I’m reading Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself: The unexpected path to achieving success, happiness (and world peace). Meng, who was employee #107 at Google and now leads the Search Inside Yourself Institute, combines mindfulness practice with emotional intelligence (a la Daniel Goleman).
We use mindfulness to train a quality of attention that is strong in both clarity and stability. We then direct this power-charged attention to physiological aspects of emotion so we can perceive emotion with high vividness and resolution. The ability to perceive emotional experience at a high level of clarity and resolution builds the foundation for emotional intelligence, and we live happily ever after.
some definitions that are helpful here:
Emotional intelligence is trainable because of our brain’s neuroplasticity. The science says we are what we think, plan, and do – meaning it changes our brains.
Clarity and Stability
Meng teaches mindfulness meditation as a way to train the attention for clarity and stability – the ability to examine our thoughts and emotions from a third party perspective, not identifying with them, not getting swept away by them, and not judging them or ourselves for having them. Within that, Meng speaks of a few specific skills:
Response flexibility – the official term for being able to pause before you act, Viktor Frankl style. This is a trait of the clear and stable mind.
Affect labeling – labeling feelings with words. When we label emotions, we can manage them better, another skill built up through mindfulness.
Physiological aspects of emotion
Apparently every emotion has a physical signature. The physical signature is a great way to notice emotions as they arise, so we can manage them better.
Your perception of your emotions becomes “so refined across time and space that you can watch an emotion as it arises, perceive (its changes), and watch it as it (subsides).”
Basically, he’s teaching the ability to create the conditions for happiness, which is a by-product of emotional intelligence, through a “subtle understanding of how the mind functions”.
This approach is new to me, and I’m loving it so far. Plus, Meng is an engineer by trade and at heart, so he gets me.