Skyline University Nigeria

Self-Cultivation Skills for Ethical and Emotional Wellbeing – Musings

How can one cope with emotional well-being challenges in a world of animosity, cutthroat competition, and being surrounded by people with self-centric attitudes? With the experience of attending training and practice, the author attempted to share her musings in this article.

Practicing core life values and skills such as empathy, mindfulness, and compassion equip people to cope with their challenges with emotional well-being. It also provides them with skills that will help and contribute to developing peaceful minds and sustainable societies. It will start with our introspection on our (humans) core values and how they form. Questions like this help build healthy relationships with self and others and help to perform better in workplaces more compassionately by reducing animosity and toxic relationships in personal and professional spaces.

These skills also helped many leaders in the corporate world in their professional arenas to deliver effective leadership. Compassionate integrity refers to the ability to live one’s life in collaboration with one’s values with a recognition of common humanity and a basic orientation to kindness and reciprocity. One can thrive as an individual and in society by cultivating human values as skills. The first step toward improving relationships with others and positively impacting communities is developing increased personal well-being. This approach has been referring as the process of self-consciously working to increase these types of personal skills and well-being, i.e., “Self-Cultivation.” Skills required under this process are Calming Body and Mind, Ethical Mindfulness, Emotional Awareness, and Self-Compassion.

Calming Body and Mind by doing activities such as breathing exercises, listening to music, taking a walk barefoot in the beach sand, yoga, and meditation helps to understand how our body and mind respond to various situations inside and outside one’s control and guides people to choose righteous responses sensibly during stressful situations. This practice helps people to return to their resilient zone when they go out of it due to internal or external disturbances and puts them into the high or low autonomic nervous system (CIT Many leaders confirmed in various sources that the training and deployment of this skill involve paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.

As said by Karen May, vice president at Google, she has developed the ability to mentally recharge by taking one “mindful breath” before walking into every meeting. It takes her roughly six seconds, and in that time, she brings her full attention to one breath, resetting her body and mind. Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic opined that the mental technique has game-changing consequences and helped him to sustain high performance for extended periods. (Chade-Meng Tan, 2015).

Another skill that helps people is Emotional Awareness. What is emotional awareness? It is an awareness of one’s emotional state. Working on this skill will help people how one can be less reactive and respond to triggers (trauma, sadness, fear, stress, unhappy news, crying spells, anger, etc.) consciously with greater wisdom.

As per some institutions such as CIT-Life University, USA, and UNMGEIP training workshops (the author attended), this skill can be learned through emotional intelligence techniques. Goleman (1995) recognized five distinct categories of skills that form the key characteristics of EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation and motivating others, empathy, and social skills (Landry, 2015).

Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation, empathy, and social deftness. A lack of emotional intelligence can destroy the intellect and ruin careers. Perhaps the highest impact is on children and youth, for whom risks include depression, eating disorders, unwanted pregnancy, aggressiveness, and violent crime.

Ethical mindfulness builds awareness about thoughts and how they affect actions, develop attentiveness and clarity in thinking, and purposefully pay attention to the present moment with an attitude of interest or curiosity rather than judgment. It is a state of being that acknowledges every day ethics and ethically important moments as significant in clinical care to enable ethical clinical practice. (Guillemin, & Gillam 2015).

Some trainers assume that training the mind is like training a puppy. As per some of the trainers of this skill, three techniques will help people to learn this skill are heedfulness (being vigilant to protect self and others from harm through words and actions), mindfulness (being aware of and remembering core values), and awareness (present moment consciousness of speech and actions).

Self-compassion is learning to set realistic expectations and aspire to excel on personal or professional fronts without getting demotivated. Self-compassion involves being kind and understanding toward own self, even during moments of suffering or failure. Practicing this skill will help people explore the underlying motivation behind our thoughts and actions and how suffering and happiness do not depend solely on external situations. This will help to learn how expecting happiness from external sources, rather than internal ones, often fails to bring lasting satisfaction and finally helps to explore how unrealistic expectations can lead to suffering and excessive self-criticism. 

Engaging in skill training in compassion is not enough for ethical and effective decision-making; it must combine with critical thinking and an understanding of reality. Practicing critical thinking guided by our values’ context will help us achieve a happy life for others and ourselves.


Freeman L (2009). Relaxation therapy. In Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 129–157. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. Bantam Books, Inc.

Guillemin, M., & Gillam, L. (2015). Emotions, narratives, and ethical mindfulness. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges90(6), 726–731.

Dr. Sudha Mavuri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, and the current Dean of Arts, Management and Social Science, Skyline University, Nigeria. She has a Ph.D in Economics, M.A in Economics and BA in History, Economics and Political Science with Economics Major from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. 

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