You Say It's Your Birthday?
I celebrated another birthday last month.
As I have mellowed, so too have the celebrations.
Quiet dinners with my family have replaced
loud parties with friends, and moderation
isn't something I scoff at any more. Instead
of using the day as an excuse to indulge and
go crazy, my birthdays are now an occasion
for quiet reflection. In a way, I've brought
the celebration inside.
This has made my mind my most important participant
in my celebration. If my mind isn't right,
it won't be much of a celebration. Because
of this, on my birthday, I resolve not to
let anything drag me down and to focus only
on the positive.
If I dump half of the top shelf in the refrigerator
trying to get orange juice for breakfast,
who cares - it's my birthday. If a fellow
commuter challenges me on my drive to work,
not a problem - it's my birthday. If the kids
leave the kitchen a mess, it's not the end
of the world - it's my birthday.
I attempt to control and direct my emotions
to improve my experiences, practicing emotional
intelligence - the ability to recognize and
control one's emotions for personal development.
The term emotional intelligence has been
around for more than 100 years. Though there
isn't consensus among scientists about its
validity as actual intelligence, most of us
can benefit from its general foundation -
awareness and purposeful manipulation of human
emotion. If we can be aware of our emotions
and their causes, we can attempt to control
I learned about emotional intelligence by
reading the book Emotional
Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean
Greaves. Before reading the book, I accepted
my emotions as a consequence of daily activities
- something that would come and go. I resisted
dwelling on my emotions and their causes,
thereby undervaluing their effect on life
satisfaction and personal development.
Emotional intelligence starts with awareness
of emotions. At almost every point in the
day, our emotions color our perception of
the world, even if we are unaware of this
effect. If you are combing through your e-mail,
and you come across a message from someone
who has disappointed or angered you recently,
that anger and disappointment comes back.
Though those emotions might not be as intense
as they once were, they still affect us and
our approach to the world, while they are
Likewise, when we take time to notice the
simple things in life, like the peaceful quiet
of a new morning dawn, we fuel ourselves with
positive emotions. Someone who can become
tuned in to his emotions can minimize their
negative disruptions while exploiting their
positive benefits, but it takes practice.
Like learned intelligence, emotional intelligence
gains strength through repetition.
I stressed emotional intelligence on my birthday
this year, and I had a great, peaceful day,
which tells me that I need to do that the
other 364 days of the year. I'm pretty sure
that I'm bending pages in the second half
of this really intriguing book called life,
and it's getting good. It will be better with
-- Mitch Arnold