Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is Your EQ Consistent with Your IQ?

EQ or Emotional Intelligence (popularly referred to as EQ) is a term that’s been around a while. Author Daniel Goleman brought it into prominence in the 1980s with his best-seller, you guessed it, “Emotional Intelligence.” What is EQ and how is it different from IQ? And, why does it matter, anyways?

IQ, as we know, is an individual’s ability to learn, memorize, problem solve, reason, communicate, and process information. Scientists believe that both genetics and the environment can influence an individual’s IQ and that it cuts across gender and ethnicity. Myriad tests are available on the market that assess IQ and are used by educators as predictors of a student’s educational achievement or “giftedness.” The higher the score on these tests, the higher your IQ — it’s that simple.

For example, the general population’s IQ hovers around 100; a person with superior intelligence power would have an IQ that’s between 110 – 140; a score of 140 and above generally characterizes various levels of brilliance, including genius. Some historic and celebrity IQs include: Isaac Newton – 190, Albert Einstein – 160, Bill Gates – 160, Bill Clinton – 137, Benjamin Netanyahu – 180, Comedian Steve Martin – 142. (source. Not sure how they derive IQ of historic figures since IQ tests, as they are used today, were developed only a hundred or so years ago).

The irony is these IQ tests were originally developed to identify the cognitive deficiencies of mentally-disabled children so it could help architect their individual education plans. Today, IQ is used to determine everything from a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses to school placement, and is the ticket to academic and professional success. Consequently, parents invest wholeheartedly in their children’s academic development—sometimes, too much. Many local, national, and international organizations offer stimulating intellectual opportunities for people with high IQs. Most Nobel Prize winners have high IQ. Higher IQ students perform better on college entrance exams than their lower IQ counterparts. Per research, individuals with higher IQs are more likely to perform better at work and less likely to engage in crime. Is it surprising why society hails intellectual competence and (I believe erroneously) equates it to personal success?

Let’s address EQ, which is an individual’s ability to identify, assess, and manage their own emotions and of others. There, I think I just lost some of my gentlemen readers!

Seriously, “emotions” is an uncomfortable topic for many. It’s like floss stuck in teeth. One emotion in particular fascinates me: fear. I firmly believe all negative and self-defeating behaviors spring from fear—the entity that has the power to keep us shackled to our past. The inability to connect to others, failure to understand and respect others’ opinions, the need for control, insecurities, doubt, poor judgment, inaction, egotism, perfectionism, low self-esteem—all stem from fear, and can result in various forms of long-term misery and large-scale suffering:
  • physical, mental, emotional and psychological pressures on a personal level
  • uncertainty and risk on an organizational level
  • loss of creativity and innovation on an entrepreneurial level
  • mayhem and instability on a national level; and recession on a global level.

How does an individual overcome their fears? The obvious answer lies in acknowledging and accepting fears so the individual can begin the transition from being miserable to being happy or content. This literally translates to taking a leap of faith and confronting fear in its face through deliberate intention and conscious action. Readers are probably already wrestling with uncomfortable thoughts such as approaching the boss for a raise, delivering an impending presentation, talking with the spouse/partner about their dysfunctional relationship, calling the dentist to confirm a root canal appointment, exploring ways to stop negative self-talk, or struggling to decide between the wretched day job and the alluring dream job.

Of paramount importance here is the impact of the heart-pumping, nerve-wracking, adrenaline-surging process known as CHANGE, a phenomenon most individuals resist because of beliefs based on bias, ego gratification, or error. To complicate matters further, an accessory of change — letting go — results in a terrifying state of mind that potentially could spell catastrophe, including the loss of friends and family, status, finances, and security. So how do we let go of our comfort zone and take the plunge into the ocean of change?

Change doesn’t happen overnight or automatically. It clearly requires planning and consideration of the issues and a commitment to implement appropriate action, which includes casting aside doubts, concerns, and insecurities as also expectation and judgment. I believe if we can honestly examine our feelings, believe in ourselves, and surrender the outcome, the universe will conspire to develop things at the suitable time and place, and in the way they were intended. Thus, bit by bit and day by day, freedom from fear will begin to pave the way for freedom from suffering.


Your high IQ helps connect you to the external universe, but how connected are you to your family and your “inner” universe? Your intellectual depth has garnered much admiration and respect, but does your temper and ego take center-stage during conversations? Your intellectual competence makes you a sought-after professional, but do your personal relationships have you bolting in the opposite direction? You’re an action-oriented professional, but are you able to rid your life of stagnation and open up to new things? Is your EQ consistent with your IQ?

Questions are for you to ask; the answers will come find you. Vipassana meditation, the passport to freedom, can help an individual release irrational fears and negativity; help face difficulties and social pressures in a calm, patient, and relaxed way; help develop the faculties of empathy, understanding, and respect; and help enhance patience, persistence, and positive thinking. When an individual is equipped with life’s valuable coping skills, the result can only be a life filled with a deeply satisfying sense of freedom.

May the force of silence be with you.

Until we meet again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

From Confusion to Comprehension

Project Happiness -- A Movie Review

I had the pleasure of meeting filmmaker Randy Taran yesterday at the screening of her much acclaimed short film, "Project Happiness." Hosted at the India Community Center (ICC) in Milpitas, CA, this event drew over 40 attendees.

Imagine this: The teaming up of three groups of students, one each from Santa Cruz, California, the Dominion Heritage Academy in Jos, Nigeria, and the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharmasala, India, culminates in a private meeting with His Holiness The Dalai Lama! Who are these children? What do they have in common? And, what do they seek? 

The children are all teens, many of them with troubled pasts, who set out on the eternal quest: What is happiness and where/how do you find it? The film shadows their journey of understanding the nature of lasting happiness.

Millions of students worldwide are bullied in schools or otherwise endure abuse, and suffer from its consequences such as stress, anger, feelings of alienation, even clinical depression. Just the every day challenges of passing from adolescence to adulthood is overwhelming. The suicide rate among stressed-out teens has also risen dramatically over the years, leaving educators, administrators and parents stranded on the island of helplessness. This film illustrates several points:
  • Engaging kids in a conversation about happiness to help raise awareness about themselves and their situations.
  • Encouraging youth to participate in community activities to strengthen their sense of belonging.
  • Challenging students to explore beyond academics to deepen their sense of wonder and intrigue.
  • The seed of happiness is inside everyone, and we can help cradle that potential with our willingness to learn.
  • Sharing our experiences helps expand our happiness.
  • Self reflection is a tool for managing daily stresses and struggle.

I thought the film was tremendous. It's very well made and effectively weaves together the various strands of social and emotional issues faced by today's teenage community. It poignantly illustrates how managing negative energy wedges allows us to manifest who we are and what we want. I think it also made quite an impact on my two teenage sons who watched alongside me. They are considering starting a happiness club in school.

Randy Taran went on to found the Project Happiness nonprofit -- an offshoot of the film -- centered around developing classroom programs to promote social and emotional learning. If you would like to help schedule a screening in your area, please contact the organization via the Request a Screening form and they will be in touch with you.

Here's the link to the YouTube trailer: