What I’ve Been Reading

I finally finished reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. I read the 10th anniversary edition, which has a (somewhat lengthy) introduction that I found very helpful in providing context and perspective for the book. Many people have said many things about this book, so rather than give you a summary or analysis of it, I’m going to share why I like the book and a few of my favorite quotes. (I highlighted the living daylights out of this book, so it really is just a few of my favorite quotes.)

Why I liked it: This book helped me understand how my brain and body physiologically process and create feelings. Knowing how that works has given me much less guilt and shame over feelings I wish I didn’t have. It has also revealed a “map” of my brain, so if I want to include rational thought and not just be overwhelmed by emotions, I have a guide to follow the pathways in my brain and have empowered myself to take steps to change those pathways and emotional reactions.

Select Quotes:

“Our emotions have a mind of their own, one which can hold views quite independently of our rational mind.”

“The urgent message the amygdala sends is sometimes, if not often, out-of-date – especially in the fluid social world we humans inhabit. As the repository for emotional memory, the amygdala scans experience, comparing what is happening now with what happened in the past. Its method of comparison is associative: when one key element of a present situation is similar to the past, it can call it a “match” – which is why this circuit is sloppy: it acts before there is a full confirmation. It frantically commands that we react to the present in ways that were imprinted long ago, with thoughts, emotions, reactions learned in response to events perhaps only dimly similar, but close enough to alarm the amygdala.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed, and many, many different abilities that will help you get there.”

“Socrates’s injunction ‘Know thyself’ speaks to this keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”

“People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change.”

“It is not that we want to do away with emotion and put reason in its place, as Erasmus had it, but instead find the intelligent balance between the two. The old paradigm held an ideal of reason freed from the pull of emotion. The new paradigm urges us to harmonize head and heart. To do that well in our lives means we must first understand more exactly what it means to use emotion intelligently.”

Up Next: “Painting for the Absolute and Utter Beginner” and/or “The Art of Racing in The Rain”


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