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It directly influences the content and quality of every moment that you live. We needn't consider ourselves to be religious in order to invite prayer into our lives. In my eyes, prayers of love, gratitude and care are powerful, healing energetic frequencies that do count, and do make a real difference to our own lives, the lives of those with whom we share our world, and our beautiful earth. It takes a dark sky to enjoy the sparkle of a star. It takes pressure to cut the faces of a diamond so that it may sparkle. Our lives are inevitably coloured by changes in tone and mood. There are days we feel happier than others for reasons of all kinds, but even in our harder moments we give ourselves an enormous gift by remembering that we are still happy, always happy, simply by being alive. In his beautiful book No Mud No Lotus Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that, like lotus flowers blossoming from the mud, we human beings may rise from the `mud' of our lives, such as challenges, hardships or messy times we face, to flower magnificently. Indeed, a lotus blossom utilises and requires mud in order to thrive, flourish and grow all the more beautiful. While we are not born to suffer, life guarantees that we experience the lessons perfectly designed to enable us to grow. The most un-worthy moments in our lives can take us to new heights of sparkling we never knew were possible. How do emotional deficiencies impact expectations and ultimately hinder personal development? To begin with, consider the well-known maternal deprivation studies within the field of psychology, such as "Maternal Deprivation 1972--1978" by Michael Rutter. This research was not initially designed to highlight the significance of emotional intelligence. However, the findings are central to explaining the importance of learning, interpreting, and utilizing the art of human emotion in everyday life. For example, in a particularly notable research video clip produced by George Manson University and Rachel Lin Spring (2013) that examines the impact of interpersonal relations, a mother and her child are shown playing innocently. During the film, a researcher instructs the mother to stop responding to her infant. Initially the child laughs, waves, and motions, trying in vain to get her mother's attention and affection. Later, after realizing that no amount of attempted interactions will draw her mother back in, the dejected child responds to the mother's cold behavior by withdrawing quietly, pouting, and trembling. Although this example may seem simplistic, the underlying message is extraordinarily clear.

Human beings are programmed from birth to use emotions and to express feelings, wants, and desires. People are also wired to respond to emotional cues; even infants who are not yet able to speak have the mental capacity to interpret emotions on a basic level. In a very straightforward way, the maternal deprivation example illustrates the importance of emotional intelligence in building a happy, healthy life. In other words: Who are you? What's your DNA? Sure, biologically we're all more or less the same. We all have organs, bones, blood, nerves. We also all die. Why is self-knowledge important? I never had a clue. In all my years in school, no one ever talked about knowing yourself and why it matters. But it turns out that a lack of self-knowledge is the reason why I made the wrong decisions in my life. Today, I know myself better than I did ten years ago. And in ten years from now, I'll know myself better than I do today. Knowing yourself is step one. Step two is acting on that knowledge. Sometimes opportunities come my way and I feel like saying yes too quickly. But I have to take a step back. And ask myself: Is this really me? Very often, the answer is no.

I've found that most things in life are not for me. Most jobs, opportunities, countries, people, parties, lifestyles, books--they're all not for me. It's about finding the things that are for me. Believe it or not, that's a very small list. Intensely focusing on tasks getting done is part of your nature, and like me in graduate school, you might appear to be in overdrive. There's little relaxation or hang time in either perfectly hidden depression or the hypomanic stage of bipolar II. Yet, someone with bipolar II disorder may experience an over-the-top energy, tinged with anxiety and agitation, and then slide into a sadness or depression. The swing is noticeable to others and affects that person's daily functioning. Those with perfectly hidden depression don't swing into obvious depression. Nor do they feel grandiose. Neither would be allowed. If you identify with this cycle, then you need to talk with a mental health professional to determine these distinctions. Remember as well that you could identify with perfectly hidden depression and still have some bipolar II traits. Please educate yourself and seek help. Time for a reality check. Since I tend to speak a great deal about your being responsible for the way your life works, you would probably assume that I would vote for the internalizer as the person most likely to succeed on the road to authenticity. It is true, as I've said many times, that you create your own experience. I strongly believe that most things in your life are internally controlled. But I also trust that, in reading this chapter, you've spotted the defects in every locus of control. Neither the externalizer, the chance person, nor the internalizer can claim to have the perfect viewpoint.

There are flaws inherent in all three. For example, a woman is not to blame when her husband abandons her and their three children to run off with some cute bimbo at the office and does so without any warning whatsoever. His spineless, immature, and cruel conduct is not a matter of her control or responsibility. If she's sitting around a year later, still numb with grief, saying, "It's my fault," then something is wrong with her perceptions. She is inappropriately internalizing. She's taking ownership of behavior that isn't hers. Yes, I believe anyone's authentic self is one in which you would naturally want to take control of your life and your reactions to the events that happen to you, but be realistic about what you can control and what you can't. Traditional Japanese ceramicists would fill cracks in their sculptures with gold. Rather than being viewed as mistakes, these gold-filled details were seen as essential parts of the object's originality and beauty - its unique magnificence. What if we were to visualise the cracks we have felt in our own lives, our own selves, filled with gold? To see them as precious parts of ourselves worthy of our loving appreciation? How differently we would see ourselves. The past is over, the future is not yet here. We are not damaged, we are healing. Life moves us forward with each moment. Each night the sparkling stars create a spectacular vision in the deep night sky. Each morning the sun rises to light up the dark. In this ever-steady rhythm we can take faith. When we possess a base awareness of being part of a greater movement of life in which we all effortlessly belong, in which the sunshine follows the rain, in which light eclipses the dark, in which we are together and at home in nature, we can find courage. Plato taught that courage is fear holding on a moment longer.

Indeed, patience and reverence are qualities that see us through, allowing us like stars to sparkle in the darkness until the sun rises again. So, what is emotional intelligence, why is it important, and why should you care? Put simply, emotional intelligence "is 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" (Salovey & Mayer). If the import of this idea isn't immediately apparent, then think about the last time you got an e-mail that was frustratingly incomprehensible because it lacked obvious emotional cues. Was the sender sincere or sarcastic? Were they sharing news or trying to provide instructions? Without the emotional signals to provide context, there is little to be gained from even the most basic of exchanges. The term emotional intelligence may be new to you, or it may be something you encountered in school, in your profession, or in your life experiences. Even if you are not familiar with the concept, chances are you've utilized emotional intelligence. Whether you are persuading a child that he should feel guilty about breaking a friend's toy, or you're trying to teach a coworker the importance of a critical project, emotional intelligence is a part of daily life for most individuals, whether consciously or subconsciously. I just make sure I invest my money instead of spending it. Investing money is not only about investing in the stock market or in real estate. I have no problem paying three grand for a new laptop because it's a tool I use to do my job, and that makes me money. Also, I'm never cheap when it comes to buying important things. I'd rather buy a good jacket that lasts years than buy a cheap one that I have to replace next year. Simply put, I don't buy things I don't need. I don't need a new iPhone every year. I also don't need five thousand dollar shoes. But that doesn't mean I own only one pair of shoes. I simply don't buy everything I like.