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Can Your Smartphone Make You Smarter About Your Emotions?

Can Your Smartphone Make You Smarter About Your Emotions?
Could your smartphone make you smarter about your emotions? That’s the goal of the Mood Meter app, the signature tool of the RULER social and emotional learning program developed by Dr. Marc Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
 
The Center believes that emotions matter, and that people of all ages can make their lives more productive and compassionate by developing their emotional intelligence. The RULER program is an evidence-based approach that allows schools to integrate teaching emotional intelligence into their everyday practice.
 
One concept central to the RULER approach is that learning to identify and label emotions is a critical step toward cultivating emotional intelligence. That’s where the Mood Meter app comes in. Using the Mood Meter app, students and educators become more mindful of how their emotions change throughout the day and how their emotions in turn affect their actions. 
 
Here are the basics of getting started with the app, in the words of Dr. Brackett (from the CPI podcast Unrestrained, Episode 9):
 
“The Mood Meter is a tool built on emotion theory, and essentially asserts that our feeling space is the byproduct of two things. The first is kind of our appraisal of the environment: how pleasant or unpleasant is the environment that we're in. So you can think about it for kids, you know, when they walk into the school, are they unpleasant or pleasant? When you get home do you feel unpleasant or pleasant?
 
And then the second dimension is energy, or activation, and that's kind of how much juice you have in your body. Are you feeling negative vibes, for example, and you're about to fall sleep, or plus vibes, where you feel activated?
 
And essentially what happens is that you cross the two axes, pleasantness and energy, to create these four quadrants: the yellow, the red, the blue, and the green. And briefly, yellow is for high-energy pleasant emotions, like you're excited or happy. Red is for high-energy unpleasant emotions, like anger or anxiety. The blue is for low-energy, unpleasant feelings, like down, disappointment, sadness. And the green is for calm, pleasant emotions, like tranquil, peaceful, and content.
 
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One thing we argue in our research, and also in our practices, is that if you can name it, you can tame it. When you have the ability to articulate clearly what's going on for you on the inside, it helps you create a model in your head for your feeling state, and then it also allows you to think about what you need to either keep that feeling or shift it.”
 
Once users have identified their current emotion and plotted it on the matching quadrant, the app provides strategies like practical tips, quotes, and inspirational images to help start a shift from one color quadrant to another, if desirable. Users can also generate history reports, program reminders to help them remember to input information, and share their emotional progress with friends and family. 
 
The Mood Meter app promises to help users “build emotional intelligence that will last a lifetime,” and in regular use it could help both students and professionals better recognize and manage their emotions.
 
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