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Living a life of purpose

Evolution endowed man with a bigger brain and evolved intelligence. This intellect helped him survive tough times as hunter-gatherer. Giving him the ability to move, socialise, empathise and think, it helped man become all that he is today. Since early on, man has consciously strived to understand this ability and develop it.

In the early days, he focused on developing his physical (kinaesthetic) intelligence measured by the Physical Quotient (PQ). This allowed him to use his body skilfully and thereby meet his physiological needs as put forth by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his theory of hierarchy of needs.

Later, man went on to hone his intellectual, logical and problem-solving skills which is measured by the Intellectual Quotient (IQ). To protect himself from predators, he invented fire, to travel faster, he invented the wheel, to predict the weather, he studied the stars, so on and so forth. Over a course of time, thanks to his IQ, he made tremendous progress. He even climbed to the top of the food chain and fulfilled his need for safety.

Eventually, he realised IQ alone wasn’t enough. He needed something else to keep a check on his emotions, as he recognised that his progress stumbled when his emotions ran amok. He termed this intelligence as emotional intelligence and quantified it using the Emotional Quotient (EQ). This intelligence helped him develop his intuition, empathise and form genuine connections. Above all else, a high EQ also promised him social success—he could influence his peers effectively, giving him a scope to be led a community, society, etc. By integrating EQ with IQ and PQ, man developed an intellect that helped him settle down, start families and build communities.

With time, he laid special emphasis on IQ and EQ. These factors helped him develop and live in advanced societies. Today, he earns money, finds love and climbs the rungs of power and fame. But he is yet to fulfil all his needs in the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy. As Maslow himself wrote in his book Towards a Psychology of Being, less than one percent of mankind manages to achieve self-actualisation—the ultimate need to realise himself for who he truly is and be all that. As esoteric as it may sound, this need stems from his deep desire to find answers to existential questions—who is he? Why was he born? What’s the purpose, and to what end?

Most of the times, we are left wondering why is it so hard to achieve self-actualisation? According to Maslow, man’s basic needs (safety, love and belonging, self-esteem etc.) must be met before a person can reach the stage of self-actualisation. But while striving to meet these needs, man tends to drift away from his true self. He often tends to live a life that doesn’t blend with his core nature and capabilities. For instance, many earn enough money to live comfortably. Yet they find themselves stuck in a profession that is not their true calling. Thus arises, a need for yet another sphere of intelligence. An intelligence that could help man attain self-actualisation and live a life of purpose by realising his true potential. Interestingly, this intelligence has come to be called ‘spiritual intelligence,’ and is measured by Spiritual Quotient (SQ).

“Spiritual intelligence,” psychologist Richard Griffiths defines in his website: “is a higher dimension of intelligence that activates the qualities and capabilities of the authentic self (or the soul), in the form of wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity, and peace. Spiritual intelligence results in a sense of deeper meaning and purpose, combined with improvements in a wide range of important life skills and work skills.” He further explains that SQ becomes the IQ and EQ when a man is governed, not by his ego, but by his true core—his soul. Writes Griffiths: “SQ realises your full potential, by living from your soul, and thus transforms the life destiny that would otherwise be created by the ego.”

Given that spiritual intelligence is essential for man to script his own destiny, it’s wiser to tap into it early on in life, irrespective of whether his other needs are met or not. Impractical as it may sound, perhaps this intelligence could help him employ his IQ and EQ to devise innovative solutions to overcome obstacles. After all, spiritual intelligence is all about realising who he inherently is and finding within himself the potential to become all that—it is self-actualisation in itself. Thus, by integrating the various aspects of his intelligence, he’d find ways to climb the ladder of Maslow’s hierarchy slowly, but surely. He’d find a way to express his unique self and reach pinnacles of glory.

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