, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
You need a high IQ to excel in school. You need
a superior EQ to do well in business. You need to constantly improve
your LQ to succeed in life.
Have you ever wondered why smart people like
Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling, former executives of Enron, fell
from their pinnacle of success? Do you know why so many superstars
in the entertainment industry have serious problems of substance
abuse? Can you understand why some distinguished professors have
messed up their personal lives? Why are there so many people who
possess everything money can buy and yet cannot find happiness?
Are you puzzled that some hugely successful people have taken their
Os Guinness (2001) has provided three helpful
quotes that shed some light on the above questions:
Lee Iacocca, the legendary carmaker, wrote
in his autobiography: "Here I am in the twilight years of my life,
still wondering what it's all about…I can tell you this, fame
and fortune is for the birds."
Bertrand Russell, the famous mathematician,
wrote to Ottoline Morell, one of his mistresses, and confessed:
"I have a very internal & terrible spiritual loneliness."
Dallas Willard, a Christian philosopher, said,
"Meaning is not a luxury for us. It is a kind of spiritual oxygen,
we might say, that enables our souls to live."
Life Intelligence (LQ) defined
I propose the lack of Life Intelligence maybe
one of the main reasons why so many people can succeed in many areas,
but still fail in what matters most - living a meaningful and honorable
Why is LQ so essential in living well? What
is LQ anyway? Simply put, LQ is intelligence for life, intelligence
for living. It is the most important kind of intelligence that
you can count on in navigating through storms of life without a
shipwreck, the kind of intelligence that enables you to be adaptive
in all seasons of life. It is a philosophical of life that tells
you what life is all about and how you can be happy. It is the philosophical
intelligence, the wisdom of knowing how to live a life of meaning
and significance in the midst of chaos, crises, and temptations.
It is supra-intelligence, meta-intelligence, the highest form of
intelligence, because it transcends instincts, the five senses and
brain mechanisms. It is based on the accumulated philosophical and
spiritual wisdoms of thousands of years of human history.
I hasten to add that LQ is not something attainable
only by the reflective, philosophically included, educated elites.
It can be acquired by any one who wants to learn with an open mind
how to make life count and what really matters in life and in death.
More specifically, LQ is consisted of the abilities to:
- Understand and live out one's meaning and
purpose in life
- Have a clear sense of personal mission and
- Place problems in the larger scheme of things
and proper perspective
- Know how to manage crises wisely and courageously
without hurting self or others
- Know how to manage temptations from power,
fame, money, sex or illicit drugs
- Know how to manage adversities and tragedies
- Know how to recognize and accept what cannot
- Know the difference between right and wrong,
good and evil
- Have the courage to do what is right in spite
of all kinds of pressure (i.e., peer pressure, pressure from the
- Have the courage to live authentically according
to one's core values
- Believe that life is worth living in spite
of setbacks, sufferings and death
- Know what is worth living and dying for
- Have a functioning and satisfying worldview,
belief system or philosophy of life
- Know how to make use of available resources
to achieve life goals
- Know how to endure suffering with patience
- Know how to get involved in a community
- Know how to treat others with understanding,
dignity and respect
- Know how to be spiritually connected with
God and others
- Know how to tap into spiritual resources
- Know one's place in the world
Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, to what extent
is each one of the above statements characteristic of you? Your
LQ score can range from 20 to 200, with the larger score meaning
Q. How would your spouse or best friend
rate you on the above brief LQ Test?
LQ is related to emotional or moral intelligence,
but what sets LQ apart from other forms of intelligence is that
it offers a larger perspective and provides the conceptual framework
to handle the big questions of life with wisdom, courage,
and broader considerations. Wisdom probably comes close to capturing
the essence of LQ, because LQ has to do with the wisdom of living
and dying in a way that inspires others.
Solomon of the Bible? (1 King 3:3-28) When God appeared to Solomon
and said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you". Of all things,
he asked for wisdom so that he could be a good king to the people
of Israel. God was pleased with his request and promised him: "I
will give you a wise and discerning heart."
Q. If God promises to give you whatever
you ask, what is the one thing you would request? Why?
Q. How is wisdom related to faith?
Carl Rogers once said that what is personal
is universal and what is universal is also personal. If we focus
on the big questions of life, the small problems can be easily resolved.
Conversely, if we focus on the small problems, but ignore the big
questions in life, then we are likely to get stuck or get lost in
all the trivial problems.
Here is a good analogy. If you are equipped
with the Global
Positioning System, you can easily track down any address in
any city. Similarly, having a higher and larger perspective makes
your daily problems much smaller and manageable.
Q. What are the practical benefits of
placing or framing events in a large picture?
High and Low LQ compared
People with high LQ value life and invest it
wisely in what really matters in the larger scheme of things. They
do not ask how they can get the most from life, but how they can
give their uttermost to life. Their starting point is not how they
can be happy, rich and famous, but how they can be most useful in
a needy world. They know how to make the best of life in the worst
of circumstances. They are able to find some measures of happiness,
contentment, and inner peace, even when they have more than their
share of troubles and tragedies. They know why they need to persist,
even when all the external forces are arrayed against them. No matter
how down they are in "luck", they can still look at things from
the mountain top with great clarity and proper perspective.
In contrast, people with low LQ invest their
precious time and energy in "junk bonds" - in cheap thrills, misguided
ambitions, and selfish gains. They strive, scheme, and sweat to
pursue the American dream of "from rags to riches", but in the end,
they wake up from a nightmare of heartbreaks, loneliness and emptiness.
Their love of money, pleasure and vanity makes them vulnerable to
temptations; their arrogance and pride make them blind to their
own limitations. They have neither the integrity to resist temptations,
nor the character to endure adversities. They are short-sighted,
interested only in short-term gains. Their happiness is determined
by other people and by circumstances. They know how to make a good
living, but don't know to live the good life. All the distractions
and diversions in the world can not fulfill their inner void. They
think that they are the smart opportunists, but in the end they
are the fools who build castles on sand.
A more precise way to compare people with High
and Low LQ is to observe and measure how these two groups react
to stressful situations like natural disasters, life threatening
illness, bereavement. We can also observed how they would react
when they are thrust into various temptations such as windfall profits,
positions of power or sexual seductions. My prediction is that people
with high LQ are much more likely to come through all the above
situations relatively unscathed. Alternatively, we can measure the
LQ of those who have become stronger and better persons as a result
of very stressful situations, and those whose lives literally fall
apart as a result of the same events; my prediction is that the
former possess higher LQ than the later.
Of course, the best proof is experiential. You
can experience real changes in your own life when you start learning
and practicing LQ.
LQ can be learned
It takes LQ to navigate through the storms,
shoals, and siren sounds. It takes LQ to arrive at the destination
safe and sound. It also takes LQ to live a life rich in happiness
and significance. The good news is that LQ can be learned, and cultivated
by anyone, regardless of age and educational level. One can learn
LQ through taking a course like the one being offered, or from following
a mentor. None of the schools teach us knowledge and skill but not
how to live well. We can learn LQ either through trial and error
or from the accumulated wisdom of all the sages, scholars and saints
who have gone before us. The Bible and other sacred scriptures are
also important sources of LQ.
This course is about LQ. One can never fully
comprehend the mysteries of life, nor can we grasp the ultimate
meaning of suffering, but as we grow in LQ, we gain greater understanding
of the five big questions about life discussed in Part
1 of this course. As we practice LQ, we will learn how we should
live -- the focus of Part 2.
LQ and the meaning of life
LQ and the meaning of life may be used interchangeable.
The reason for introducing the concept of LQ is to show that the
meaning of life is not some abstract philosophical idea, but something
very practical and important for navigating the journey of life.
Whenever I mention the meaning of life, invariably
people would ask: "What do you mean by the meaning of life?" But
when I mention life intelligence, people immediately pay more attention;
they know what intelligence means - it is something very practical
and important; they also know what life means - it is their most
precious possession. That is why they instinctively know that life
intelligence is a matter of immense importance to them; that LQ
may be something that they cannot do without.
Having stressed our need for LQ, I want to add
one caveat: Don't confuse LQ with the "How to get rich" schemes
of success seminars or the secrets of instant happiness and self-actualization
from personal development gurus. LQ does not offer instant wealth,
nor does it promise any quick fix. Instead, LQ is primarily concerned
with learning the difficult task of how to master the inherent risks
and vicissitude of life and how to manage one's limited resources
wisely to fulfill one's meaning and purpose in life.
Triggers for the quest for LQ
Many things can trigger one's quest for LQ.
Bronson's (2002) "What Should I Do With My Life" shows that the
trigger varies from individual to individual. It can be a sudden
epiphany or a time of life transition.
In Woody Allen's film Hannah and Her Sisters,
Mickey (played by Woody Allen) was worried that he might have cancer.
When the medical test was negative, he sudden realized that he needed
to quit his job and embark on his search for God. This is how he
explained to an associate about his decision: "Do you realize what
a thread we're all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless
everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers."
The fragility and brevity of life demands that
we pay attention to LQ. We cannot live and die graciously without
There are no simple answers to the big questions
about life and death. This course can only provide a roadmap, a
guide to facilitate your personal quest. This course is about how
to live a fulfilling and significant life in a chaotic and dangerous
world; but, it is not a substitute for coaching, counseling or therapy.
Seek professional help if you need it. Meanwhile, you can benefit
from this course, if any numbers of the following statements apply
- I have messed up my life.
- My life is spinning out of control.
- I need a new direction.
- I need to find a reason for living.
- I want to have something or someone to believe
- I need to restore my faith and hope.
- I don't know what to do about my anger and
- I am really hurting inside.
- I don't know how to be free from my inner
pain and bondage.
- I feel helpless and hopeless.
- I feel that my life is boring and empty.
- I feel that life is passing me by.
- I feel trapped and stuck.
- I feel like an exile, not belonging anywhere.
- I feel that no one really cares whether I
live or die.
- I can't go on like this anymore.
- I am tired of the endless struggles.
- I don't know who I am or why I am here.
- I don't know what I really want in life.
- I don't know what I believe.
- I don't know where I am headed.
- I am afraid of what will become of me.
- Life does not seem to make sense.
- Life sucks.
- I don't have a future.
- I can't stand most people.
- I resent the fact that many wicked people
- I am troubled that there is no justice in
- Since we all have to die, it makes no difference
how I live.
- If this life is all there is, I don't see
the point of living.
- I want to find something worth living for.
- I am searching for authentic happiness.
- I am looking for true love.
- I want to know where there is an ultimate
- I want to know God.
- I want to be a better person.
- I want to make my life count.
- I want to make a difference in this world.
- I want to make some changes in my life.
- I need to rearrange my priorities.
- I want to fulfill all my potentials and dreams
- I want to make this world a better place.
- I want to leave a good legacy.
Please write me (email@example.com)
and let me know how this course has helped you so far. Feel free
to ask any questions related to LQ.
Bronson, P. (2002). What should I do with
my life? New York: Random House.
Guinness, O. (2001). Long journey home.
Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.