Over time, Google has evolved from a search engine to many other things – from email to video, from self-driven cars to self-driven people. There is no one face of Google. One area that Google is putting a lot of time and effort into is the area of the understanding of the human mind and human behavior to achieve higher performance and also peace within individuals – which hopefully will eventually permeate globally, therefore achieving world-peace.
The understanding of human behavior comes from a branch of psychology called emotional intelligence. Why are emotional skills important? They are important because they are integral to achieving:
- For Superior Performance.
- Great leadership.
- Sustained happiness.
This is the goal behind Google’s Emotional Intelligence curriculum based on mindfulness. The course book and the course are titled Search Inside Yourself (SIY).
The idea behind SIY is to motivate individuals to better their emotional skills so that they find the efforts rewarding not only to enhance their career but also to achieve inner peace. This course provides tools and techniques that are scientifically proven. The idea of greater financial reward is the hook to draw people (and corporations) in – people who may normally not be motivated by just the idea of inner peace and happiness. Who among the mortals will shy away from a technique that will help you make more money and also give you greater peace.
What is Emotional Intelligence and why is it Important to Lead a Successful and Peaceful Life?
Self-awareness, calm and confident in crisis, optimism, resilience, better understanding of people, ability to like people – all these qualities fall under a branch of science called emotional intelligence (EI). The definition of EI is:
“Ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”.
These qualities are skills – and like all skills – these skills are learnable and trainable. Therefore, with training emotional skills can be improved.
If we can master our emotional skills through the science of emotional intelligence, we are on the road to becoming better at work and career but also in life. As we understand ourselves and others better, the understanding will potentially lead to less conflict and therefore greater harmony and peace.
Proof that Emotional Skills Help Achieve Superior Performance, Great Leadership and Happiness –
Google conducted a study on high-performing software engineers. The study determined that there were 6 factors that distinguished high-performing Google software engineers. Of the 6 factors, only two were related to intellect. The other four were related to emotional intelligence.
The emotional intelligence curriculum through mindfulness that Google teaches, which is now available in a book with the same name, rests on the fact that EI can be trained.
How do you improve/train emotional intelligence ?
You can learn about EI by reading books, but in order to learn EI you have to practice – similar to any physical exercise.
What are we training? We are training the brain. The fact that the brain can be trained comes from another branch of science called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the mind to change in structure and function through what we pay attention too.
Three Steps to train the brain:
- Attention Training 2. Self-knowledge and self-mastery 3. Create useful mental habits.
Attention Training: What has attention got to do with emotional intelligence? The attention improvement stems from creating a quality of mind that allows you to be calm and clear and also access this quality on demand. Focused attention leads to greater concentration. This clear and crisp mind can be focused to achieve greater emotional intelligence.
How do you train this quality of mind? This is very simple. This has actually been practiced for thousands of years. The practice is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, for a purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. You can start in as little as 10 seconds. As an example, pay attention to your process of breathing. Just pay attention to every physical aspect of breathing from inhaling to exhaling. If the attention wanders away, just bring it back. This 10 second process of paying attention to breathing is a type of mindfulness training.
If it so easy what wonders can it do? It’s like lifting a dumbbell. Done repeatedly, this will develop strength, which can help you do things that you never imagined.
- Quality of perception changes – you see more clarity –
- Calms the mind –
Perception of threat – Amygdala takes over the executive (or the thinking part of the brain). The brain doesn’t think – it just responds.
If the Amygdala triggers every time, there could be much tension surrounding that person. With mindfulness, we can down regulate the amygdala – therefore creating a much more calm environment.
It has been proven that you do not need 10,000 hours to have a measurable effect on the mind. According to Meng at Google, mere 100 minutes is where things start to happen. Mindfulness grounds the mind.
Self-Knowledge and Self-Mastery: Resolution and vividness (brightness and contrast). You will see information that you did not see before. When you have training in mindfulness, your attention becomes not only calm but also very sharp. What does that mean? First thing it does is increases the resolution at which you perceive the process of emotion. Resolution has two dimensions: spatial and temporal. Spatial dimension means that you are able to perceive changes in the emotional process that you never noticed before. Temporal resolution is the ability to see changes of small deltas in time. Combining this together, you will acquire the ability to see an emotion the moment it is arising and the moment it is ceasing and all the tiny changes in-between. The mind becomes highly attuned.
What is vividness? Vividness is when you increase the signal to noise ratio. Parts of the emotional process that were almost hidden from view begin becoming seen
The combination of resolution and vividness will help an individual gain useful information about oneself.
At this point, you start seeing yourself objectively. Almost like a third person. “I feel angry” as opposed to “I am angry”. Once anger becomes something external – then that can be changed.
Insula on both sides of the brain are related to bodily sensation, especially visceral sensations (sensations inside the chest and stomach). The second thing it’s correlated to is awareness of emotions. And the third thing it is related to is empathy. People who have strong insula are strong in all three dimensions. It turns out that the insula can be trained. The way to do that is to pay attention to the body. If you do that often enough, you become aware of yourself and your emotions. What does this mean to you? The degree of self-awareness can create profound changes in life. If you can see emotion arising, you have the power to turn it off if you want to. That way you are making rational decisions. You have a choice.
Create Useful Mental Habit: Obtain habits that are conducive for social skillfulness. The first habit is the habit of loving-kindness. The idea is that every time you look at a person, you want that person to be happy. If you have that mental habit, it changes everything. For example if you go into a meeting room thinking that you want everyone in that room to be happy, it reflects in your being, unconsciously. It reflects in your body, your face, your language, your tone of voice, and your facial expression. This “aura” is picked up unconsciously by the other person. Their feeling could then be the same towards you. They somehow start liking you – without knowing why. And now you have a situation for collaboration rather than conflict. This could result in the fact that now people want to work with you. This inevitably leads to success.
The second habit is the “habit of human similarity” – in three specific dimensions. Here are the three dimensions.
- This is a human being just like me 2. this person wants to be happy just like me, and 3. this person wants to be free from suffering just like me.
This habit is especially significant in a situation of conflict. It changes how you react to the situation. It changes how we solve problems. More importantly, it creates a greater possibility of solving problems. Good problem solvers are usually successful people.
Over a thousand Google employees have already taken this SIY training internally. There is a waiting list of new students clamoring to take the course. The inner-workings of the course is also available in a book written by Chade Ming Tan – the architect behind this concept of mindfulness-based emotional intelligence curriculum. Seek success in life and obtain inner peace. The synergy of which among humans will set the conditions for global peace.