By Catherine Cuello-Fuente.

Emotions are real and they’re painful. They’re also light. They can reveal the truth. They can hurt you or confuse you. Emotions can also show you the way. Ultimately, we are nothing without our emotions. Emotions drive our decisions, reactions, and outlooks. Dr. Josh Davis, PhD states that the reason emotions have a surprisingly powerful effect on our performance is that emotions have adaptive value — they can help us cope and respond to the situation at hand.

As an entrepreneur, I know that I can only do business with people that are emotionally intelligent and with whom I share common values. I know in the first 15-minutes whether I can collaborate with someone or not — some call it intuition or instinct — an essential part of mindfulness.

I suffered a health scare in 2012, and that was after being misdiagnosed and over-treated in emergency surgery. I opted out of undergoing “preventive chemotherapy” (out of pure intuition, support, and good research — kudos to Kris Carr) and changed my life and diet from the inside out. I asked myself how a body with no evident sign of malignancy, in its early twenties, and on its way to becoming healthier, could undergo a severe and invasive treatment that had more negative long-term side effects than positive ones.

And so began my life changing journey, surprisingly, with a positive outlook. For some, the same situation can leave one person traumatized, while another, is left feeling liberated. I now know, that it is not our experience that makes our lives, it is what we do with the experiences. I also know that mindfulness and emotional intelligence are tools I will always listen to. Sometimes you need to take several steps back to gain clarity of a situation.

You can return to where you started and see things with a new set of eyes. And the people still there may see you differently too. After the wake up call, I quit my job, packed my bags, moved to Florida to fulfill my dreams of working on a campaign (Obama 2012), went raw, started juicing overnight, had breakfast every morning in an outdoor jacuzzi, got sunshine and fresh air daily, met the love of my life, and subsequently, started to feel whole again. I moved to a place where time did not matter, in an environment that celebrated my well-being, and where I was not obligated to do mundane responsibilities that left me feeling empty. I gave myself the opportunity to live slower and with more intention. This, in turn, shifted my perspective, and perspective is, really, all that matters.

I went somewhere where less was more. I re-created myself and re-branded myself once more, because inevitably, we are always growing and becoming higher and more sentient beings. Only by slowing down did I realize that making a living is not the same as making a life. So, I made a living out of my life threatening experience and made it my life purpose to help others do the same. The lack of information and access to green foods is what pushed me to pursue entrepreneurship and fill a void in the market. I have never looked back. I created a life with purpose and meaning.

That health scare gave me a second chance at living and becoming less one dimensional. You too can become emotionally intelligent and create change around you. First, start focusing inward to grow and move beyond your current circumstances. Second, focus on today because life only moves in one direction — forward. Last but not least, change the people around you when you must. Those around you should exude positivity, well-being, and happiness. They should be problem solvers and not problem makers.

Five traits of emotionally intelligent people:

Positivity — Emotionally intelligent people exude good energy and positive vibes. Emotionally intelligent people do not overthink things or overburden themselves, and by doing so, they inspire confidence, security, and lightness. You feel good around them. Emotionally intelligent people are aware of their limitations and less likely to set themselves up for failure. In short, emotionally intelligent people aren’t afraid to be who they are.

Boundaries — Emotionally intelligent people set boundaries by respecting your time, but most importantly, by respecting their time. Emotionally intelligent people know they cannot overdo themselves, so they give equal importance to alone time, meditation, or exercise as well as to networking and sending emails. Emotionally intelligent people recognize how their feelings impact them, other people around them, and their performance at work.

Off time — Emotionally intelligent people re-set to re-jet. They understand the importance of switching off, so they take regular stay-cations or don’t answers emails or texts on weekends. Neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful, emotionally intelligent people are honest with themselves and others.

Risk takers — Emotionally intelligent people take risks. Because of their values and goals, they take a balanced, but necessary approach, to succeed in life. They are not afraid to say no.

Self awareness — The key to being emotionally intelligent is self awareness. To be self-aware is to understand your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and inflamed passions. As a consequence, emotionally intelligent people know themselves, comprehend that there are limits, and how much is their self-value. Emotionally intelligent people are mindful and creative because they give themselves time to be still. Stillness and slowness is the way of the future — less is definitely, more. We have access to so much all the time, so sometimes knowing less proves to be more effective. Why — because we get to listen within and really create what’s being channeled through us.

Catherine is the CEO & Co Founder at GreenHopping and the Co Founder at Inside Crowd PR. She was named a “Top Food Tech Entrepreneur to Watch in NYC” by AlleyWatch. Catherine is laser focused on behavioral change and food policy; and at the heart of it all is her passion for technology, entrepreneurship, and communications. GreenHopping is a one stop vegan friendly, organic, and non-toxic e-commerce marketplace. Inside Crowd is a female-led millennial PR, branding, and marketing firm focused on innovative food brands, health & wellness, sustainable fashion, and female founders. Catherine is completing her Masters Degree in Food Policy from New York University (NYU) and earned her BA in International Relations and Politics from Coventry University, England. She is originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and Brussels, Belgium partially. Catherine is a 2016 Aspen Institute Scholar and a finalist for the British Council 2017 Entrepreneurial Awards. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, NY. You can follow her on Instagram here and here.

Originally published at