“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
The above quote probably represents the essence of what emotional intelligence means.
Let us try to deconstruct this and see how mindfulness can help us achieve emotional intelligence.
We cannot do anything to the stimulus that life gives us. It is not within our control. But we can respond to the stimulus in different ways. There is a space between stimulus and response. But very often, this space is not conscious and we respond in a reflexive way.
However, we can increase this space by training. We can do this because our brain is plastic and can change. This training is by the process of mindfulness.
This mindfulness involves training our attention, labelling and pausing before reacting. We do this by focusing our attention on the body and the breath because emotions show themselves as changes in the body or the breath. When we focus our attention in this way we develop a high-resolution vivid perception of what actually is happening in our body and breath at any given moment.This then leads to high-resolution perception emotion and develops our intuition( gut feelings).
The physiological changes that happens are decrease in amygdala activation( decreasing reflexive response) and increasing prefrontal cortex activation( increasing the brake-pedal in our brain).
All of this leads to a calm and clear mind that is highly attentive, has a lot of space before reacting and becomes highly intuitive. This leads to apt responses in all aspects of our lives. This is what emotional intelligence in reality means. This leads to stellar work performance, outstanding leadership and ability to create the conditions of happiness.
This then leads to an optimised life.