Aristotle once said “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy”. Last year I read the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” and this particular quote just seemed to resonate with me. I understand exactly what Aristotle is saying, yet until I read this book, I never actually thought about how true this is. In the first part of the book, Daniel Goleman discusses how important Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is at an early age. I now believe that children, even at the ages of two or three, should have an understanding about how their emotional not only affects themselves, but also others. I found it remarkable when Goleman talked about the different stages of learning EQ in school, from pre-school to high school and how each year the students learn at a more in depth level. First beginning by being able to point out an emotion, through a face on a card, to being able to discuss how they are feeling, and what the best way to deal with that emotion is.
I also really liked how each time Goleman started talking about a new issue within EQ, he would converse an example of it first. For example, in The Emotional Sentinel section, Goleman writes:
Taking a stroll afterward along the stone steps down to the canal, he suddenly saw a girl gazing at the water, her face frozen in fear. Before he knew quite why, he had jumped in the water – in his coat and tie. Only once he was in the water did he realized that the girl was staring in shock at a toddler who had fallen in – whom he was able to rescue.
As I first read that passage, I found it strange in a way, because I have been through a similar experience myself. When I was about 12, I lived with my mother and father and we had a huge in ground pool in our backyard. Very often we had friends and family over to go swimming and relax outside. I remember one afternoon, my best friend Katy and her mother and siblings came over. Katy and her mother had an orthodontist appointment to go to, so neither of them were in their swimsuit. I remember being at the opposite corner of the pool, looking for my favorite pair of goggles, when I heard yelling. Without even comprehending what was going on, I was already running full pace into the deep end of our pool to save Katy’s little sister Lily. Apparently her mother didn’t actually think she would jump off the diving board without her “swimmies” on, but being a little kid with no fear, she leaped right in, later realizing that she couldn’t swim without them. After the fact, it took me a few moments to realize everything that had happened. Just as Goleman talks about how your brain normally goes from a visual sight to the retina to the thalamus and is then transformed into the language of the brain. Well in this instance of adrenaline, my brain must have bypassed its normal pathway and went straight to the amygdale, without hesitation I was in the pool saving Lily. I guess you could say this was my example of “Emotional Hijacking”.
Also, working in the field of law, I can understand at times, why people may have made a bad decision. Daniel Goleman talks about how a father accidently shot his daughter, who he later found out was hiding in the closet to say “boo”. Because of fear to protect his family, the father shot his own daughter, thinking someone had broken into his home. How can you make a decisions to prosecute someone for killing his own daughter when he thought he was actually protecting her?
Anyways, I thought this book was fantastic and probably one of the most thought-provoking and mentally stimulating books I have read in a long time. I honestly was surprised how easy it was to read. So if you’re bored or don’t know what book to pick up next, try to go a more professional route and pick up a book that is both educational and a good read… and then come back and let me know what you think!
Sooner than later,