How To Use Emotional Intelligence To Hack Your Entire Life

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The way you think governs the way you live.

The way you think about your feelings governs how well you live.

Human beings are hardwired with internal navigation systems: a brain and body that connect and correlate and send signals and sensations and feelings that are silent messengers offering important information.

The trouble comes when we don’t know how to decipher those messages, or the system goes into overdrive and we don’t know how to fix it.

Emotional intelligence helps because it changes the way you think about how you feel. It redefines “emotions,” it changes how you interpret the world, and ultimately, clears your mind and improves your quality of life.

Here are some answers to the biggest EI questions in your life:

“By definition, victims are always innocent: They’re at the receiving end of someone else’s misconduct. So whether directly or indirectly, in getting angry you’re getting back at them through emphatically giving yourself the self-aggrandizing message that you’re above them. What they said or did, you wouldn’t have done. In short, you’re better than they are.”

“Our brains are designed to worry, and they’re good at it. They’re built to determine the next big thing to “fix.” This is a great thing. It’s a cognitive feature that has led us to evolve the way we have. We’ve developed every major industry (agriculture, medicine, religion) out of some kind of fear: death, disorder, starvation, meaninglessness. The part of the brain that controls rumination also controls creativity. There’s no coincidence in this.”

“You are constantly trying to coach or “fix” the friend or family member with whom you have a poor relationship. You are constantly harping on why their behavior is unacceptable, but at the same time you don’t remove yourself from your relationship with them.”

“The way you are self-sabotaging: Going back to the same person who broke you. What your subconscious mind wants you to know: Evaluate your childhood relationships. If you find something comforting or appealing about someone who hurts you, there’s usually a reason.”

“The overall idea each of these principles (and every great psychology book I’ve ever read) boils down to this: All happily married couples exhibit best friend behavior.”

“Determine what you value, so you can then figure out what you don’t. Maybe you absolutely love getting to go out with your friends on a Friday night, and aren’t realistically going to want to dwindle your drink budget. Maybe you value having a hefty savings account, or ensuring that your monthly expenses are well below your income. Whatever it is, figure out what you do and don’t care about, so you can start making your money reflect that.”

“Here’s the good news: There might be a sweet spot when it comes to the amount of time you spend on social media. Keeping your use down to just 30 minutes a day can lead to better mental health outcomes, according to research being published in December in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.”

“Cut your to-do list in half. Getting things done during your workday shouldn’t mean fitting in doing as much as possible in the sanctioned eight hours. Do you really need those 30 tasks on your to-do list? Take a less-is-more approach to your to-do list by only focusing on accomplishing things that matter.”

Challenging yourself about your judgmental nature. Having a judgmental nature is the single most significant thing that impacts on self esteem in a negative way. If you judge others you perceive that others are judging you, and depending on how harsh a judge you are, you will expect others to judge you.

“Ask yourself, ‘How could it have been worse?’ An ‘upward counterfactual’ is great for learning but over time it’s what creates that nagging ache of regret. This is where we need what researchers call a ‘downward counterfactual.’ Ask ‘How could things have been worse?’”

“If you want small talk to be more interesting, the surest route is to be more interested in your conversation partner. ‘If you are running out of things to say, you are not interested enough in the person you are talking with,’ insists angel investor Kai Peter Chang in the thread’s most popular answer.”

“It can feel so tempting to chitchat around the proverbial water cooler about how awful that certain co-worker is. Many people try to use snarky gossip as a way to bond with their co-workers, earning their laughter and what they think is their respect. But engaging in that kind of behavior only makes you seem like an insensitive bully.”

“Do continue visiting and calling after a month or two. Everybody abandons you after that. Everything stops when the numbness and shock wear off and there you are, in your life, but not. The calls and visits and efforts from friends at that point were incredibly helpful and welcome.”

“People who struggle with their emotional health tend to liken themselves to oracles: after so many years of being instructed to trust themselves and validate how they feel, they begin to believe what they fear is real. They validate so much that spiraling thoughts become irrational fears and pangs of anxiety become paralyzing hopelessness.”

“Sometimes the novel is not ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can make your masterpiece into something that will feel real and true and raw to other people. Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, one day, it will be the opus upon which you build your life.”

“Political discussions are, generally speaking, not good dinner table conversations. Besides the obvious risk of conflict, some at the table may be uninterested in politics. Also, such discussions frequently are dominated by one or two persons, and that’s not much fun for the others. The combination of food and political conversation can be immensely enjoyable when those present share basic beliefs, or when everyone present has the ability to enjoy a spirited debate without getting emotional. Often neither is the case.”

“According to the mere-exposure effect, people tend to like other people who are familiar to them. In one example of this phenomenon, psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh had four women pose as students in a university psychology class. Each woman showed up in class a different number of times. When experimenters showed male students pictures of the four women, the men demonstrated a greater affinity for those women they’d seen more often in class — even though they hadn’t interacted with any of them.”

“You only lost something you never had. If he wanted to be with you, he would be with you. All that you lost was an idea you had about what one version of your future might have been. You have time and energy to focus on selfish pursuits that will improve your quality of life for decades to come.”

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