If You Are Emotionally Intelligent You Should Be Optimistic, Happy, and Free of Stress

By Dr Jeff Bailey

The factors that comprise emotional intelligence include people's ability to adapt, to manage stress, to deal effectively with interpersonal relationships, to understand themselves, and finally, the theme of today's article, general mood. There are two sub-factors in general mood and they are optimism and happiness. These are two psychological states that are great indicators of the satisfaction that we experience when our life is meaningful and in order. Obviously, if you are optimistic and happy, it is extremely unlikely that you will experience significant levels of personal stress or work stress. Still, regardless of how well things are going in our life, we still have challenges and problems that can diminish our feelings of optimism and happiness. 
The guru of optimism is Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, the author of Learned Optimism, and a prolific researcher and author. If you want more detail on Martin's positive psychology check out his website at the University of Pennsylvania. To improve mental health and well-being, Seligman promotes the notion of positive emotions, positive character, and positive institutions. The premise is that rather than focusing on the negative aspects of life, we should be building enabling systems and approaches to augment the happier and positive side of human experience. Through international comparisons, Seligman and colleagues identified five positive personality characteristics that exemplify the best human traits: kindness, fairness, authenticity, gratitude, and open-mindedness (for more details see his 2005 article in American Psychologist). 
When people focus on these positive characteristics they become socially responsible, kind, courageous, wise, fair, and optimistic. Being positive and optimistic is not only stress buffering but these personal styles provide a set of social-cognitive behaviors that promote good relationships and a happy and productive life. People who exemplify these positive attributes have lives that are full of zest, gratitude, hope, and love. Seligman suggests that these are strongly related to life satisfaction. 
In terms of happiness, Seligman promotes three notions: the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life. Someone whose life is pleasant, engaged, and meaningful is likely to be 'happy' and happiness leads to better health, improved social relationships, and enhanced career success. Obviously, there is a mutual reciprocity between and among these personality characteristics and life circumstances. 
It all sounds simple but the major point is that we are responsible for our own optimism and happiness. If we take a positive, upbeat approach to managing our thoughts and our lives we will have a pleasant, engaged, and meaningful life. Obviously, people who are optimistic and happy manage stress well, have reduced levels of stress and anxiety, and have more fulfilling lives.
Dr Jeff, a psychologist, writes about workplace stress, personal stress, interpersonal stress, and how to manage stress. On his blog, http://www.drjeffbailey.com, he answers questions from readers. He works hard to make his articles practical and helpful and all of his articles are based on sound research evidence and extensive clinical experience. Please go to his Dr Jeff blog to get your free report on stress.

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