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Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Having read about a dozen or so self help books, I can warrant that almost all of them boil down to “it is all in your head”, that whatever is holding you back is nothing more than a mental block. What irks me is that even after pin-pointing the problem they seldom talk about handling that defeatist thought process or about improving the numerous shortcomings. At best they ‘pull off a Peale’ and would suggest you start practicing a religion and have faith. Not that I am against it, but you know what they say, “God helps those who help themselves”, and that is the quote that captures the essence of using this book which doesn’t even fall in the proper self help genre per se.

Written in a matter of fact manner and never trying to induce motivation in the reader, it talks in depth about the factors and events that shaped human (and at times animal) behavior over the ages to the way the way it is now. It offers numerous insights to what is happening to your brain at the neuron level while also dotted with case studies and theories of other prominent psychologists.

Despite not being a self help book, it does exceedingly well at the task of developing the reader’s meta-cognition, or the ability to be aware of his/her own emotion, thereby empowering you to nip self-destructive emotions before they bloom into a never-ending cycle of apprehension, misery and melancholy of varying degrees and take one step towards exercising the control of your own mind.

The first few chapters might be a little daunting for readers with no background in human anatomy, but please bear with it as it soon turns to an incredibly insightful journey of your own mind. The later chapters focus on all major emotions and their functioning and answer numerous fundamental questions like the best way to handle anger, how to overcome depression and so forth etc.

The catch is that the book does not spell those answers out for you that way. The author would talk about a particular aspect of human behavior in a chapter and provide abundant facts and stats related to handling of that emotion. The onus is upon you to help yourself from there.


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