live fully connected to both your interior and exterior life. Commit to explore and discover your core feelings; recognize their importance. Take your “emotional pulse” daily and make it a point to communicate life-giving empathy whenever possible. Raise your emotional IQ and experience deep transformational change in all the dimensions of your life!