Go Suck a Lemon

There are those who claim that the best indicator of higher-order intelligence is through the expression of art. There is growing support for the inclusion of athletic ability in our consideration of aptitude. Then there are those who would judge intelligence using factors such as nature, music, numbers and reasoning. Some believe there is such a thing as existential intelligence. (No one is talking about sexual performance aptitude, as far as I know.) Apparently, one can be people smart, body smart, word smart, self smart and picture smart.

The word intelligence is frequently used to describe school performance, the capacity to comprehend or to profit from classroom experiences. This type of intelligence is believed to be fixed, stable, unchanging over a lifetime. Some believe we are born with all the intellectual potential we will ever possess. There is, however, increasing discussion over the role desire and tenacity may have in improving intelligence. Can we increase our intelligence through diligence and hard work?

Because intelligence seems to be an arbitrary concept, made up of a number of unstable, evolving factors and ideas, most definitions seem, ultimately, to alienate someone.

Hovering over the fray of the definition of intelligence is the ever-confounding variable: self esteem. Because self-esteem plays such an important role in our mindset as a culture, we have even included this factor in our continued quest to fine tune our definition of intelligence, increasing its parameters and boundaries, improving the odds that everyone will, some day, be able to claim genius!

Like general intelligence, emotional intelligence is a mishmash of theories, concepts and ideas, even more elusive than the definition of general intelligence (or even self esteem).

The good thing about emotional intelligence is, unlike general intelligence, there is widespread belief that it is something that is likely within our control! It may be an adaptive mechanism. We may actually be born with immense potentials for adjusting, fiddling with and modulating our emotional range in order to ensure that we can cooperate and collaborate with one another to survive as species. After all, we have to get along, protect ourselves and others from predators and to mate.

To make certain that we can achieve all of these basic goals, we have to be able to adjust our personalities and accommodate ANY culture or subculture in which we encounter our own species.

Emotional intelligence is believed to be a self-perceived measure, far more flexible and far more under our own control than general intelligence. If you find that you’re losing friends, jobs and family members, a decision to do something else, to explore other emotional options, is very much in the realm of possibilities. Desire, effort and tenacity actually CAN play a role in improving emotional intelligence.

The fabric of your emotional life is an elaborate quilting of experiences. From the time of your birth, each square, each life experience, is stitched to the next to create the individual you are today. A keen awareness of your genetics and how your parents, relatives, friends and neighbors solved their own emotional issues, however successful, will often provide insight into the fabric from which your emotional intelligence is woven. How do you make judgments about the obstacles you face in your life? How do you overcome them? Each time you settle an emotional issue, are you choosing the quickest and most familiar option? Or do you put some effort into choosing from your emotional range?

You have built your current level of emotional intelligence through a series of personal observations, trials and errors, punishments and rewards. And each time you apply your unique emotional resolution to the same or similar emotional event, you add strength to it. The more you repeat your current behaviors, the stronger and more predictable they become. Doing away with harmful behaviors often takes the strength of a wrecking ball, making an improvement in your emotional intelligence time consuming and often difficult. The good news is: You can do it!

It will take the force of will, but you can do it.


12 responses

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