5 Roundabout Ways to Emotional Intelligence

by Melissa Karnaze

“5 Ways to Misery,” produced by aish.com, instructs you on what to do, in order to be miserable in life. But because human communication is often riddled with sarcasm, what it’s really telling you is what not to do, in order to be happy in life.

The “5 Ways to Misery” story of how to be happy is actually misleading. To some extent I agree with what the video is actually saying — sarcastically that is.

How’s that for convoluted communication? (Yeah, I don’t think sarcasm is a good channel for self-help topics either.) Before this post becomes riddled with double speak, take a look at the video posted below, and then report back here.

I’ll explain my reasoning in a moment…

…welcome back.

So, are you now motivated to *not* follow the steps outlined in the video?

If only if it were that simple, right?

Always having a balanced perspective and not letting your emotions blow out of proportion, ever. (When they are specifically designed to convey the meaning of information, no matter how out-of-proportion that information may be.)

“5 Ways to Misery” simplifies too easily

It would be simple if we were all raised in a perfect world, with loving parents, functional families, safe schools, healthy work environments, a state governed by honest policies, and a globe guided by humanitarian efforts. And if us little girls, and especially us little boys, were raised with a constructive, rather than self-sabotoging view of our emotions — that is, if we were taught how to use our emotions to enhance our intelligence, rather than as target practice.

Our lives are not simple, but complicated

Yes, not-doing-what-the-video-says-to-do would be simple under those conditions. But since we didn’t grow up in a perfect world (and still aren’t living in one as adults), there’s a good chance that most, if not all of us have cognitive dissonance over each of the five points that the video is sarcastically making.

In other words, people model to us dysfunctional behaviors, then expect us to be able to act out functional ones, when all we have are the faulty models. For example, it is likely that most, if not all of us:

    1) Learned not to expect unfaithful attention and respect from our elders and authority figures — making it difficult to establish higher expectations for what we do and not accept from others, even though we know that self-confidence and self-respect means setting those higher standards
    2) Were taught never to take things personally, because emotions are not be trusted, and anger has cooties — making it socially unacceptable to make a fuss over things that we do take personally, because they do affect us personally
    3) Were taught not to rock the boat, make waves, or bring up issues that are bothering us — making it hard to rationalize confronting others directly in a society where “courtesy” comes before honesty
    4) Were taught by our role models that our mistakes were in fact failures, our shortcomings were sins, and our problems were something to feel guilty over (not just fix) — making it hard to swim against society’s perfectionist ideals of financial wealth, beauty as defined by the media, and social prestige (whatever that means in this web 2.0 era)
    5) Were taught not to complain or whine about our problems — which leaves us feeling emotionally validated in our closest relationships, when those we seek as confidants constantly try to fix our problems instead of allow for us to feel the pain and find the solutions on our own

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t entirely disagree with what the video is really saying — not sarcastically, that is.

A more realistic take on “5 Ways to Misery”

Having realistic expectations of life and other people, keeping a balanced perspective, focusing on solutions, loving and accepting yourself, and cultivating gratidude are all crucial to leading a happy and rewarding life — when they are long-term goals.

But it’s in the short-term that we are living our lives. We have a lot of dysfunctional beliefs to sort through — at least one life-time’s worth. Not even counting childhood and the angsty teenage years, as adults we are bombarded with dishonesty, double standards, maladaptive cultural memes, and the assault on language, of which politics and major corporations are very guilty.

So in the short-term, we have a lot of cobwebs to clear out from our subconscious recesses. We have to make sure that the subliminal messaging all over the TV and even the internet isn’t latching onto our beliefs about how things really are out there in the world. We have to make sure that we are thinking for ourselves, taking enough time for solitude, and not conforming just because it’s easy to follow the cultural herd.

In the short-term, we have our work cut out for us. I would say, that hard work is reason enough for us to get upset every now and then, wouldn’t you? It’s enough to make us go crazy even, depending on how deep down the rabbit hole we are willing to go.

The dysfunctional systems in our world easily create enough fodder for us to do exactly that which the video tries to ridicule. The dysfunctional systems in our world almost ensure that we:

    1) Cling to entitlement — by raising our expectations of who and what we associate with, so that we do not waste our precious resources on people or things that do not serve us, or at least serve our personal growth or help us achieve our goals in life
    2) Take things personally — when people or organizations are out to hurt, judge, take advantage, or mislead us
    3) Focus on the problems that exist in the world and our lives — some of which only seem to be getting worse
    4) Magnify negative or painful situations; “magnify” being relative to those who choose to minimize things painful situations — because if we don’t listen when we feel violated by others, no one else can look out for us
    5) Temporarily lose sight of what’s good in life — when we focus on the problems that we need to become aware of before we can fix them

It’s only after we let ourselves get triggered by all that fodder, and after we let ourselves get in touch with our true emotional reactions to it, that we can hope to transmute the pain, fear, and anger into growth, courage, and compassion.

“5 Ways to Misery” can translate to “5 Roundabout Ways to Emotional Intelligence”

In the long-term, we sometimes need to go through #1-5 before we can replace our imbalanced belief systems (that give cause for those acts) with balanced, emotionally intelligent ones.

It takes time and a lot of practice, so be patient with yourself. “5 Ways to Misery” may seem to pave a true path to misery. But in the long-term, if you are willing to work constructively with your emotions, then those five ways will help you transcend society’s definition of responsibility or righteousness. Through in transcendence, you can accept yourself into wholeness and live a happier, healthier life.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shannon Cruzan January 11, 2011 at 1:26 am

The truly narcissistic personalities are sure to take the intended advice as being applicable to many OTHER people they know; those who could best benefit from ANY advice are the first ones to point out who, besides them, should have been made to watch this video.

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