Decades ago, it was only IQ that was thought to be the only valid form of intelligence. Then fast forward to 1990s and we were introduced to the concept of emotional intelligence – we were told that how we manage our emotions could potentially be even more important than our IQ. And then came 2000, our understanding of the facets of intelligence was further broadened when the idea of spiritual intelligence emerged.
But what exactly is spiritual quotient (SQ)? And why is SQ even more important in today’s era? How can our understanding of SQ help us in addressing modern-day problems such as insensitivity – or even terrorism?
The origin of the term
The term spiritual intelligence and spiritual quotient is mostly attributed to Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall based on their pioneering book, SQ: Connecting with Our Spiritual Intelligence. They describe SQ as ‘our most fundamental intelligence. It is what we use to develop our capacity for meaning, vision and value. It allows us to dream and to strive. It underlies the things we believe in and the role our beliefs and values play in the actions that we take. Spiritual Intelligence explores how accessing our SQ helps us to live up to our potential for better, more satisfying lives.’
Three aspects of spirituality
- Responsibility – You might have asked yourself what is your purpose in life or who are you responsible for. Thinking about these makes us realise that we should have a vision of how we are to spend our lives. After all, we are not here forever and we should make some form of contribution to the next generation.
- Humility – When you think about it, we are just a speck in the universe. We are just one of the 7 billion people on Earth; just one among those 108 billion people who have ever lived. So what makes us think that our existence is more important than others?
- Happiness – The world has progressed and it has offered us convenience. But can we truly say that we are a lot happier now. What exactly are the things that make us happy? We all want to be happy. But how, exactly, do you go about it?
Difference between IQ, EQ and SQ
- IQ – Intelligence quotient is an attempt to gauge human intelligence. While people have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses, psychologists have found that there is a common component called ‘general intelligence’ or ‘G’. General intelligence has been defined in various ways. But I personally prefer this definition of Robert Feldman: ‘the capacity to understand the world, think rationally, and use resources effectively when faced with challenges’.
- EQ – Emotional quotient is your way of managing your own emotion in positive ways so you could effectively deal with the vicissitudes of life. It was developed by Daniel Goleman in the mid-1990s. Studies reveal that those with EQ scores find it easier to create interpersonal relationships and to fit into group situations. People with higher emotional intelligence are also better at understanding their own psychological state, which can include managing stress effectively and being less likely to suffer from depression.
- SQ – Spiritual quotient is going beyond your cognitive and emotional skills. It is acknowledging your mortality and thinking of what you could offer humanity. It is living in humility; bearing in mind that you are just a tiny compared to the vastness of the universe. A robust understanding of SQ motivates people to balance their work commitments, time with family and inner growth.
Developing your SQ
When it comes to spirituality, it’s quite common to divide people into two categories; believers and non-believers but this is a false categorisation because everyone believes in ‘something’. As an atheist, I personally believe that you don’t need to believe in God, or read your Bible or Quran to lead a spiritually-charged life. I believe that humans are built-in with spirituality within our core. We are spiritual beings, after all.
Owen Water, in his book The Shift: The Revolution in Human Consciousness explains that there are six basic stages of human development followed by 6 spiritual stages. Once the basic stages are completed, you move into the spiritual tier and your progress becomes much more focused because, at that point, you have gained a sense of the reason for human existence.
Healing the world with spirituality
In today’s era that is filled with hatred and insensitivity, perhaps a little dose of understanding about our own spiritual dimension would all do us some good. And as Barbara Sargent, elegantly puts it: ‘Through contemplative practices and spiritual aspiration, we can learn to live in closer relationship with this most deep and unique aspect of ourselves, this place where inner guidance can come through when we need it most.
The more we meditate with love, and work upon ourselves with compassion, the more our personal impurities, both conscious and unconscious, will gradually leave us and be replaced by the growing energies of real love and understanding.’
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He writes for the American Psychological Association and has a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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