12 Exercises To Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence

Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence e-Book cover


A Tiny e-Book To Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence

Katherine Gordy Levine, M.S.S.

©Copyright 2017 Emotional Fitness Training® Inc.

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.


This Tiny e-Book introduces an easily practiced exercise program to strengthen your Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is the ability to manage feelings so you act wisely; when you regret how you act, you have not acted wisely. Physical fitness programs strengthen physical health: this program strengthens your EI.

The exercises, once learned are easy and may seem simple. Do not be fooled; the program has been designed to be practiced easily, but is based on solid scientific research.


Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

Martha Graham

Some studies have shown that it takes repeating an action at least 30 times before it becomes programmed into the brain. That is the bad news. The good news? Emotional Fitness Training’s (EFT) exercises take minutes or less to practice. More good news? Many of the exercises can be practiced multiple times throughout the day.

However, it does no good to practice mistakes. Skilled music teachers know that the way to learn any piece of music is to play it so slowly mistaken notes are impossible. Only when the order of the notes has been learned can the tempo be increased.

Correct practice means doing EFT’s exercises with full awareness. For example, there is beauty all around us, but mostly we either see it momentarily or not at all. Being with beauty means taking the time to give full awareness to the beauty. It is being with, not just glancing at.

To have full awareness during each exercise, you need to learn how to take a Calming Breath. You do so by breathing in slowly to a count of four, holding your breath for another count of four, and then breathing out slowly as you gently smile and say “Ahhhh” or “Thank You.” The words can be said silently if circumstances suggest silence is important.

Warning: When learning Calming Breath or any self-soothing exercise, to so when already somewhat relaxed and calm. Otherwise stress interferes. When you feel you have mastered it, try using it to calm you against small moments of stress. Gradually as it strengthens bring it out against more stressful moments.

Having mastered Calming Breath, use it to become fully aware of the exercises in one of two ways. The first? Do the exercise as you take a Calming Breath. This works for short and quick practice.

For longer exercises, take a Calming Breath start the exercise, breathe normal and keep practicing the exercise. When you are ready to move on, take a final Calming Breath.

Use the quotes to practice full awareness. Each quote is a mini Emotional Fitness Exercise. Read the quote, and think about it while you take a Calming Breath.


If you are driven by fear, anger or pride nature will force you to compete. If you are guided by courage, awareness, tranquility and peace nature will serve you.

Amit Ray,

Exercise One: Practice Gratitude

If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ”thank you” it is enough.

Meister Eckhart

Remember all you have to be grateful for—life, love, a beautiful world. List in your head at least three specific things you that you are grateful for—a family, friends, a pet, a pleasant home, children, good health are a few of the things often included on a gratitude list.

Some people use this exercise as a prayer and thank the God of their faith. Some simply thank the universe.

Every time someone does something for you, say “Thank you” out loud. When something good happens, say “Thank You.”

Finally, work toward be grateful even for the bad. How? Either look and be grateful for any lessons learned or honor your ability to endure.

Exercise Two: Remember The Mission

If there is any responsibility in the cycle of life it must be that one generation owes to the next that strength by which it can come to face ultimate concerns in its own way.

Erik Erikson

We are all charged with moving the world forward. That is The Mission. Some say buying the newest car, the latest fashions, the most up to date gadgets; others say how you look; still others think it is how smart you are or what school you went to, how much money you have, have many jewels you wear, or how fancy a car you drive and are life missions. Wrong.

Research shows these are less important than being kind and caring, forgiving others for their flaws, forgiving yourself for not being perfect, and working with others to make the world a better place.

Exercise Three: Exercise Three: Be With Beauty

If of thy mortal good thou art bereft
And of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.


Look at something of beauty. Listen to beautiful music. Watch a bird soar. Look at a beautiful picture. Using Calming Breath bring the beauty into your being.

If you cannot actually do any of these things at the moment, remember the last time you did.

Exercise Four: Move Your Body

There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast.

Arthur Conan Doyle

This exercise asks you to spend at least twenty minutes a day doing something that raises both a sweat and your heart beat. A fast walk, dancing, lifting weights, running, swimming, bike riding, jumping rope are among the choices you can make.

This is the only exercise that asks for a slightly longer investment of time as that it is one of the most important things you can do to improve not only your physical health, but your emotional health as well.

Exercise Five: Practice kindness

Being considerate of others will take you and your children further in life than any college or professional degree.

Marion Wright Edelman

Giving and getting kindness is essential to your health. Moreover it is one way to act on The Mission.

Exercise Six: Honor The Past

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.

Thick Naht Hanh,

Reflect for a minute on all those people who were, in one way or another, a source of nourishment to you. Remember a specific person. The person does not have to have been always good to you, but this exercise works best if you can remember someone who was more nourishing than not. The exercise also works best if you remember a specific act.

We too quickly recall past hurts. Recalling the good we have been given is healthier. Do so now. Recall the act, the person. Enjoy and be nourished again.

Exercise Seven: Try The New

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss

Trying one new thing every day keeps you learning. Keep it simple: a short poem, a new word, a song, a new recipe, a new way home from work. Learning keeps your brain growing.

Exercise Eight: Laugh, Play, Create

Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.

Joss Whedon

Watch a favorite sit-com, join a laughing yoga club, surf the web for some jokes. Play with a child, a dog, a cat, or complete a puzzle. Join a team. Write some jokes or a poem, knit a few rows, carve some wood, bake a cake.

Exercise Nine: Indulge In A Healthy Pleasure

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

 Elizabeth Taylor

Do one thing each day just for you and that you consider a luxury or an indulgence. Give yourself a hand or foot massage, have an ice cream cone, soak in a warm bath, have one glass of wine. The important thing is to do something to affirm the fact you need to take care of you.

Exercise Ten: Review Your Things Done List

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Edward Everett Hale

During the rush and turmoil of the day, knowing all we have to get done, we fail to see all we have done. Yet every day we accomplish a great deal. When you feel too stressed by your To Do List, take a minute to create a Done That List. Note in your head or out loud the things you have already done during the day. Take a minute or two at night to do the same.

Exercise Eleven: Let Go Of A Negative.

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.

 Steve Maraboli

Past hurts wound only if you keep the hurt alive. Practicing forgiveness daily helps you let go. Here’s how: Review the day. Maybe some hurt or anger lingers on from when someone said something unkind. Did someone treat you unfairly? Take without giving in return? Break a promise? Betray a hope? Embarrass you in public? Say or do something cruel? Or perhaps the negative you need to let go of is some wrong you did. Maybe you treated another unfairly. Maybe you were angry or thoughtless and now regret your actions.

When you know the negative you want to let go of take a moment to look for the lesson in the pain. As previously noted, pain teaches important lessons. Pain reminds us to keep our hands out of the fire. Pain reminds us to enjoy the good when it comes. Pain reminds us to be careful about expecting more than we or life can deliver.

As the poet Alice Walker noted, it is best, ”to live frugally on surprise.”

Life has many peaks and valleys, expecting otherwise is foolish. If you expect to be happy all the time, you will be disappointed. if you don’t expect to be happy, when you are, it will be a bonus.

So pain hurts, but it also brings its gifts. Honor those gifts, let go of the rest. Take a deep breath. Smile. Breathe in and out. The past is over. See the person who hurt you asking forgiveness or see yourself being forgiven.

We all fail to do or be our best. We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness for one thing or another.

Exercise Twelve: Hold Onto The Positive

Sit quietly doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.

Zen Saying

End every day by spending a minute honoring your strength, your ability to endure and to stay on the side of good, to keep caring and striving to do what is right. Then remember all you have and be grateful. Fall asleep holding good thoughts in your heart and head.


A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t even be worth reading.

Yevgeny Zamyatin

Hopefully, you have learned and now practice all twelve of the exercises as suggested and find calmness easier to obtain. Sounds good, but few learn and practice all the exercises when first hearing or reading about them. So do not beat up on yourself if you have only added on or two to what you already do. Life beats up on us enough. That is not to say that the program works best just using one or two of the exercises. Not true. The more exercises you learn and practice the stronger you will grow emotionally.


More may be needed than can be found in a self-help book. The more could be: reading one of EFT’s lengthier books, subscribing to and reading the EFT Blog, joining a support group, hiring a coach, or getting some therapy.

Reject the thought of therapy? Most do. However, there are times therapy is needed.

Emotional Fitness Training programs have to do with strengthening. Therapy has to do with healing. A broken bone cannot be strengthened until it has been healed.

Some emotional problems do not need healing. Some do. Someone who is thinking of killing themselves, someone who engages in harmful behavior and cannot stop, someone who abuses others, or who cannot get up out of bed, or is angry or unhappy all of the time needs a mental health evaluation. If that is you, talk to your physician about where you can go for help. Life can be better. You deserve happiness.

I leave you with one more quote.

Human beings are the only creatures who are allowed to fail. If an ant fails, it’s dead. But we’re allowed to learn from our mistakes and from our failures. And that’s how I learn, by falling flat on my face and picking myself up and starting all over again.

Madeleine L’Engle

Meanwhile, thank you, stay strong, remember what matters, be grateful and practice kindness.

Katherine Gordy Levine

P.S. Liking, commenting, or sharing is practicing kindness.

My books

End of e-Book

Thank you for reading this. I hope you found it valuable. If so consider sending me a few words that I can use to promote Emotional Fitness Training, this, and other of my books.  Also feel free to share. I hope to publish more of what I call Tiny e-Books as to give away  and practice kindness, but also promote EFT’s other books. I like to do good but also need to make a bit more money to keep EFT afloat.

Suggestions for improvement always welcome and do let me know if you spot some terrible grammar or spelling errors.


Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, but listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

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