Trav Cowan

The Skill of Emotions

With the changing times and the importance of mental health at the forefront of our minds, the significance of emotions and their impact on everyday life (work, school, relationships, etc.) is a noteworthy conversation to have. The best way to start that conversation is, of course, with Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is a term that wasn’t present in anything I was taught growing up, but the term is important in almost, I dare to say, every aspect of life, especially during contemporary times, with the importance of mental health being on everyone’s radar after COVID. Emotional Intelligence (EI for short) is defined as a set of skills that help to accurately name emotions you yourself or others might be feeling and being able to regulate said emotions in yourself/others.

Understanding EI from that definition is easier said than done but luckily, there is a more simple way to understand EI. EI is formed by four basic clusters which are as follows:

1.Identifying emotions in yourself and in others, through verbal/nonverbal means

2. Understanding how emotion vocabulary gets used, how emotions transition over time (How anger may lead to embarrassment/shame and how that leads to you making an impulsive choice

3. Emotional management which includes not only managing your own emotions but others

4. Using emotions in cognitive activities like solving a problem or making a decision

EI does not come naturally for some, and that is largely because EI is a skill. Like riding a bike is a skill, we learn, cultivate, and improve on our skills as we grow, and this is undoubtedly true for EI as we learn to listen to what our emotions are telling us. Emotions are information that helps us understand a situation we are in and how we perceive that situation. By processing the information and data provided by emotions, a person can make a better decision in a plethora of moments/situations and avoid acting impulsively.

EI is so important to understand in contemporary times because of the plethora of correlations one can make in regards to many subjects, mental health being a notable example. Those who have a good set of emotional intelligence skills are healthier, happier, and more productive. EI can also predict outcomes in school (how well you work in a group) and the workplace (whether you’ll get a promotion or how you handle situations). As seen in a study, those with EI skills can elicit information, and strangers even rated interactions with those having good EI skills as more pleasant.

With all that being said here is one exceptional way to, sooner than later, improve your emotional intelligence skills- extend your emotional vocabulary. By having emotional granularity (precise labeling of emotions) a person can have less serious bouts of anxiety and depression. In a 2015 review of emotional granularity those “who could differentiate their emotions while experiencing intense distress were less likely to engage in potentially harmful coping strategies.” (McCoy 28).

If you would like to find out more about EI and how to improve your EI skill check out our issue of Psychology Today (the specific issue this month is on Emotional Intelligence) and some of our audiobooks/books (such as Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) in our collection about EI.

Brackett, Marc, McCoy, Katrina, . “The Art of Emotional Intelligence.” Psychology Today, Vol. 57. No.2, April 2024, pp. 26-30 

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A Cat’s Social Life

When I first adopted my cat, I was of the opinion like many that cats would be les social and more independent than dogs. While this may be true in some cases, this is a misconception, and I first noticed it when getting to know my own cat. In cat psychology (Yes, it is a real brand of psychology) one can see that when compared to dogs and infants, cats are not all that different. One aspect that has been studied to explain why a cat’s behavior is commonly seen as aloof/cold, while a dog is happier/caring is their sociability. 

“One of these studies was basically looking at the sociability of cats, and we ran basically the exact same experiment that had already been done with dogs and we look at how a cat reacts to a person, how long they’re going to spend near to them, and we saw that cats spent basically equivalent amounts of times with people as we saw with the dogs.” (Vitale, 2024, 2:35) 

The results between cats and dogs didn’t show any large discrepancies. There were cats that spent a lot of time near/with a person, while some fell in the middle and others spent no time at all with a person. These results were consistent in dogs, considering that all dogs are not hyper-social, contrary to popular belief.  

Through this study, people can see that the attachment a dog/cat portrays for their owner is the same type of attachment styles that infants portray for their caregiver. Another aspect that is important for those thinking of adopting a kitten is that there is a certain age period where socialization is important. If you want to help ease future social anxiety for your cat when being introduced to other animals or new people, you should try to introduce them to different social interactions (dogs, other cats, people) in-between two-to-eight weeks of age.  

Another fun fact about a cats sociability is their ability to be sensitive to social cues which in turn can cause them to mark socially important areas with their scent. This can be a reason why your cat, if like mine, continually scratches at your couch day after day.  

“cats like to scent mark around socially important areas. So, the couch is a perfect example. Everyone’s hanging out on the couch. There’s a lot of smells on the couch. So, the cat’s just trying to add their smell to this socially important area by scratching” (Vitale, 2024, 19:35) 

In case you’re wondering how to stop your cat from scratching at your couch, Vitale says to place a scratching post/cat tree in a socially important area, so your cat doesn’t feel left out. 

For more information on the psychology of cats please check out our databases and check out the particular podcast episode, Speaking of Psychology: “What’s going on inside your cat’s head? With Kristyn Vitale, PhD” 

Extra information from our own catalogue- Changes in sociability of shelter cats, Decoding Your Cat, and more!

Resources 

Mills, Kim, Host. Vitale, Kristyn, Researcher “What’s going on inside your cat’s head?”.” Speaking of Psychology, 275, American Psychological Association, February 2024, https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/cat-human-bond.   

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National Library Week

Happy National Library Week! 

With national library week finally upon us, some may wonder what National Library Week actually is. National Library Week is a yearly celebration that emphasizes the importance of libraries & their staff in their respective communities. Libraries have a plethora of resources that help build the community and they act as a central hub in the community connecting their members to the resources they may need, inspiring growth/change. While libraries have always been important, National Library Week wasn’t always a thing. Around the mid to late 1950’s, many people were spending less time reading and more time with radios, tvs, and other activities. To encourage more Americans to read, the ALA formed a nonprofit organization called the National Book Committee. One of their many plans involved National Library Week, which was a plan developed to encourage more people to read so libraries could have more support and see more use. The first National Library Week took place in 1958 and now we are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the event.

If you would like to read more about National Library Week, read here

To celebrate National Library Week, we at MVCC Library are having our very own 2nd “Hue-mongous” coloring event where students can color any number of pictures we have on display. Students can also donate a $1 that will go to the student scholarship fund and have their picture hung up in the library.

(Fun fact-  Coloring is known to relieve stress because of the way it calms the brain and relaxes the body. Because of that, coloring is know to improve sleep while helping with body aches, heart rate, and feelings of depression/anxiety)

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Roses are red, Violets are blue

https://www.scmp.com/yp/discover/your-voice/stories-poems/article/3059590/poetry-101-beginners-guide-understanding-and

With National Poetry Month soon upon us, one can look forward to many poetry events, one being the library hosted Poetry Contest and Coffeehouse. Students can submit their original poems/spoken word as videos to be posted on the library’s YouTube channel. If students do not feel comfortable reading their own poetry, they can even have someone else perform the poem for them as a submission. The library will host an in-person/online event to announce the winners and have special readings on April 20th so feel free to come by! To prepare for this upcoming National Poetry Month event, here are 5 interesting facts about poetry.  

  1. The earliest forms of poetry predate written language. They were sung/recited to help people remember genealogy, laws, and oral history. 
  1. While British author Geoffrey Chaucer is known as the father of English literature, he is also considered to be the father of poetry & the best English Poet of the Middle ages
  1. Metrophobia is the fear of poetry & metromania is the compulsion to write poetry. 
  1. The longest poem in the world is the Mahabharata, which is an Indian epic poem dating from the fourth century BC or earlier. (the poem has about 1.8 million words). 
  1. The best-selling poet of all time, with over 4 billion book sales globally, is William Shakespeare. His surviving works include about 40 plays, 150 sonnets, 2 long-story poems, and a few eulogies. 

If you like these facts & want to read more interesting facts about poetry click here & to register for the poetry library hosted event click here

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