It has been said that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time, and still be able to function. For example, one would recognize the absence of hope and still be grateful to be alive. Rather than insist on what should be, one surrenders to a living relationship with what is. There is no glorified “me” to enforce so emotions move freely, and we get to bear witness to nature’s unfolding.
Throughout the day, there are chores one must accept and celebrations we get to relish. A life that overflows with vitality tends to net more celebrations, and gratitude is the groovy tune as language tangos with emotion. For example, consider how our attention is colored by “I get to,” “I better,” and “I have to”. “I better wash the dishes” produces a slightly different emotion than “I have to wash the dishes.” Same activity, different emotional trail. “I have to meet with my team” is much different than “I get to meet with my team.” It is a practice of thought and each directs our attention to a different set of details. Emotional intelligence is a function of how we pay attention.
Being authentic means being true to what inspires you and what turns you on about the world. Mustering up the best version of ourselves means maintaining a level of appreciation throughout a single day. There’s no substitute for this level of self-awareness and it is easy to know what lights you up. When we’re grateful we’re not overloaded with misfit expectations. We rejoice in what is. When intimately connected with our source of vitality, we don’t worry about not having enough. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Vitality never takes.”