How high is your EQ?
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry. I didn’t either until recently.
EQ stands for emotional quotient, but is also known as emotional intelligence (EI). Similar to how natural intelligence is measured by the IQ, emotional intelligence is measured by the EQ.
Throughout my childhood and into my early twenties, I was prone to outbursts of anger and frustration, sadness and despair. Those aren’t uncommon feelings for children to exhibit because kids lack the maturity to handle the disappointment of not getting what they want.
But as you enter adulthood, you need to learn to manage your emotions better. And it was sometime in my mid-to-late twenties — not coincidentally when I began my serious walk with Jesus Christ — that I found emotional peace and contentment. Are all Christ-followers exempt from bouts with unhealthy emotion? Of course not. But faith helps.
I came across this article from Time.com titled “18 Behaviors of Emotionally Intelligent People,” and I was curious to see if I exhibited them. For the most part, I found similarities between the behaviors they were describing and what I feel I possess, because I do feel I have a good grasp on emotional intelligence.
But I am human; thus, I am imperfect and have work to do. Here are the 18 behaviors that they listed in the article, along with my analysis of where I stand for each of them. I encourage you to read the article and do a self-assessment for yourself, too.
- You have a robust emotional vocabulary
I feel that this is one of my strong points. I’m a big believer in semantics, that words have many different meanings. There a synonyms, sure, and quite a few words that share similar meanings. But they’re not exactly the same thing. Think about it: if multiple words had the same exact meaning, there would be no need to have that many. The article points out that someone who is capable of clearly expressing what is bothering them — i.e. not just saying they “feel bad” — then it’s easier to deal with the issue.
- You’re curious about people
The article describes the curiosity as one borne out of empathy. And as a Christian man, I try to exhibit empathy, but still knowing that there’s always room for improvement in that area. I think I’ve always had this burning desire — at least since adulthood — to try to understand people. For starters, I love stories, and every human ever conceived has a unique story. Secondly, I find human behavior and emotion fascinating, and that’s a core reason why I took up psychology — albeit briefly — in college.
- You embrace change
In a moment of clear transparency, I must admit that my first instinctive reaction to change is one of hesitation. It’s not that I dislike change, per se. It’s more a reflex than a feeling. When presented with a scenario that would cause some kind of change in my life, I want to first weigh the implications that will come from such change. Is it a big, life-altering change that will require a lot of work? Is it something small and trivial that won’t make me skip a beat? After thinking things through, I am more likely to accept change than what my initial reaction may portend.
- You know your strengths and weaknesses
I feel that I have an extremely good grasp on my strengths and weaknesses. I know what I’m good at, what comes naturally, what contributes to my success in life. I also know what I need a lot of work at, what challenges me, and what faults tend to hold me back. The article also speaks of people who “push [one’s] buttons,” and I certainly know which types of people those are.
- You’re a good judge of character
I’m confident in my ability to judge another’s character. Can I read them like a book? Not really. I’m not God. But I happen to have a ton of people in my life who have exceptional character, because I choose to surround myself with others who make good choices and live respectfully. As Proverbs 13:20 states: “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” And 1 Corinthians 15:33 says: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
- You are difficult to offend
This is an area where I need improvement. I care so deeply that I allow too much to offend my sensibilities. But typically it’s only those closest to me, like family and friends, who are able to offend me. There is little that any stranger or mere acquaintance could say to me to offend me, for their opinions do not define who I am. But if a loved one says something to me that may be true, however unpleasant, it’s often a difficult pill to swallow.
- You know how to say no (to yourself and others)
I’m a bit of people-pleaser, always wanting to make others happy in whatever way possible. Thus, saying no has not always been the easiest thing for me to do in that regard. However, the article refers to delayed gratification and avoiding impulsive actions, and that has long been a strength of mine. I rarely buy things for myself. I sometimes go years with the same clothes. I wear my shoes until the soles come off. That’s not always the smartest thing, but I know how to tell myself “no”, and I’m learning the right way to tell others no when it’s important for my health and sanity.
- You let go of mistakes
As a bit of a perfectionist, it’s a little bit harder to let mistakes go, but I’m improving. A mistake — especially an avoidable one — will initially bug me because mistakes are a cause of lost production and/or time. But I also firmly believe that mistakes offer the best opportunities to learn because of the negative stimulus that is generated from the incident. Therefore, I don’t let mistakes linger for too long, but there is an initial hurdle to clear.
- You give and expect nothing in return
I literally do not need anything more than the essentials of life. And my wants are few and far between. When asked by others what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I have a difficult time coming up with responses. Now, does this mean I would never care if I didn’t receive another gift the rest of my life? That’s easy to say in the moment, isn’t it? I have no idea how that would make me feel — gift giving is one of the Five Love Languages, after all, and it’s one way to feel loved by others. But I don’t need a gift in return just because I give one to others. A gift by definition is something that should be given without any kind of expectation of return. Otherwise, it’s known as a debt or a loan.
- You don’t hold grudges
Much like the mistakes (No. 8), grudges are a little bit of a challenge as well. It’s not that I will hold something over someone’s head forever and treat them differently because of it. But certain words or actions can stick in my memory for longer than I care them to be there, and that leaves me with occasional sadness or frustration. I try to use analytical reasoning in times like this, to let myself know that either something is incapable of being changed and thus should not be dwelt on, or worrying about something does not help solve it.
- You neutralize toxic people
I hate conflict. To a fault, actually, because some conflict is healthy, so I’ve learned. But this behavior that the article refers to has more to do with people who are excessively difficult and just aren’t on the same wavelength as you, as opposed to a loved one with whom you might have a disagreement. These “toxic” people I have no problems keeping at bay. I will not avoid them altogether, especially if they’re in my life for one reason or another — such as a coworker or neighbor or a friend of a friend. But I will certainly not let their negative thoughts and words become a drain on my emotion. I will also listen to them respectfully, and if I disagree, I can do it courteously.
- You don’t seek perfection
Boom. This is a big problem for a perfectionist. Even though I am acutely aware that there is no such thing as perfection, I have a hunger to do better and achieve something more. I develop websites for a living, and in such a creative field where most projects are open to subjective evaluation, I have a hard time accepting my work as “good enough.” As a result of this, I often repeat my work, doing things over and over again until I feel they are satisfactory. Admittedly, this is not the most effective use of my time and my production could be better by setting expectations that aren’t anywhere near perfection.
- You appreciate what you have
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” -1 Timothy 6:6-8. The Bible speaks of the need for contentment, and it’s an area that I’ve mastered, quite honestly. When I sit back and think about the desires in my life, little to none have to do with material possessions. Do I have dreams and goals like anyone else? Sure. But I also know that if I don’t achieve these things, or accumulate certain possessions that would be fun and enjoyable, that my life would turn out just great by the grace of God.
- You disconnect
Often when people think about “disconnecting”, their initial thought is about cell phones and social media. That’s just a product of the society we live in today. But that’s just one aspect of disconnecting. To disconnect also means to ease the burdens in your life, to remove or lessen the stressors that can weigh heavily on you, and to take vacations and small breaks from normal rigors of the everyday world. And it’s in these areas that I excel at disconnecting.
- You limit your caffeine intake
Yikes! Talk about one of the most challenging behaviors on the list! I have regularly consumed caffeine for years — to the point where it’s caused gastric issues that I’ve had to monitor and regulate. But I must say, I don’t completely agree with the premise in this article. The article states that caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, causing the “fight-or-flight” response. And:“The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email.” That’s a bit too simplistic. To say that a person who is on a caffeine hike can’t rationally respond to a curt email is a bit of a stretch. I’m not a person who shoots from the hip. I think things through and don’t respond on pure emotion. Whether my adrenaline is pumping or not, I’m going to put careful thought into what I say or do. In fact, I’m more likely to have a brain that works when it isn’t dog tired and lacking adrenaline.
- You get enough sleep
I have a difficult time sleeping. No, I’m not an insomniac, and I probably get more sleep than most who have “sleeping issues.” But I’m both a bit of a night owl and a person who can’t really sleep in. Somewhere between six or seven hours is considered a good night for me, and I seem to be able to function well on that … especially if paired with an influx of caffeine in the morning! (see No. 15!)
- You stop negative self-talk in its tracks
I don’t like to be a pessimist. In fact, my glass is generally half-full. But I’ve been told I have a tendency to “talk down” about myself at times. That’s difficult to hear because that’s certainly not my intent. I’m a person who knows his strengths and weaknesses (see No. 4), plus I try my best to be humble and admit my faults. But I guess there is a fine line between admitting your weaknesses and talking down about yourself. Maybe it’s an art form I need to practice more? In general though, I don’t sit around and dwell on negative things. Life is too short and is filled with too many blessings to be upset all the time. I’m generally happy-go-lucky.
- You won’t let anyone limit your joy
I don’t need the approval of others to be happy in life. Do I like to make others happy? Of course. It’s a good feeling. But if I’m surrounded by Debbie Downers, rather than let them rub off on me, I’m just going to leave the room. If somebody has a negative opinion of me, I’m not going to let that bring me down. Like I mentioned in No. 6 about being offended, if a loved one is upset at me and says something that may not be pleasing to the ears, it’s going to initially bother me. But I’m not going to let it bother me to the point I live my life in sadness and despair. I’m going to want to work it out so the joy can return.
As you can see, there are areas where improvement can be made in almost any behavior, even in something you feel may be a strength of yours. I encourage you to read the article on emotional intelligence and see how you fare in each of the examples.
Eating a balanced diet and staying in good shape has become such a problem in our society, but if you follow some easy, healthy eating guidelines, it doesn’t have to be a complicated chore.
Fast food, sugary drinks, and salty snacks are some of the worst offenders of healthy eating in our culture. They’re convenient, tasty, and easy to consume. But they also fail to fill you up and provide you with the proper nutrition your body needs.
I’ve long had a problem with eating enough vegetables in my diet. And even though I enjoy fruit, I can’t ever seem to incorporate enough into my daily meals. But healthy eating goes beyond just having enough fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet is something they taught you in grade school, back when life was much simpler than when you became an adult and the real world grabbed a hold of you. Now, our society is constantly rushing and we pay little attention to what we put in our bodies.
So, what healthy eating guidelines can we follow to keep us in good health?
- Drink more water
Drinking water is one of the easiest, most basic guidelines you can follow for good health, and yet it’s one of our biggest problems. Whether we fill our bodies with coffee, soda, juice or other sugary drinks, or we just neglect to keep some water with us throughout the day, we’re not consuming enough water. I like to keep a 24-ounce water bottle with me and make sure I refill it four times a day. Also, try drinking a full glass of water before you eat. It’ll fill you up and help stop you from overeating.
- Power of protein
When I feel my belt getting a little tighter around the waist, the first idea that comes to mind is focusing on the power of protein. Protein is a good source for building muscle, but it also fills you up much quicker than fats and carbs. Whereas too many carbs can make you feel sluggish, eating the right amount of protein can leave you feeling satisfied and still have energy, all the while stopping you from stuffing yourself. Eat a protein bar for a mid-afternoon snack and you’ll notice its effects for a few hours.
- Cut down carbs
One of the most popular methods of dieting and improving your overall health is to limit your carbohydrate intake. Too many carbs in your diet leave your body overwhelmed and unable to burn them off, and then your body stores it as fat. You don’t have to go all gung-ho and completely cut out carbs — in fact, you’re destined to fail that way as you likely will be left cranky and looking for the first candy bar you can get your hands on. But simply switching out a few carb-heavy foods in your diet for some lighter ones will certainly help.
- Stop the snacking
Snacking is one of the biggest problems we face because most of us don’t snack on healthy foods. What happens is we think we feel hungry and want some kind of comfort food to fill our bellies, but then we wind up eating way more of that snack than we should and we “spoil our appetite.” Sometimes when we snack, we take in as many — if not more — calories as a normal meal, and yet we still fully eat our next meal. If you get hungry in between meals, try drinking a glass of water instead. Or, if you absolutely must have a snack, grab one of those 100-calorie packs and eat it very slowly.
- Pay attention to portion sizes
Ask any expert why America has an obesity problem, and portion sizes would be one of the top responses you get. We probably eat one and a half to two times the portion sizes we should at any given meal. Our bodies cannot handle the extra food and it doesn’t burn it off, especially if we live a sedentary lifestyle. You’ve probably heard this tip before, but you should really heed its advice: eat off smaller plates and don’t go back for seconds.
- Be in tune with your body
Much of our eating problems could be solved by paying more attention to our bodies. We eat out of boredom, we eat when we’re sad or depressed, and we eat because it tastes good. All of these are bad ideas. Food should not be a hobby; instead, it should be treated like gasoline for our cars. We mostly fill up our cars when we’re on empty, right? And if we do happen to fill up before we’re empty, we don’t pour a full tank in, right? Because adding a full tank’s worth when we already have half a tank would cause an overflow. Similarly, eating too much when we’re not really “on empty” causes storage of fat. Often when we think we have hunger pangs, it’s really just our mind playing tricks on us.
- Eat slower and chew more thoroughly
Eating too fast has always been one of my biggest problems in the food arena. I see food on my plate and I just want to scarf it down and leave the dinner table. But when you eat too fast, not only are you susceptible to overeating, but your body doesn’t have time to digest or process it all. And swallowing food that hasn’t been thoroughly chewed can lead to digestive disorders. Eat slower and I promise you that you will feel fuller and likely will eat less.
- Make breakfast the most important meal of the day
Everybody knows the common expression that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Do you know why they say that? Because it’s true. Not only will a hearty breakfast give your brain a burst to start the day right, but it’s also been said that our metabolism slows down during the day. Translation: we should eat our biggest meal in the morning and our smallest in the evening, but we often do the opposite of that and save the big meal for dinner. Then we overeat and go to bed with full stomachs that we cannot digest.
- Have a later lunch
This one is a personal favorite of mine. I probably eat lunch later than most people do. If you eat a big enough breakfast, you can probably make it until one or two o’clock in the afternoon for lunch. And by eating a late lunch, you’re not as hungry for dinner, thus are less likely to overeat at dinner.
- Don’t eat within three hours of bedtime
As previously mentioned, if our metabolism does indeed slow down as the day wears on, eating something late and going to bed with a full belly is just asking for trouble. Digestion becomes a difficult task and you’ll wake up feeling sluggish and in worse shape than the night before. Conversely, not eating three hours before bedtime will leave you feeling hungry, yet slimmer in the morning. Try eating your last bit of food three hours before bedtime, and make sure it’s enough food that will eliminate any temptation for a late-night snack.
- Eat socially
As I noted earlier, eating slower is a crucial guideline to healthy eating. One way to slow down is to eat with others, rather than by yourself. If you eat alone, there’s no incentive to stop shoveling food in your mouth. But when others are around, not only will you want to exhibit good manners and not look like a pig, but you’ll also stop to talk in between bites. (Just don’t talk with your mouth full … please.)
- Keep track of your foods
For the more diligent out there, getting in the habit of recording what you eat will help you realize just how many calories you are consuming and you can better plan and budget your food intake throughout the day. In the old days, you had to put pen to paper and record a journal, which obviously was a tedious chore and not very convenient. But we live in a digital world and you can download an app to your smartphone to help you keep track of what you eat. I use MyFitnessPal, which has an easy scanning device to scan barcodes and it gives you the nutritional facts of different foods, making it easy to log your running total.