What is your emotional quotient (EQ) & how to improve it?

What is EQ?
EQ is a popularly accepted abbreviation for Emotional intelligence/Emotional quotient. It is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively using self awareness & empathy. Overall high EQ enables us to deal with people & situations in a more balanced manner, and improves the quality of our relationships. It enables us to inspire, engage & motivate people around us better.

No matter which field you are in, your journey to success will involve relationships & people. Not everyone you meet will be of a temperament or nature similar to yours. Your ability to built constructive interpersonal relationships with people at home or work is the measurement of your EQ. High EQ is gradually becoming a predominant quality of the most successful people in every walk of life. Yes, they have talent/knowledge but what makes them more successful is their EQ (70% of the credit is given to their EQ). With the worldwide growth in the business fraternity it has become imperative to have leaders & managers who are able to lead people with more EQ, primarily because human interactions drive our day to day lives, whether at work or at home.

Now emotional intelligence is not a skill one is born with, in fact it is a skill we can learn & master. This is the reason why it has made its way into school curriculum worldwide. Introducing this skill into the minds of kids early is a result of research on this subject & its positive outcomes.

If you want to check what is your EQ here is a link I found online, that can help you with it – https://www.iq-test.net/eq-test.html

Based on my knowledge & experience and reading some great people’s work in this field,
 I am sharing some of the simplest ways to improve your EQ in a jiffy(kidding) it will be some work, but totally worth it. EQ isn’t something you develop once then drop. It is like rebuilding & updating your inner software from time to time. It’s a lifetime practice, and it is possible to keep improving. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered these steps, remember to keep practicing, and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of your life:

1.Practice Observing How You Feel & Behave:

In the process of rushing from one commitment to the next, meeting deadlines, and responding to external demands, many of us lose touch with our emotions. When we do this, we’re far more likely to act unconsciously and inappropriately too.The emotional reaction we experience might be due to the current situation, or it could be that the current situation is reminding us of a painful, unprocessed memory.
When we pay attention to how we’re feeling or become aware of our emotions, we learn to trust our emotions, and we become far more able to manage them.
While you’re practicing your emotional awareness, pay attention to your behavior too. Notice how you act when you’re experiencing certain emotions, and how that affects your day-to-day life. Does it impact your communication with others, your productivity, or your overall sense of well-being?
It could be a feeling of stress, resentment or anger, how do you react then? Make a note of these instances.

EXERCISE: Maintain a dairy, a journal of sorts, pen down the highlights of your day/week, this will help you vent out your emotions constructively and you will also be able to analyze them without jumping to conclusions.

2.Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Behavior

This is probably the most challenging step, and it’s also the most helpful. Your emotions and behavior come from you—they don’t come from anyone else—therefore, you’re the one who’s responsible for them.
If you feel hurt in response to something someone says or does, and you lash out at them, you’re responsible for that. They didn’t “make” you lash out (they’re not controlling you with puppet strings, after all!), your reaction is your responsibility.
Once you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and how you behave, this will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.

3.Practice Responding, Rather than Reacting

There’s a subtle but important difference between responding and reacting.
Reacting is an unconscious process where we experience an emotional trigger, and behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves that emotion (for example, feeling irritated and snapping at the person who has just interrupted you).
Responding is a conscious process that involves noticing how you feel, then deciding how you want to behave (for example, feeling irritated, explaining to the person how you feel, why this isn’t a good time to be interrupting you, and when would be better).

4.Practice Empathy

Empathy is about understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and being able to communicate that understanding to them. It applies to ourselves and other people, and practicing this ability will improve your EQ.
Start by practicing with yourself. When you notice yourself feeling or behaving in a certain way, ask “Why do I think I’m feeling like this/doing this?” At first, your response might be “I don’t know,” but keep paying attention to your feelings and behavior, and you’ll start to notice different answers coming through. Use empathy & sensitivity towards people,their reactions and yours as well.

5.Create A Positive Environment

As well as practicing the skills I’ve mentioned so far, its imperative to make time to notice what is going well and where you feel grateful in your life.
Creating a positive environment not only improves your quality of life, but it can be contagious to people around you.Your mindset will transform and you will be able to adapt to situations & learning in a better way.
EXERCISE: Maintain a dairy, a journal of sorts, pen down what you are grateful for on a daily/weekly basis. I call it the gratitude journal. It infuses our minds with the required dose of positivity. 

6.Practice mindfulness

Indulge in activities or practices that help you step away from the chaos and explore your emotions.
It could be yoga, meditation, journal-ling or even coloring. The choice is yours, choose what inspires & intriguies you and then make an effort to be consistent with it. In todays fast paced world it is so easy to get bored of doing the same thing, but this behavior only adds to our anxiety. Learn to curb this fidgety feeling & dedicate yourself to an activity that helps you relax & destress on a regular basis.
Lately, after the release of my coloring book for adults titled UmeniTherapy, I received emails from people using it as a daily ritual to engage themselves in a positive manner. Coloring is helping adults step out of their mobile crazy routines and explore their creativity, calmness, mindfulness & peace in their minds with only 15 minutes a day.
Perhaps, it is right to believe, if there is any skill we wish to learn or master we need our minds & our sanity to help us get there.
Hope this helps you be positive & improve your EQ!
Stay blessed!


Art therapy for your Parents

As our parent grow older, they have lesser creative & constructive entertainment options. I see most of them resort to those typical ‘saas-bahu’ TV shows, whatsapp or struggling on Facebook.
Perhaps we as children need to rekindle their creative side for two primary reasons, one aging is tough process almost like puberty where one needs time to understand what is happening inside the body & how it is affecting their daily lives, and two because once the kids are all grown up & independent parents are left feeling a bit abandoned. Because they have spent most of their life making us their priority now that we don’t need them so often leaves them with enough time to explore something new.
There are multiple things you can encourage your parents to try based on their interests.
I will talk about my favorite – ART!

Art can be very beneficial  as a therapy for even older adults who need to manage stress or pain, or any sort of illnesses.

Some of the benefits of using art therapy include:

1. Improved brain function:
Painting , sculpting and similar pursuits are a way to challenge the mind and promote cognitive abilities. It is said that act of being creative can serve to uncover connections and passions about the world. For extreme cases of people living with advanced memory loss art therapy can be a way to communicate and offer seniors to be expressive.

2. Reduced stress & channelize positive energy:
The pressure of ageing often makes them cranky, irritable & generally unhappy about things. Not only art therapy is a way to combat signs of dementia but also gives an opportunity to work through anxiety and negative feelings. The calming nature of painting, coloring or other creative pursuits is a way to forget about larger stresses and promote healthy and happy feelings.
Overall art therapy can be a rewarding experience even for individuals who aren’t  specifically living with negative feelings. Coloring’s calming effect can have a positive impact on all adults and a new creative outlet can unlock hidden creativity & positivity.

3. Alleviating pain:
Hypertension, arthritis and other disorders can cause chronic pain and these may be exacerbated by emotional pain or other ailments. Not only the relaxing nature of art therapy reduce these issues but also can reduce physical ailments and stiffness.
Regular art therapy or coloring engages the fingers, arms and hands. The light but consistent physical activity can promote better blood flow and dexterity. With time adults who begin painting or sketching may feel more nimble and experience less pain. For anyone living with arthritis, art therapy won’t stop the chronic pain but relaxation therapy like art therapy can be a way of managing and controlling discomfort.

Now, yes it would be difficult to put in a canvas & paint brush in front of your parents & expect them to dish out masterpieces. 
So I would recommend you start with simple & easy Coloring book.
My Coloring book for adults is called Umeni Therapy, easily available on the Amazon in India on the link below:
http://www.amazon.in/dp/B01M8M6DWM

It’s easy to carry around, not a messy option as you can use gel pens, color pencils and even pointed crayons to color the book.

The feedback from my older adults group has been fantastic, so it would be great if you introduce this to your parents too.
Happy Coloring!