Have you ever tried to tell yourself to “just relax and enjoy” an unexpected traffic-filled commute that is sure to make you late? You keep telling yourself there’s nothing you can do, so “let go” and “be Zen” about it, only to feel your hands gripping the steering wheel and your eyes rolling out of frustration at the car that jettisoned into your lane. You sarcastically think to yourself, As if they were really going to get there that much faster.
Then you remember to be positive. Back and forth your mind goes like a high-speed Ping-Pong match. On one side, you have frustration-filled thoughts, and on the other you have Pollyanna positive thoughts.
It’s commonly believed that you should be able to just think your way out of negative feelings, yet this isn’t actually how the brain is wired. Once you’re frustrated or stressed, you can’t effectively tell yourself not to be. This belief has caused a society where people would rather think than feel, be in their heads instead of their hearts, or talk rather than tune inside and listen. This won’t lead to lasting happiness.
Consequently, the most important, yet most avoided step toward lasting happiness is emotional intelligence.
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