Alhamdulillah, my mother is a psychiatrist and, since I am visiting her now, I have access to a plethora of fascinating books. One of those books is “Emotional Intelligence” by Dr. Daniel Goleman.
Dr. Goleman contends that emotional intelligence is more important for lifelong happiness than cognitive intelligence, which is taught and valued more in schools. Emotional intelligence means that you understand the emotions of yourself and of others. Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, empathy (being able to participate in the feelings of others), and self-control.
I believe that the most important skill to learn in order to be more “emotionally intelligent” is SELF AWARENESS. This means that you are aware of the emotions that are motivating your behavior.
When you realize that your feelings lead to your behaviors, you will better understand your life. You will be able to behave in ways that you want to behave.
One of the most important emotions, in my opinion, for living in this challenging world is: calmness. Whenever I am feeling anxiety regarding something going on in my life, I have trained myself to stay calm. This has been especially useful when dealing with family members. Sometimes a family member says something that bothers me. The first step is to recognize that I am feeling bothered (or some other negative emotion). Once I acknowledge that something has affected my inner calmness, I remind myself to become calm.
This is an amazing skill that can truly change your life if you can master it. When you are calm, you will make better decisions and you can see the situation more clearly and objectively. Sometimes the best decision is to be silent, to choose NOT to give your energy to something that you do not want to feed (such as a rude remark or a disagreement that just is not worth your time).
In my opinion, being calm is a good deed. Becoming calm brings many benefits to the world (such as preventing negative emotions and words). Since Islam is about doing good deeds, in my opinion there is much barakah (blessing) in being calm when we are being tested emotionally.