Everyone wants to live a blissful life and we express emotions that are intended to the accomplishment of a happy and prosperous life. Yet our built-in emotional and habitual system is not perfect. The function of emotional experience in getting one’s highest aspirations needs to be modified, guided, and supplemented by higher order knowledge, skills, and objectives.
However, emotional intelligence has been conceptualized in a number of ways and its most basic definition describes it to be a set of aptitudes and capabilities including the ability to perceive, utilize, understand, and deal with emotions. As twenty years of research suggest, these capabilities can help intentionally exploit the innate functionality of emotions thereby achieving a more flourishing and satisfying life. (2008, a study conducted by Roberts and Mayer).
Let’s take an example of a case study. Here’s a girl Sara who has been on a job for past year and she was quite satisfied with her work environment and salary. She worked in a pleasant and passionate manner. Over past two months, however, her mood has significantly changed more pessimistic and she seems depressive for most part of the day. Most people would believe that this negative mood should be alarming and if the reaction is prolonged, Sara might conclude that she is no more satisfied with her work. This conclusion may prompt numerous actions including finding a better job, arguing with co-workers, or going for a career counseling session to improve her performance at work. But before making conclusions, it is good to take into account a more emotionally intelligent reaction.
The primary step of this procedure, long before Sara reviews and decides that she is dissatisfied with her job, is for Sara to recognize her feelings accurately. Luckily, Sara’s emotional perception capability is very fine tuned and, before than just feeling negative emotions or disappointment, she perceives at the most basic level, an emotion of anger. Once Sara truly perceives herself to be angry, she can realize her capability to recognize emotion. While most people would recognize anger to mean that, say, her employer and the people around her, are incompetent. Whereas, Sara is more emotionally intelligent since she understands that the purpose of her negative emotions is really quite simple: it means that she is being hindered from reaching an important goal.
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Because Sara is able to know and distinguish the more basic motivational point of the emotion of anger, she can think about potential goals that she has construed – either intentionally or unintentionally – in the area of work. She understands that there are quite a lot of goals that are currently being hindered, including her goal to earn more (she is just told that incentives would be reduced to 50% this year), and her aim to work optimally so that she can impress her employer with her performance (the project is postponed, her colleague has been on leave, and she couldn’t plan a meeting with her boss). Sara realizes that her negative emotions actually indicate that she is worried about her good performance at work, not that she finds something objectionable about it. And that she is disturbed because of her co-worker because the project is delayed and she has the feeling of not being able to perform at her best, not because her co-worker is very lazy. Emotional intelligence can range from the very basic to very complex and luckily for Sara, her understanding of emotions is very good. She not just realizes the basic function of the emotion of anger, but she also understands that if she didn’t do anything to offset her negative emotions, it is likely to make her sad and frustrated, in the end leading her to sacrifice her goal of doing well at job.
Sara also understands that she can utilize her feelings of anger in the most adaptive manner because she is aware of it. Sara does so by availing the endorphin release from her negative emotions to stimulate her performance at work, and she uses her pointed awareness to help her think more decisively about impending problems and achievable solutions.
As the case study of Sara superbly illustrates emotions are intrinsically designed to help us achieve targets and fulfill our desires. And emotional intelligence is a set of skills and abilities that facilitates the whole process of living and eventually makes us happier. Emotional intelligence is also associated with a range of positive outcomes that can help the process of living a social, productive, and prosperous life.