The virtue of Humanity

Emotional Intelligence

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion” 

Dale Carnegie
Silent LANGUAGE of feeling

People use language to express how they are feeling. They use body language, which is often more telling than the words they use. This is what I refer to as the third level of communication. An instinctual conversation you can have with someone that goes beyond words and behaviour.

A type of exchange that takes your understanding to an almost psychic level. The way you know your mom is feeling sad when you phone. Sure, the tone of her voice is a sign, but there is something else, something you cannot explain, and that to me is EMOTIONAL intelligence. 

Tricky definition

The research defines emotional intelligence as a person skilled in understanding, interpreting, and experiencing emotions. We do not limit this ability to the person’s own emotions, but the emotions of others. 

Seems like a simple enough definition, right? Spoiler alert! It is not simple. 

Understanding others

Let us start with the easier part. I say easier because it is still difficult. Understanding another person’s emotions. To be cognizant of how they are feeling, but also how to react to their emotions. Here we need to take a moment to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is the ability to feel for others. Knowing that a person is suffering with the loss of a loved one. Empathy is a much stronger emotion. This happens when you can put yourself in another person’s position and understand the feelings they feel from their perspective. 

Few people can be of empathetic. Empathy is the ultimate form of emotional intelligence. When you are empathic your thoughts regarding another’s emotions are only all about them. Nothing else. If you make it about you, about how you consider the situation or your opinion on that emotion, you are in fact not being empathetic but only sympathetic. Therefore, emotional intelligence is a strength. Anyone can do it, but it takes dedication and practice.  

It is not you it is me

I said it is weird that understanding another person’s emotions is easier than understanding how you are feeling. At a basic level, most of us can be sympathetic. This is because we as human beings are TERRIBLE at understanding emotions. We flunk at it.

I can hear some of you disagree, well let me pop your emotional bubble for you, you too my friend. We all do.

in the pursuit of happiness

My sister’s death has reminded me of how true my previous statement is. How despite all my studies and degrees, I still forget that emotions are nothing more than feelings. They are not all good; they are not all bad. Just like people. Happiness is the popular kid. We want to be friends with him. Hanging out with happiness every day is not great. Eventually it gets old, and you go back to a state of neutrality. There is a fancy term for this, but I won’t bore you with the details. Happiness is only an emotion. We strive towards happiness, but that is an impossible and pointless quest. 

In the company of sadness

Sadness is the school weirdo. Someone we try to avoid or when we do get stuck in a conversation with them, we try to get out of it. Instead of trying to understand sadness, appreciate its purpose and allow it to flow over us until it moves on. It is only an emotion. It has every right to be in our company just as much as any other feeling. 

Grief has been overwhelming me in waves of emotion and has left me rather paralysed. I have been suppressing so many emotions for so long, and now they are all here. They have all come to my house simultaneously, and they are trashing the place. That is what emotions do. If you do not give them the time and space they deserve, they catch up with you later and then they cripple you. 

The uncomfortable truth

We cannot control emotions, and in our effort to control them, we hurt ourselves. Let the emotions come. Acknowledge them. Learn from them and then let them flow over you. This is where mindfulness is such an important coping tool. Go to my mindfulness exercise if you are not familiar with mindfulness.

Being honest with yourself

This time during COVID you have been experiencing a wide range of emotions. I wonder whether you have been paying each one its due. I hope that as you try to be more emotionally intelligent, you will.

One last thing, I would not be me if I did not drag Winnie the Pooh into this. Think of emotions as characters and perhaps they will be less scary. Piglet is fear, Eeyore is sadness, Rabbit is disappointment, Pooh is confusion, Kanga is acceptance, Roo is happiness and Tigger is excitement. Do not believe me? Go read the stories.

Till next week…


The virtue of Humanity


“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free”.

Maya Angelou
Where do I begin?

This strength is certainly a topic that needs no introduction. Many songs, poems and movies have been written about love. Love motivates people. Even as you are reading this the faces are formulating in the back of your mind. It is the most natural thing to do. It is not a choice. You cannot pinpoint the moment you decided to love someone, only the moment you realised that you did.

Tell you a story?

Two weeks ago, my focus on this strength would have been different. I would have told you about how my husband is the great love of my life. The first time I met him I suddenly knew what it was to love another person. I loved him so honestly that I did not care whether he loved me back. I would have been happy just to be in his friend zone. My love, however, was reciprocated, and that was the deepest blessing. Our children are the living embodiments of that love and they always will be loved unconditionally.

How long does it last?

But two weeks ago, my sister was still alive. Two weeks ago, I understood the theory behind this strength, but I did not entirely appreciate its power. Today I do, and it is a humbling experience. The death of my sister has forced me to re-evaluate all that I have taken for granted. I grew up in a very loving and close family. My childhood was practically idyllic. So, I could be forgiven for never having had to question love before. I adore my parents, and I am always confident in the notion they love me. The same goes for my sisters (of which I have three). Then my youngest sister dies and I am suddenly left with all these overwhelming feelings with no means of expressing them to her.

It is Eternal

We were always very close and often told each other that, but now in her death, I feel as if that it was not enough. It became something we said. It did not express the depth of what my feelings meant. Love is about valuing the significance of another person’s existence. This is important because when they die, they leave behind a hole that no one can fill. This is the true beauty of this strength. It forms a part of your body. It physically can not diminish. It can only grow or change.

Its Physics

Didn’t Newton or one of his genius friends have a similar law about energy? If I recall it was basically that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred or transformed. Well, the same goes for love.

Say it loud and proud

If I could have that one last conversation with my sister, that one last goodbye, I would have said: “you are beloved”. I would have said, you change how I see the world and for that I am grateful. Your presence and vibrance gave me the courage and security to ask you, to tell you or even share with you my vulnerabilities. I am never alone because you comfort me even when you are far away. I cherish every characteristic that makes you you, even the parts of you that drive me nuts. Circumstances change, we grow, we experience, but the one thing that remains constant is that my love for you is unconditional and absolute. I honour you in everything I do without even thinking about it.

A Lesson learnt

That is what I have learnt about love. I wish I had known this two weeks ago, but I did not. I spoke to her a few hours before she died not understanding that I would never speak to her again, and as we ended off our call I said, “I love you” and now that will have to suffice.

I will not, however, miss the opportunity to tell those who are alive now what their presence means to me. My parents, my family, my friends and you, my dear reader. You may or may not be a stranger to me, but I value you. Your invisible presence inspires me. I cherish your patience that I may share my thoughts with you. Similarly, I look forward to reading your respected feedback.

Now it is up to you

It is 1 am right now. I am exhausted but thrilled to share my experience of love with you. In my posts I may make suggestions, I may invite you to do things, but tonight I will beg you, do not take love for granted. Love yourself for all you are worth and for all your flaws. Love those around you, because they are lovable. Love humanity, because every soul out there just wants to be loved.

Tenderness takes so much less energy than hate, and it is far more rewarding. It is something we give freely without expectation or disappointment. Always speak from a place of love. At all times, listen from a place of love.

Finally, in all that you do, whether mundane or profound, do it with love. ‘Oh, Bear!’ said Christopher Robin. ‘How I do love you!’ ‘So do I,’ said Pooh’ (Milne, 2006, p. 64). Go with love…. because, once it is all gone, love remains. Goodnight.

The virtue of Humanity


Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

kindness Fan club

This is not going to be a big surprise to my loyal blog readers (thanks mom 😉), but I am a HUGE FAN of kindness. But I mean like Fan Club President kind of fan. Also, of Keanu Reeves, but mainly kindness. If only people were kind so many problems would be solved.

killing hate with kindness

One of my pet hates, and one of the main reasons I am not on a lot of social media sites are these “I speak my mind” memes and gifs. You just know that person does not mean they go around telling people kind things about themselves. They are proud of the fact that they call people out on whatever it is this woke nation thinks they need to yell about. Before you get your knickers in a knot, I am not saying people should be bigots or cruel. I am categorically stating the opposite. I am also just saying that hypocrisy is not kind. Opposing “haters” serves no purpose if you do so by stooping to their level of unkindness and nastiness. You must be kind in all acts, otherwise, your kindness is just an act.

more about my quote

It is ironic that my quote is by a Roman Philosopher who was implicated in a plot to kill the emperor, Nero. He was therefore forced to kill himself by slitting his major arteries.  History has proven him innocent, but still, a man who advocated for kindness met such an unkind end. That is often the price of kindness to the individual. To society, however, kindness is contagious.  If you are always kind, you will most often not receive kindness in return, but people who witness your behaviour will be inspired to do the same and therein lies your intrinsic reward.

An example of the power of kindess

I have a vegan friend who always brings vegan treats when she visits or invites us over for delicious vegan meals. She has also invited me on many vegan-friendly shopping trips. Through her kindness, not her criticism, I have implemented many of her habits into my family’s daily lives. We have cut back on our animal product consumption significantly. Hardcore vegans out there will say cutting back is not enough. I do not argue the validity of the statement. Yet my friend achieves more lasting transformation through her gentleness than all the shock campaigns put together. We have been friends for years. I have changed the way I clean my house. My beauty regime has completely changed. Also I am more aware of what or how I cook.

So what is kindness?

Well, for starters, kindness is not letting people use you as a doormat. Boundaries are not unkind if they are implemented kindly. Say no politely, not apologetically. Tell abusers assertively that their harsh words are not appreciated, without stooping to their level.  You can politely sever ties with unkind people without being unkind yourself. Forgiveness is a separate conversation that we will get into later.

Research definitions

Research defines kindness as the conviction that other people are worthy of your attention. There is no expectation of gain or reciprocity, and it goes beyond principle-based respect of humanity. In good citizenship, I said, do not be an A-hole (which is a nice place to start in any case). Kindness takes that notion one step further as actively thinking about ways you can be uplifting to someone. Compliment someone on their new profile picture, take an interest in an uninteresting person.

During Corona

During all this social distancing, think less about how quickly you can get through the queues and rather look to see who is in the queue behind you. Perhaps a pregnant woman, or someone elderly, let them go ahead of you. Go shopping on behalf of someone who can’t. All that panic buying people were doing was the very definition of being unkind. Patience, compromise, diplomacy, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, letting go of trivial things, all of that is being kind. Be considerate even when you are stressed or in a rush and see how it changes the world around you. You will be surprised.

Kindness starts at home

One way to implement kindness in your home during isolation is to encourage the kids to clean each other’s rooms or let them suggest activities their siblings might enjoy. If they try to sneak their own favourite pastimes in there, gently guide them into thinking more deeply. Lead by example, “hey guys why don’t we let daddy pick the movie tonight” and silently pray that daddy knows better than to pick some gory horror movie. It will not kill you to sit through one plotless-talentless testosterone-driven-dialogueless-mind-numbingly clichéd action movie. Sure, it is painful, but look at the joy it brings to the one you love and focus on that.

Winnie the Pooh and Friends

My go-to friends in the hundred-acre woods are consistently kind to one another.  I think my favourite example is when Pooh and Piglet decide that because it is so cold, Eeyore needs a house.  Thus, they build him a house of sticks in a wind-sheltered part of the forest. Granted that pile of sticks was in actual fact Eeyore’s house. There was also a brief moment of panic when he could not find his house, but it all worked out in the end. Eeyore had a warmer home to live in. What pile of metaphorical sticks can you re-arrange for your housemates or friends?

Go forth and be aware of opportunities for kindness. Awareness is like avoiding Lego blocks in the dark; keep your eyes peeled.

For more ideas, try this week’s activity for the virtue of humanity.