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Book Freak #47: Make Good Use of Your EmotionsBook Freak is a weekly newsletter with short pieces of advice from books. Subscribe here.
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Daniel Goleman was a science reporter for The New York Times, was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and received the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his media writing. Here’s advice from his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Be aware of your emotions as they occur
“A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The monk replied with scorn, ‘You’re nothing but a lout — I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!’
His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled 'I could kill you for your impertinence.’
'That,’ the monk calmly replied, 'is hell.’
Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.
'And that,’ said the monk, 'is heaven.’
The sudden awakening of the samurai to his own agitated state illustrates the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. Socrates’s injunction 'Know thyself’ speaks to the keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”
Lead by persuading people to work toward a common goal
“Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.”
Understand the value of sadness
“[Sadness] enforces a kind of reflective retreat from life’s busy pursuits, and leaves us in a suspended state to mourn the loss, mull over its meaning, and, finally, make the psychological adjustments and new plans that will allow our lives to continue.”
Understand that worrying isn't magic
“The worry habit is reinforcing in the same sense that superstitions are. Since people worry about many things that have a very low probability of actually occurring — a loved one dying in a plane crash, going bankrupt, and the like —there is, to the primitive limbic brain at least, something magical about it. Like an amulet that wards off some anticipated evil, the worry psychologically gets the credit for preventing the danger it obsesses about.“
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