Intelligence and Spirituality: The Difference Between Two Creative Sources of Knowledge
The term spirituality is synonymous with bliss while emotion evokes our current mood or feelings.
While spirituality is considered the embodiment of peace, emotional intelligence is required to socialize and spread positivity.
Yet both sources of knowledge are considered a necessity for humans to lead a harmonious life.
Today we discuss the different paths that each of these knowledge groups leads us to and how they affect the human mind individually.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SPIRITUALITY AT A GLANCE
Both, emotional intelligence and spiritual knowledge are necessary to achieve our daily goals while impacting our lives in a positive and meaningful way.
Lacking either of the knowledge sources can be detrimental to our well-being.
Let’s understand what each of these wisdom sources offers us and why it’s critical to develop them.
Emotional Intelligence and Its Basic Definition
In psychological terms, emotional intelligence is defined as a personal ability for humans to control their emotions and perceive the emotions of others.
In simple terms, emotional intelligence is the measurement of our behavior.
Every human being possesses emotional intelligence, unlike beasts and birds. We immediately understand when someone is in pain and we offer to empathize with them.
We have deep meaningful conversations with family and friends.
The emotional bond between humans where we display a range of emotions is effectively what emotional intelligence is all about.
Is Intelligence Quotient the Same as Emotional Intelligence?
While Intelligence quotient (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are the subgroups of Intelligence, both are vastly different from each other. IQ is about cognitive behavior. Humans use this ability to measure their own grade of intelligence or how smart one human is from the other.
You’ve probably come across the term – IQ test.
An IQ test is where an individual answers a list of questions set by an academic or noted private institution to measure the problem-solving skill set of an individual along with other cognitive functions.
IQ is calculated in numbers. For example – An IQ score of 70 and below is considered awful. The average IQ score is set at 100 while a score over 135 is considered as highly intellectual and a score over 150 is considered genius-level which make up for a small percentage of the entire human population.
While emotional intelligence affects our problem-solving skills and cognitive behavior, it doesn’t directly measure an individual’s intellectual level.
Which is to say that if a person is angry, he or she is not likely to solve a problem as their sanity levels aren’t within the normal range to perform reasonable decisions.
But if the individual were to calm down and return to their normal state, they’ll be in a better position to solve problems.
That’s why emotional intelligence is a poor way to measure someone’s intelligence as it’s related to a range of varying emotions.
Spirituality has many names – sacred, artistic, transcendent, and medieval.
Spirituality is an experience of our mental self when we seek answers to questions that we don’t understand in the physical realm.
While spirituality was born from the concept of religion, the two are much broader than most people relate them to be.
Contrary to popular opinion, spirituality isn’t a prayer or any form of religious worship that requires the use of sacred mantras. Spirituality is simply an ability to reach deep into our mental stream of consciousness and repair the damage and negativity acquired through the journey of life.
Spirituality has been defined in various ways by leading experts of the topic. Let’s look at a few.
Christina describes spirituality as a way for humans to express themselves and to experience the state of connectedness between themselves and the nature surrounding them.
Chieh describes spirituality as having an extra pair of eyes for the mind. While our physical eyes have a wide-angle view of the things happening in front of us, the spiritual eyes observe intangible events and deconstruct life experiences into meaningful awareness. In the spiritual dimension, human beings process information much quicker than in the physical dimension, he concludes.
Oprah claims spirituality has been a major part of her life right from her tough beginnings to her current point in life. She describes spirituality as a completely different role from religion.
She states that while religion offers her the touch of divinity, spirituality offers her a connection to mental peace.
With varying definitions from various sources, it’s conclusive that spirituality doesn’t have a single true definition but is defined individually by the experience of every person.
Some define spirituality as unity, others associate it with peace, while still others give credit to spirituality for demonstrating clarity in decision making.
One aspect we can all agree upon is that spirituality is a necessity to achieving a positive stream of inner knowledge that we don’t gain through communicating with people.
THE BENEFITS OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE ON THE HUMAN MIND
What came over me to make such an unwise decision that cost me my entire life savings?
Did I just lash out at my spouse when all she did was think of my well-being?
What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have said that to him, I barely know him.
If these scenarios seem familiar to you, blame it on your emotional intelligence.
After all, emotions are a part of our daily life and the way we utilize them depict whether we’ve made good or bad decisions. Emotional intelligence is directly responsible for how self-aware we are and what our intent is towards others.
When our emotions cave in due to a triggered response, we either scream at others or break down crying.
This is called a nervous breakdown.
Society views us as a threat when we can’t keep our emotions in check.
However, there are various benefits when we develop emotional intelligence to influence us in the right way. Let’s list down a few.
1. Impressive Social Skills
What is the worth of human life if we can’t socialize effectively?
How effectively we socialize is directly responsible for the way we use our emotions. Building our interpersonal relationships is an extremely critical aspect of our careers as well as our personal lives.
When we are in control of our emotions, we immediately express them the way we want to.
This avoids embarrassing situations where we hurl insults at others or call them names and later regret our actions.
Take for example some of the biggest CEOs from around the world like – Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, etc.
Have you ever heard or seen them behave out of order during public interviews or conduct themselves in an inappropriate manner in their workplace?
That’s where emotional intelligence comes in.
Leaders have their emotions in check even when they are put in an uncomfortable situation. They have trained themselves to never fall prey to negative attitudes. An emotionally intelligent individual is impossible to falter.
2. Handle Tough Situations
A tough situation is identified as any of the following examples
- Addressing a crowd of over 10,000 people for the first time
- Hosting a business presentation with foreign delegates to land the deal of a lifetime
- Sitting with other candidates in a job interview room
- Writing a test paper in an examination hall
With emotions playing a key role and nervousness building up in such scenarios, it sums up to how emotionally intelligent we are.
After all, it’s the survival of the fittest out in the real world. The ones with their emotions in check always make it through the success ladder while the ones who surrender to their emotions, experience a collapse in their careers.
Take for example – A customer call center executive who is on a call with a tough customer. Minutes after the call ends, the employee is upset and breaks down in a pool of tears. If a senior manager hears of the incident, they will never be considered for a promotion to achieve far greater success.
That’s why emotional intelligence is so important in building toughness. It helps build trust among your peers and family when you’re in tune with your feelings.
3. Dealing with Change
Human beings generally dislike change – whether in their workplace or homes. When a change is introduced, we feel like a part of us has just died and new things have replaced it.
That’s why the decision of changing jobs is frustrating. We work in the same office environment, see the same familiar faces for years and things are accustomed to us.
We create a habitat for ourselves and feel comfortable with the daily program intended for us.
But change often upgrades our lives for a better living. A new job offers an attractive salary, an elevation in the job role and an improvement to our work-life balance.
The question is – Are you ready to sacrifice your daily routine for an unpredictable life in the future?
To deal with this, emotional intelligence is an essential part of our lives.
Change is dealt with emotions and the way we react to situations either advances our life in a positive way or we are left with the same uninteresting and boring side of things to do every day.
TIPS TO KEEP OUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK
We’ve understood the importance of emotions in the role of our daily life.
But how do we kickstart this aspect in motion?
Here is a 6-point checklist that helps you put your right foot forward and deal with your emotions in an optimistic manner.
- When you feel angry or agitated, begin counting to 20 in your mind. This gives you time to analyze your thoughts and make a meaningful decision instead of a hasty one.
- Don’t react to rude and obnoxious people. Their words don’t affect your life in any profound way.
- Accept your blame if your boss gives you a mouthful. Before leaving, give your best smile to ensure that you’ve taken their feedback into account in a positive manner.
- If you’re dealing with a livid customer on call, follow work protocols and hang up after trying to reason with them.
- If a loved one says something hurtful, always open your thoughts and discuss it. Never bubble up your emotions. Implosive anger is extremely dangerous to your mental state.
- Avoid circumstances that trigger your feelings. If you’ve been invited to a party and you don’t feel mentally sound. Politely refuse and thank them for the invite.
THE BENEFITS OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICE ON THE HUMAN MIND
A human brain is a place of complex ideas and it’s the birth of creativity.
There have been many intelligent beings from around the world that have tried to break down and provide a simplistic answer to the power of the mind.
While there have been many conclusive studies on how much brain activity is used by an average human brain, the results are varying and aren’t set in stone.
However, a breakthrough study from Columbia University has found that people that practiced spirituality had thicker cerebral cortices. This is the part of the brain that is linked with processing emotions and sensory perception.
The study found that people with a strong link to spirituality enjoyed a 90% decrease in depression and were generally happier than their non-spiritual counterparts.
Spirituality is constantly being studied in the field of neuroscience and many mental institutes recommend spiritual practices to treat the patients from various mental disorders such as – anxiety issues, stress-related disorders, and depression.
To understand the various benefits of spirituality, let’s read below.
With every passing day, spirituality becomes increasingly important to practice into our daily lives. When difficult situations arise in our lives, we start to give up and isolate ourselves from the world. Spirituality acts as a barrier to such painful experiences.
Think of it as a seatbelt in a moving car that prevents you from taking the brunt of the damage during a life-changing event.
Here are some of the positive effects of spirituality that one can achieve by practicing it every day.
1. Lower Depression
If we must define depression in three words, it would be – ‘Loss of Hope’
When we lose hope, even the shortest goal in life seems incredibly long. In fact, when we experience hopelessness, we aren’t truly living, and our bodies have no sense of savoring life’s glorious experiences.
Spirituality is often the only cure for a broken spirit, to make it whole again. Leading a spiritual life opens our inner positivity and we begin to understand just how useful we are to the world.
A study by Dr. Afolake Mobolaji has shown that spirituality was a huge factor in curing depression in patients suffering from moderate to acute depression.
The patients who recovered solved complex problems that they previously couldn’t. Their overall social interactions improved, and they were able to set daily goals to accomplish.
Spirituality through mindfulness meditation provides us with self-awareness and we begin to accept everything in our life without blaming others. We stop living in anxiety over the future or because of our past and start living in the present.
When we find our true purpose, we stop being depressed and begin to fulfill our goals. Spirituality connects us to our true purpose.
2. Control Over Emotions
Did you know that within our brain exists a limbic system located in the cortex?
This limbic system is critical for shaping our social interactions because it has control over how our emotions are processed and felt. The limbic system is made up of –
Now if all that seems too ‘scholarly’ for you. Let’s elaborate it in short – A part of our brain is responsible for how we emote ourselves in public.
Every time a circumstance in our life occurs, our brains send signals to deal with the condition through emotions.
If you’ve ever been angry at someone or fallen in love with someone, blame it on the workings of your brain.
Sometimes, when your pain is too intense or when you’re stressed, the brain is unable to control these emotions and you lose control over your emotions. Here are instances where this trigger manifests –
- Lash out at someone when you’re incredibly angry
- Pick a fight with your neighbor for playing their music too loud
- Feeling extremely depressed when we break up with our loved one
- Experiencing unspeakable grief through the loss of a loved one
Acts such as the above bring out our emotions and we are left with a trail of destruction to deal with once the demolition spree is over.
Spirituality offers a remote control to regulate your feelings. Instead of losing control over your emotions during a traumatic event, you calm down and think of the situation and act accordingly.
There’s no way to shut off emotions. Every living being has emotions, but only human beings have access to spirituality to ensure our emotions are in check.
3. Prolong Life Through Compassion
Does spirituality increase our life span? That can’t be right!
Fortunately, we have the research to back it up or this claim would sound ridiculous. The case study proved that the mortality rate was significantly lower by 18% in people that practiced spirituality compared to people that didn’t.
When we enter a spiritual state, we experience bliss and our mind is in total relaxation. Our lungs, kidneys. heart and vital body organs begin to perform in their most optimum manner. Spiritual connection lowers the stress hormones and other factors that contribute to an unhealthy body.
It goes without saying that a spiritual individual is compassionate. We understand the suffering of the world and others around us. We spend time to understand what causes this hurt and how to solve it.
Being compassionate makes us warm and soulful. We enhance our social bonds around others and pass over our positivity to them.
In turn, we convert those we meet into positive human beings with no association to caste, creed, sexism, or racism.
Let’s take an example of how compassion helps us with our everyday events.
Imagine while shopping you witnessed an impolite person behave in a crude manner to the cashier for wasting their time. As a compassionate being, you sympathize with the cashier and understand their pain of giving it their best.
At the same time, you practice self-discipline and explain the situation to the offensive individual and show him where he is wrong.
In this way, you win the trust of the disrespectful person as well as the cashier and to those around you. This creates a positive situation out of a negative one.
EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRACTICE SPIRITUALITY
Incorporating spirituality into our lives through daily practice is an amazing relaxation form as well as a healthy exercise for the mind and body.
There are many ways to practice spirituality without too much time invested.
Let’s list out 2 such ways.
Just the basic art of everyone’s survival – the intake of oxygen and the release of toxins and carbon dioxide is a spiritual practice. When we concentrate our focus on the flow of our breath, we internally cleanse our mind from all the stress of the world.
This type of healing is therapeutic, and it releases healing energies within us. This can be practiced in a workplace environment or the confines of your home.
- With your knees brought together, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing
- Begin by slow shallow breaths and feel the flow of energy through you
- This celestial experience demonstrates how convenient it’s to shift our focus away from stress
- After 2 minutes of shallow breathing, increase the intensity to deeper and more concentrated breathing
- Feel your chest expand outward and the fresh air circulate through your body
- After 3 minutes of deep breathing, open your eyes gently
You’ll notice that the world around you has gotten clearer and the sounds have intensified.
When we concentrate and take deep breaths, our body is completely oxygenated. This helps our cells and organs heal and thrive.
Did you know writing out your thoughts and opening to yourself is a form of spiritual practice?
Our bodies are vessels through which we see the world. The mind forms various memories – both negative and positive.
For the optimum functioning of our body, we need to find solutions for the bad moments and cherish the good ones.
We spend most of our lives blaming the rest of the world or others for the bad things that happen to us. We rarely point the mirror at ourselves.
When we take the time to write down our thoughts, we open to – ‘Self Reflection’.
Through the practice of journaling, we journey deep within ourselves to understand our faults.
Here is a concept of journaling to replicate into your own lives.
- Every night before you go to bed, write down all the disturbing thoughts on one side of the page
- On the other side of the page, put down happy memories of the day
- The next morning, after waking up, spend 5-minutes of time to self-reflect
- Pay attention to the negative thoughts and ask yourself what you did to deserve them
- Now pay attention to the happy thoughts and ask yourself what you can do to preserve them
This simple exercise has powerful reasoning behind it. When you write down your thoughts before you sleep, you prevent them from reappearing as dreams or as re-occurring thoughts that prevent you from sleeping.
A good night’s rest is possible only when your mind is free of all thought processes.
The following morning you read your thoughts again, to bring them back to the forefront. You’ll spend the first moments of your new day reflecting on your previous day’s mistakes and ensure you don’t repeat them.
3. Gratitude and Forgiveness
Have you ever had someone that hurt your feelings in the past?
When we’re hurt, our emotions are filled with hate and animosity towards others. We forget that we aren’t going to live forever and burden ourselves with a guilty conscience.
Here’s a powerful quote by Gerald Jampolsky about forgiveness.
Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and is, therefore, the means for correcting our misperceptions.
When we hold on to grudges, we prevent ourselves from moving on.
That’s why as a spiritual practice, it’s important to forgive others for their past mistakes.
While it’s also necessary to remember to never be a victim of the same mistake again.
Another important aspect of spirituality is – ‘Gratitude’.
A simple ‘Thank you’ can lift the spirits of your coworker or your loved one. Gratitude is the ultimate form of appreciation that you show to someone.
Whether it’s through gifts or through words, the intent of gratefulness fills you and the person you’re appreciating with positive energy.
Now that we’ve learned the importance of forgiveness and gratitude. Let’s put them into action.
- Reach out to someone that has hurt you in the past and offer your hand in support to restart things again. Give them a second chance to rekindle their relationship with you.
- Write down a list of people that have changed your life for the good and have made the largest impact on your life. Call them up and appreciate them and show them just how lucky you are to have them in your life.
When you observe a mannequin, you’ll notice that its face is empty and devoid of all emotion.
As humans, we require emotions to describe our feelings while spirituality keeps the negative energies at bay.
Otherwise, we are no different than the unexpressive mannequin.
With two creative sources of knowledge that fuel our brain – spiritually and emotionally, we can live an overwhelming life full of happiness by attaining emotional fulfillment and peace.