Spiritual Intelligence: Everything You Need to Know


Last Updated on December 6, 2021

Many leaders like Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs have spiritual intelligence (SQ) to thank for their brilliant leadership approaches.

Want to have a brilliant leadership approach and understand the outer world better, too?

Then read on.

In this article, we’ll talk about the nitty-gritty of spiritual intelligence. This way, you’ll have everything you need to know about the subject and use it to unleash a high level of intelligence.

Spiritual and emotional intelligence: Are they the same?

Spiritual intelligence and emotional intelligence aren’t the same. Often, people mistake them to be a singular idea because both of their concepts overlap. Some people make things even more confusing by throwing in existential intelligence as another similar concept. If you dig deeper, though, you’ll observe that spiritual intelligence and emotional intelligence are not the same.

Think of the term spiritual intelligence as emotional intelligence that has an additional layer of intelligence.

Plus, a distinguishable difference is, they are among the three main types of multiple intelligences:

  • Rational intelligence – It’s about your intelligence quotient, and refers to the most fundamental intelligence. You can measure this through results in typical examinations, standard logic, and educational achievements.
  • Emotional intelligence – It refers to how you feel. You can measure this by your response to others.
  • Spiritual intelligence – It’s about what you are. It’s a culmination of what you think and how you feel.

12 principles under spiritual intelligence

What also makes spiritual intelligence stand out from emotional intelligence, existential intelligence, multiple intelligences, and other types of intelligence are its underlying principles below.

1. Self-awareness

To some people, it’s also called metacognition. And it refers to a deeper sense of thinking. It describes your knowledge of what you believe in and what gives you motivation for your human existence.

Signs of self-awareness:

  • No trouble understanding how you feel – If an element is about to overwhelm you, you know exactly why. Because you have a profound level of human consciousness, and you know the cause of your emotional triggers, your spiritual intelligence explores your being and gives you the ability to regulate your emotions.
  • Accepting your failures – You always take responsibility. Because you understand your strengths and weaknesses well, you have no self-serving biases, and you can easily let go of things beyond your control.
  • Respecting people who don’t agree with you – If an opinionated person doesn’t share the same beliefs as you, you don’t close the door on them. Instead, you take time to hear them out, and see things from their perspective.

2. Spontaneity

People with spiritual intelligence are about being in the moment — devoting your presence and responsiveness to current events. Individuals who have a fondness for spontaneity are linked to high spiritual intelligence because they know not to be affected permanently by the outside world. 

Signs of a fondness for spontaneity:

  • New things trigger excitement and adventure – If something doesn’t go your way, you adapt. You show enthusiasm in looking for a silver lining.
  • A need to keep going – You thrive in spur-of-the-moment activities. Because of your profound spiritual intelligence, you utilize spiritual resources, and you help the elements around you find their purpose.
  • The knowledge that impulsivity can be disadvantageous – While randomness excites you, you can identify the harmful effects of unpreparedness.
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3. Vision and value leadership

It refers to your actions. If you want to understand human behavior, specifically why you behave the way you do, you can explore this principle. While you have no qualms about following trends, you don’t set aside the need to stray if these trends compromise your principles.

Signs of someone with a good vision and values quality leadership:

  • Open-mindedness – You don’t ridicule or doubt other people’s morals and existential perspectives. You show spiritual intelligence because you encourage them to air their opinions.
  • Willingness to listen attentively – You don’t listen for the sake of listening. You listen as someone who wants to understand the situation.
  • Genuine confidence – You’re long-sighted and passionate about your intentions. And you can perform your duties in everyday life so well even without someone coaching you and also without belittling other people.

4. Holism

It’s about your sense of belongingness and the need to serve a higher purpose. If you’re a holistic individual, your approaches are intuitive. And you can understand things better when they’re presented as an entire concept, rather than when they’re pitched one by one.

Signs of holism:

  • Pragmatism – You show spiritual intelligence because you perform actions in your best interest. In the process, you learn to prioritize and eliminate any element that could harm you.
  • The insistence to rely on others – You’re not afraid to ask for help. This urge manifests itself even if others may criticize you for your dependence.
  • Welcoming nature – You actively refuse to over-analyze situations. And you’re ready to accept them for how they are.

5. Compassion

It refers to deep empathy, having exemplary personality traits, and the need to feel connected with the emotions of other people. If you’re compassionate, you’re someone with spiritual intelligence, and you’re not blind to the universal existence of suffering. You know that everyone suffers even though it may not be obvious.

Signs of a compassionate individual:

  • Emotionally affectionate – Because you understand how others feel, you’re more sensitive towards them. And you use your spiritual intelligence and increased sensitivity to navigate the world around you.
  • Wanting to always help people – Your intention is to relieve other people of their suffering. That’s why you’re ready to support them as much as possible.
  • Seeing the good in others – You don’t mind if you can’t fully understand the behavior of other people. Your spiritual intelligence motivates you to always treat them highly and with respect.

6. Celebration of diversity

It’s about acknowledging how other people differ from you and valuing them for how they are. You’re someone with spiritual intelligence because you act on instinct. If they’re a little odd, or their beliefs are otherworldly, or they have wacky spiritual traditions, you accept them wholeheartedly.

Signs of someone who celebrates diversity:

  • Commitment to continuous improvement – Your focus is always on growing and consistently generating new ideas. You’re adaptive, and you’re willing to take a backseat if necessary.
  • Absence of malice and ignorance – Negativity is often the result of malicious and ignorant behavior. Without these and other flawed critical existential thinking, you’re susceptible to identify positivity.
  • The courage to pursue unique goals –  You don’t entertain doubts whenever you chase goals that seem unattainable to most people. That’s why you’re a trailblazer and you soar to great lengths.
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7. Field independence

It’s about your capability to think for yourself. Your spiritual intelligence shows in your determination to think independently. You’re an eternal learner who can easily separate details from each other.

Signs of field independence:

  • Having a clear perspective – You see things as they are. Because you don’t sugarcoat your perspective, you can make well-informed decisions.
  • Ability to excel in specific tasks – You’re well-aware of your strong suits. And you have no trouble using those strengths to facilitate everyday problem-solving.
  • Ability to apply solutions uniquely – You’re loyal to what you know. Even if other people disagree with the solutions you propose, you’re certain of the factors that can fix problems. 

8. Humility

Next Generation AI series. Composition of  fusion of human head and fractal shape to serve as a supporting backdrop for projects on mind, consciousness and spirituality

It refers to your authentic nature as among all human beings. People with spiritual intelligence allow themselves to absorb their environment — not the other way around. While humble people can be linked to submissiveness, passiveness, and insecurity, humility is a hint of greatness.

Signs of humility:

  • Situational awareness – You know what’s going on. You have a full grasp of your environment’s pros and cons and how you can leverage them.
  • Selflessness – You put the needs of others first because you’re confident in your self-worth. Your goal is to make others feel genuinely cared for.
  • Gratitude – You take the time to express your appreciation for what others can do for you. You’re willing to go to great lengths to let people know how thankful you are for their service.

9. The tendency to ask “Why?”

It’s about your inquisitiveness and the need to understand things. You’re always curious, and you don’t simply conform to whatever values are thrown your way. If something doesn’t sit right with you, you won’t hesitate to ask fundamental questions.

Signs of someone with the tendency to ask “why?”:

  • Willingness to be wrong – You don’t mind being wrong as long as you have the facts. You’ll always want to correct your course, and you want to know the most effective way to do it.
  • Natural empathy – You have an innate sense of connecting with other people and the physical world. Your focus is on having harmonious friendships and a good family life, and helping others want to share their knowledge with you.
  • Self motivation – On your own, you explore possibilities. You can engage in a deep existential reflection, and you don’t wait for other people to explain how things work.

10. Ability to reframe

It refers to your ability to give an unbiased or wrong sense of perspective of a situation. Having an ability to reframe is important because it allows you to be flexible. Its personal meaning is associated with not having problems with taking a step back in order to be in the best position to move forward.

Signs of an ability to reframe:

  • Wanting a regular relaxation habit – You take actionable measures and engage in appropriate spiritual practices to avoid burnout. You want to be stress-free to maximize your full potential.
  • Identifying toxic activities – You can easily tell which things you do have negative effects on you. And you’re willing to detoxy or sanctify everyday experience as soon as possible.
  • Accepting what you can’t control – You understand that some things are beyond your control. As a result, you let things flow naturally.
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11. Positive use of adversity

It’s about your resiliency — your willingness to learn and grow from mistakes. If you have an unfortunate situation, you don’t complain about it. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you strive to turn the bad stuff into good.

Signs of someone who uses adversity in a positive way:

  • Wicked sense of humor – Experiencing failure sucks. But you laugh about it and use that humor as fuel to carry on.
  • Mental toughness – Having a set of terrible physical and mental experiences can mean the end of the world. Not for you, though, because of your incredible mindset to push through.
  • Extraordinary and valuable insights – Because of the lessons you learned, you become extraordinary and more valuable. And you can say the same about the life skills you have.

12. Sense of vocation

Usually, it’s related to nonmaterial and transcendent aspects. It’s about wanting to serve others and help them reach new heights in human development. It’s also admitting you’re a small part of a bigger — much bigger — picture. 

Signs of vocation:

  • Mental stability – You’re 100% certain in wanting to help other people. You don’t need convincing, you act according to your true intentions.
  • “You are your own hero” – While you recognize there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, you do your best to be self-reliant. You take care of your own physical and psychological health to be fit enough to take care of other people.
  • Drawn to charity – You admire what a large entity can do. And you want to be part of it so you can serve their purpose.

Final thoughts: What it means to be a spiritually intelligent human being

Being spiritually intelligent means having inner and outer peace. It means having the ability to tap into your higher self and a higher level of human intelligence. And it means having a better understanding of your needs, as well as the needs of others.

Most importantly, it means you have unlocked your spiritual consciousness, and you experience heightened states of pure consciousness. You’re aware of the spiritual significance of things.

If you don’t think you’re spiritually intelligent, keep in mind the principles above. And live your life in a way that abides by those principles.

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