By Alex Valeri, 3rd year English major
This may come as a surprise to those of you who know me but I am not, in any way, a genius. I don’t have an eidetic memory or an uncanny ability to memorize obscure facts or statistics on the recent fiscal crisis in North America. I can’t read War and Peace in a two hour sitting and I don’t have an IQ of 187 (if you believe that intelligence can be accurately quantified). As much as I would like to believe that I could keep up with the likes of Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds or Spock from Star Trek, I am sorry to say that it’s just not possible, although I do, on occasion, manage to get some Jeopardy answers right.
With that said, this summer as I completed my Peer Learning Assistant homework, I learned about the importance of emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EQ — something that immediately caught my interest.
Emotional intelligence means being able to understand and manage your own emotions and thoughts as well as being aware of other people’s feelings around you. It is becoming more and more accepted as a key indicator of success and a way of maximizing your full potential.
People who are emotionally intelligent are self-aware, empathetic, motivated and willing to take responsibility and criticism. They don’t break down in times of a crisis and they are not constantly blaming others for mistakes. These skills allow them to succeed in school, the workplace and everyday life.
Never fear those of you who are reading this description and thinking: “That is definitely NOT me.” There are many ways to improve your EQ, including these three easy adjustments:
1) Eat healthy, sleep and exercise: These are just basic components of healthy living! Doing these three things makes you feel good about yourself and more confident in your abilities. It’s difficult to be an empathetic, self-aware and adaptive person when you are running on 4 hours of sleep every night. [Editor’s note: As a prime example of this, I have a tendency to cry over just about anything if I’m sleep-deprived!]
2) Build positive relationships: Having friends and family you can go to for help, support and advice is crucial during those difficult times in life. It’s also important that you are there for them in return in order to build a fulfilling and lasting relationship. Practice empathy by listening non-judgmentally and without interruption to your upset friend, or just putting yourself in their shoes.
3) Try a new perspective: A positive attitude can totally change your perspective on life. Positivity means being able to smile, laugh and keep things in perspective when times get tough. It also means believing in yourself. One strategy for this is to practice “cognitive re-framing.” When you experience a setback, try viewing it in the following way: “This is just one setback — it doesn’t mean that I won’t succeed at my next task. I’ve recovered from failure before and I’ll recover again. One setback or failure doesn’t mean that I will always experience setback or failure in the future, or that I won’t improve. Mistakes are normal during the learning process. What can I learn from this experience, instead of feel bad about myself?”
As university students, it’s easy to get bogged down with assignments, midterms and worst of all, stress! (Especially around this time of year!) Strong emotional intelligence can help you navigate these tough times and come out on top. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be upset or feel stress, but developing your EQ may help you manage those stressors more effectively.
Last but not least, remember what Henry Ford said: “Whether you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
[Editor’s note: Emotional Intelligence doesn’t mean you’ll always feel like laughing or smiling. Stress, grief, anger, and other troubling emotions are normal, too. But EQ can help you manage those feelings in a more effective way. For more help with EQ and academics, feel free to make an advising appointment with our professional staff by calling 613-533-6315. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, we also recommend the Peer Support Centre in the JDUC as well as Counselling Services at LaSalle Building on campus.]
[Final editor’s note: C’mon, that smiling banana must have made you smile, too, right? Photo courtesy of red5standingby.]