Several years ago I wrote a book called The Economy of Emotions. In the book’s preface I explained unusual juxtaposition of the words “economy” and “emotions” in the title.

Usually when we think of the word “economy” we think of money, finances, or the stock market. A Google search of the news finds headlines such as, “As China's Economy Revives, So Do Fears of Inflation,” “Euro Leaders Declaring Worst Is Over Turn to Economy Woes,” and “Wyoming's Boom Economy Offers Jobs, but Little Chance for Housing.”

The New American Heritage Dictionary defines economy as “the careful or thrifty use or management of resources . . . .” Our emotions are an important resource. Emotions, or more precisely, the economical use of our emotions, are a capability, an asset, and a basis for success.

But often emotions are looked upon negatively. Emotions can get us into trouble when we lose our temper at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or at the wrong person. Falling in love with the wrong person can get us into trouble. We have stereotypes about emotions such as that they are not “business-like;” that it’s “unmanly to cry;” or that “only the simple-minded are happy all the time.”

The United States seems to be a nation where emotions have run amok: Road rage, school shootings, domestic violence, workplace violence, violence on TV and in the movies, violent video games . . . the list is endless!

Opposite violence, on the other end of the spectrum, is America’s relentless pursuit of pleasure through sex, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, etc. Bringing pleasure to Americans is a trillion dollar business.

But when we use our emotions “economically,” that is constructively, they can be an asset instead of a liability. By effectively communicating our feelings and thoughts to others, we can achieve our goals and desires. By dealing with stress effectively, we are more relaxed and more capable to deal with the situation at hand. By using proven problem solving techniques, we can overcome obstacles to our success.

“Emotional Intelligence” is the term given to the set of skills that address the emotional, personal, social, and survival dimensions of intelligence. Contrast these skills to the cognitive aspects of intelligence, what we think of as IQ (Intelligence Quotient, a measure of our cognitive abilities). While cognitive intelligence determines our ability and capacity to learn, emotional intelligence determines what we do with what we have learned. Also, while our IQs are basically stagnant and will not change over the course of our life, EQs (Emotional Quotient) can be increased by learning new skills and with practice.

An interesting note: The word “intelligence” did not appear before the 20th Century; it did not appear in the best accredited books on psychology until 1927. Also of worthy note: The words “moron,” “imbecile,” and “idiot” were originally scientific terms to describe one’s IQ.

For myself the areas of Emotional Intelligence that I have worked on include Interpersonal Relationships, Stress Tolerance, and Happiness. Having grown up shy and introverted, I have needed to learn how to share and communicate my thoughts and feelings. In the beginning I overcame my shyness just by saying “Hi,” to strangers. As a hippy hitchhiking, I was put into situations where I had to converse with those who would give me a ride. Later I took classes on communications and public speaking.

Daily I work on Stress Tolerance by using meditation and constantly reminding myself to live in the present moment. To have more happiness in my life I use the technique of focusing on an imaginary ball of energy and concentrating on the feeling of happiness inside me.

Just as the financial economy is the constant effort of managing resources and making adjustments, so is the economy of emotions. We must manage our emotions by controlling our tempers or not showing our happiness when it comes at the expense of another. We must adjust our stress tolerance in response to changing situations and struggle to maintain our happiness in response to our changing moods.

I hope that my blog helps you to manage your important resource of Emotional Intelligence. 

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