You may be familiar with the fact that there are various types of intelligence. The concept goes beyond IQ or how smart you are regarding practical topics. You’ve probably heard of EQ, or emotional intelligence, which refers to the ways in which one manages their feelings and interpersonal relationships. There’s one category of intelligence that’s incredibly important, but which you may not know about at all. It’s known as spiritual intelligence, and it comprises the methods we use to navigate the issues of meaning and value in our lives. Keep reading to discover more about spiritual intelligence, its benefits and how to cultivate it.

About Spiritual Intelligence

Those who study spiritual intelligence offer numerous definitions of the term. What they have in common is the theory that spiritual intelligence, commonly abbreviated as SQ for spiritual quotient, is comprised of the personal qualities that go beyond the ego and that make up a person’s highest self. A high level of SQ is indicated by a harmonious inner balance. There are several scholars who study this concept. One of the first and most well-known is Danah Zohar, who lists 12 principles that combine to make up spiritual intelligence. These are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Spontaneity
  • Being vision- and value-led
  • Holism
  • Compassion
  • Celebration of diversity
  • Field independence
  • Humility
  • Tendency to ask fundamental “Why” questions
  • Ability to reframe
  • Positive use of adversity
  • Sense of vocation.

Cindy Wigglesworth, another proponent of the subject, defines four quadrants that make up spiritual intelligence.

  • Higher self-/ego self-awareness
  • Universal awareness
  • Higher self-/ego-self mastery
  • Spiritual presence/social mastery

The scholar, Ken O’Donnell, emphasizes the importance of integrating spiritual intelligence with rational intelligence and emotional intelligence. Some criteria he includes in spiritual intelligence include:

  • How much bilateral respect exists in our relationships
  • How much dignity we retain in respecting the dignity of others
  • How tranquil we remain in spite of our workload
  • How sensible our decisions are
  • How stable we remain in upsetting situations
  • How easily we see virtues in others instead of defects

The views of these spiritual intelligence experts should give you some insight into some of the aspects that comprise the concept. Now let’s look at some of the benefits of spiritual intelligence and what it means to have a high SQ.

Components of Spiritual Intelligence

Scoring high in the realm of spiritual intelligence can benefit us greatly. A high SQ gives you the ability to handle some of those big questions, such as the meaning of life and what we value most. It provides us with an inner balance or peace so that we can better handle what’s going on around us, no matter how unstable or stressful the issue may be. As you develop your spiritual intelligence, you’ll be more self-aware and better capable of making healthy decisions on behalf of yourself and others. Essentially, having a high SQ allows you to live a more meaningful life and to feel that you have a sense of purpose and direction for your life.

Ways to Cultivate a Higher SQ

There’s no one right path to developing a higher social intelligence. Just as there’s no correct way to practice your spirituality, the ways in which you choose to work toward cultivating a more developed SQ will be personal to you. I’d like to share a few suggestions to get you started. Continue contemplative exercises such as yoga, meditation, journaling or hiking. As we’ve discussed, these things provide you with self-awareness, perspective and a connection to something outside of yourself. Read all you can about spiritual endeavors. You can choose your topics of interest, but they should feed your soul. The more you read about spirituality, the greater your internal resources will be with regard to navigating your life in a way that’s personally fulfilling. Seek out others of similar philosophies to your own. These folks can lift you up and will help you to grow your spiritual insight.

Spiritual intelligence is a complex concept. It’s made up of a number of components that directly affect who you are as a person. As you practice and refine your spiritual path, your SQ will increase, as well. As with most things, this is a journey and takes time.