At this point, it has been well-established that there are multiple types of intelligence. Emotional intelligence, which refers to our ability to understand the emotions of ourselves and others, is one of the most important types of intelligence. It allows us to successfully navigate the social world and regulate our innermost feelings. A higher level of emotional intelligence fosters motivation, resilience, and empathy. It makes it easier to communicate and de-escalate conflict. With so much to be gained, individuals should actively seek to build their emotional intelligence.

The first step toward maximizing your potential for emotional intelligence is being aware of your thoughts and feelings. Experts divide emotional intelligence into four distinct categories. Self-regulation refers to an individual’s ability to control their emotions. Motivation describes a person’s ability to foster intrinsic motivation for meaningful growth. Empathy is the capability to properly discern others’ emotions. Social skills are the overarching capabilities to harness the aforementioned traits to enhance social interactions. Individuals can look inside themselves to gauge their social and emotional abilities.

Research suggests that emotional intelligence plays a major role in academic and even career success. Effectively regulating their own behavior gives people the strength and resilience to battle through difficult periods. Staying motivated keeps people from giving up and compels them to work harder. Developing empathy allows people to connect with others and seek socially-positive solutions to distressing problems. Social skills, meanwhile, allow for the type of collaboration that brings consistent results.

With researchers having determined the impact of emotional intelligence, many are now wondering if emotional intelligence (EI) is even more important than the oft-cited intelligence quotient (IQ). As much as IQ can help with problem solving and situational awareness, EI might prove even more crucial in the creation of a fulfilling, productive, and happy life. Considering how interconnected our lives are with our own emotions and the emotions of others, perhaps this doesn’t come as a surprise.

If people judge a human life by the level of happiness attained, then there can be no doubting the supremacy of emotional intelligence. Studies have consistently shown a direct correlation between EI and happiness. Considering all the benefits of EI, it is no wonder it leads to happiness.

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