The “Emotionally Intelligent” Brain: How Meditation Boosts EQ
The "Emotionally Intelligent" TPJ — How Meditation Boosts EQ
What's Better, IQ or EQ?
"IQ gets you hired. EQ gets you promoted." — Time Magazine
What's the most accurate "successful career" forecasting metric? Is it how much of a "smarty-smartpants" we are? Once upon a time, just about every scientist would have answered yes, "IQ" determines how high we can can soar.
Got a perfect SAT score? The CEO's corner office has your name on it. You can memorize 1,000 digits of Pi? There is a senate seat waiting for you. Solve a rubix cube in 6.54 seconds? You are on track to head NASA. Does this happen in the real world? No.
Today, we know better. It's not the super-geniuses that ascend to the top of their respective fields. How high we soar and how far we go has a far more accurate crystal ball.
In 1996, a world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Daniel Goleman, published a groundbreaking book that turned the psychological community on its head.
The Power Of Emotional Intelligence
In his New York Times international bestseller "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than IQ," Dr. Goleman's case for "EQ over IQ" was so compelling that academic textbooks had to be rewritten in his name.
So, what kind of characteristics do these folks display? People high on the EQ chart tend to be masters of both work and play. They usually have prosperous careers, long-lasting, fulfilling relationships, and tons of friends. They are often generous, empathic, self-motivated, with the ability to love and be loved.
Since we aren't born with a fixed amount of this elusive characteristic, figuring out how to "fill up the old EQ tank" has been of particular interest to psychologists in recent years. After all, who doesn't want to be more popular and successful?
How Meditation Builds A Bigger, More Emotionally Intelligent Brain
In 2013, with the goal of mapping out the "EQ" regions of the brain, University of Illinois researchers CT-scanned 152 Vietnam veterans engaging in "emotionally intelligent" centered activities, like (in-person) social interaction.
A landmark finding, the brain map imaging showed one particular region, the "temporoparietal junction (TPJ)," to be especially important. Dubbed the so called EQ "command and control center," figuring out how to strengthen this area of the brain would, in effect, power up emotional intelligence.
"I would love to be popular and successful. But I think my EQ and therefore, my TPJ might be weak. Should I get a brain transplant?"
Save yourself the headache. Meditation's got you covered.
In 2016, a team of Spanish and German researchers (Yang et al) fMRI imaged the brains of 13 meditation newbies before and after 40 days of mindfulness training. What did they find?
In addition to massively reducing their anxiety and depression scores (as illustrated by countless other studies), the meditators' had, in just six short weeks, significantly increased the "internal consistency" of their temporoparietal junction (TPJ).
The Coolest Of The Cool
For those of us looking to climb the career ladder, master social grace, and just do better at life, what does this mean?
By strengthening the brain's "EQ command & control center," meditation opens the door to a wonderful and especially important bundle of traits: self-awareness, adaptability, empathy, conscientiousness, self-motivation, emotional balance, the list goes on.
Meditators have been the coolest of the cool for millennia, now confirmed by science.