Want a new way to improve your health and happiness? Try focusing on skills related to emotional intelligence. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence have better health and happiness than those who have lower levels of emotional intelligence.
Keep reading for what it really means to have emotional intelligence and how this can improve your life.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.”
Emotional intelligence includes emotion-related self-perception and proficiency in perceiving, understanding, using, and managing emotion. This means that people with emotional intelligence have skills in the areas of understanding themselves including why and how they feel and act, having the ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions, and showing acceptable behaviors despite experiencing various emotions.
Emotional intelligence and health: a research study
Higher emotional intelligence abilities lead to better health. In a study of emotional intelligence and health behaviors, the researchers looked at emotional intelligence through four specific areas.
4 Areas of Emotional Intelligence
- Using personal positive emotional experience (optimism)
- Expression of emotion (appraisal)
- Understanding and analysis of emotion (social skills)
- Utilization of emotion (Utilization)
In the study mentioned above, the researchers also looked at health behaviors through four specific areas.
4 Areas of Health Behaviors
- Wellness Maintenance and Enhancement (e.g.: “I exercise to stay healthy.”)
- Accident Control (e.g.: “I fix broken things around my home straight away.”)
- Traffic Risk Taking (e.g.: “I drive after drinking.”)
- Substance Risk Taking (e.g.: “I do not drink.”)
In this study, gender was also taken into consideration to identify whether being female or male influences health behaviors and emotional intelligence.
The Findings: What traits influence health behaviors?
The researchers found some interesting results. Specific emotional intelligence skills can predict certain health behaviors.
This could mean that depending on how strong a person is in certain areas of emotional skills, they could be more or less likely to have healthy behaviors. So, emotional intelligence can impact how healthy they are.
Overall, men engaged in more risk-taking behaviors (which could compromise their health) than women did in the study.
High emotional intelligence can lead to better health, specifically in the area of maintaining health habits (Wellness Maintenance and Enhancement), accident control, traffic safety, and refraining from substance use.
It is important to note that the results of the study show that having higher emotional intelligence as a woman has more influence over one’s health than the same level of emotional intelligence as a man.
All emotional intelligence areas (except social skills) contribute to substance risk taking behaviors. Lower emotional intelligence leads to worsening health.
Caregivers and educators could help improve emotional intelligence, specifically in the areas of using positive emotional experience (optimism), expression of emotion (appraisal), understanding and analysis of emotion (social skills), and utilization of emotion (utilization) in order to improve health among children, adults, and students.
Health consciousness leads to higher emotional intelligence
People with stronger emotional intelligence are likely to have better intuition. Individuals who have healthier behaviors also tend to have higher levels of emotional intelligence compared to those who have more unhealthy behaviors.
Health consciousness seems to be a factor in why emotional intelligence and healthy behaviors are related. Specifically, people with low emotional intelligence levels seem to have less health consciousness leading to more unhealthy behaviors.
Health consciousness refers to how aware someone is of their own health. For instance, if someone is highly health conscious, they would think about their health often and they would be aware of things that can impact their health in positive and negative ways.
Higher emotional intelligence leads to higher health consciousness which leads to better health.
Find happiness & success with emotional intelligence
“When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ).”1
Emotional intelligence helps one’s personal experience of life as well as their social relationships with friends, family, spouses, acquaintances, and even strangers.
Emotional cognizance can allow you to make better choices including making decisions that will contribute to your own happiness and success. By being able to evaluate your own and others’ emotions, you can figure out how to improve your own happiness, well-being, and reach your life goals.
Regions of the brain responsible for impacting emotional experience
The brain’s amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are the key regions that impact emotional experiences.
Some of the ways that you can find happiness and greater success in life through the use of strong emotional aptitude include:
- Acknowledging your own feelings.
- Accepting your personal emotions.
- Controlling your own emotions and how you express those emotions.
- You have a higher awareness of yourself.
- You are better at understanding other people.
- You have a better ability to coexist with others.
- You are able to show greater cooperation with others. Working together, being considerate of others, and problem-solving all contribute to greater success in the workplace, relationships, at home, and in the community.
- You are better able to control your impulses.
- You can insist on things that you believe in while doing so in a respectful and considerate manner.
- You are able to persevere through challenges.
- You have more hope.
- You have greater empathy for others, an essential skill in being able to have healthy relationships and interactions with others.
- You have a stronger ability to cope with stress.
- You have greater attention.
- Your memory is stronger than those with lower EI.
- You have greater emotional regulation skills.
- You have stronger reasoning and decision-making skills.
As you can see with the examples of the benefits of having stronger emotional intelligence, higher emotional intelligence can create a greater world as well as benefit each individual person.
People with high emotional intelligence are successful in managing stressful situations by being able to self-regulate, assess the situation, react appropriately, and use healthy coping and relationship skills.
PYRAMID OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
With the pyramid of emotional intelligence, a person can improve their own self-development including becoming better at self-regulation, self-organization, awareness, consciousness, attention, and motivation. You may also be able to achieve the benefits listed in the previous section by improving emotional intelligence and moving up the pyramid of EI.
The layers of the pyramid of emotional intelligence from the lowest to the highest levels are:
- Emotional stimuli
- Information that is taken in from the environment which is then categorized by the brain then leading to the development of emotions
- Emotion recognition, perception-expression of emotions.
- Being able to recognize and understand the emotions of others including being able to decode non-verbal and gestural representations of emotions (like being able to understand facial expressions and body language).
- Being aware of who you are including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motives, etc. Self-awareness allows you to have the ability to change your thoughts which can change your emotions and your actions.
- You are able to control your reactions to emotional situations.
- Social-awareness, empathy, discrimination of emotions
- You are able to recognize and understand the emotions of others while also being empathetic toward their experiences.
- Social skills, expertise in emotions
- You are able to effectively manage social interactions. You have healthy relationship skills.
- Universality of emotions, self-actualization
- The realization of personal potential, self-fulfillment, personal development, and peak experiences.
- The level in which you are able to help others work toward and reach self-actualization.
- Emotional Unity
- Internal harmony. Feelings of intense joy, peace, prosperity, and awareness of the ultimate truth. Being positive and optimistic. Having love for yourself and all other living things.
In summary, the emotional intelligence pyramid describes the path to which people develop emotional intelligence. Essentially, something triggers an emotional reaction, the brain processes how this will be viewed and what emotions are to be used, the person learns about their emotions, and then learns to manage their emotions and behaviors. Next, a person learns about others’ emotions and develops social skills. Then the person continues a path of personal development and then helps others. Lastly, the highest level of emotional intelligence involves a strong sense of being at peace and connecting with others.
Utilizing emotional intelligence to improve your health and happiness
Science has shown that the stronger your emotional intelligence, the better your health and happiness will be. You can always work on developing emotional intelligence and therefore you can continue to improve your life with this approach.
- EQ (Emotional Intelligence) quote reference:http://www.wearelifeology.com/services/eq/
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry , join her Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health, and find more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.