For nearly twenty years now, emotional intelligence has been identified as an important ability that is critical to reaching the highest levels of success in a variety of occupations. In 1997, Peter Salovey and John Mayer coined the term and defined it as:
“… the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”
Daniel Goleman, internationally renowned psychologist and author who popularized the term, identified five components to emotional intelligence, or EQ:
• Internal motivation
• Social Skills
In fact, EQ has been identified as twice as important than technical skills for jobs at all levels. This is also true for academic achievement, and why social emotional learning, or SEL, has grown in importance in schools in recent years. A study shows shows that up to 50% of children showed improved achievement scores and up to 38% improvement in grade-point averages at schools that included SEL programs.
Cultivating gratitude is a key component to SEL. In an article by author Susan Davis, gratitude is linked to emotional intelligence because it involves the following two components:
• emotional awareness (“am I grateful or ungrateful”?)
• emotional self-regulation (“how can I make myself more grateful, so that I’m happier and more effective in my daily life?”)
Intentionally focusing on people and things that one is grateful for also strengthens empathy and helps build stronger relationships and social skills.
Thanksgiving is a time once a year where all Americans are encouraged to consider what they are grateful for. But making a daily habit of acknowledging who and what we are grateful for can be life-changing. Roycemore students have been coached to do this in homeroom and advisory discussions, by using the Givthx app, and even through special projects like the Thanksgiving Gratitude Turkey. What the students aren’t aware of, however, is that by cultivating gratitude they are also building the important “power skill” of emotional intelligence.
No doubt, this Thanksgiving is likely one of the more difficult Thanksgivings that America has faced collectively, and many of us have faced individually. Yet, in the midst of the pandemic, there are bright spots that we can focus on. As you pause from the busyness of life this Thanksgiving, I hope you can join me in acknowledging those bright spots for you and your children. The simple act of gratitude has a far greater impact than you might imagine.