The setting was The Urban Deli Cafe, Civic Court Napier. It was an overcast day outside, but cosy and bustling inside. Two thumb-sized gingerbread men sat on my coffee saucer begging to be eaten. I happily obliged as I leaned in, listening intently to nuggets of wisdom from a new-found friend.
I sat speaking with Annette Harris, Manager of Hawke's Bay problem gambling service provider Te Rangihaeta Oranga Trust. Considering recent developments of the Convention Centre and Casino issue in Auckland city, it got me thinking and enquiring about the state of problem gambling in Hawke's Bay, it's effects and any assistance available.
Ms Harris highlighted that a co-ordinated and collaborative approach with local gaming machine venues, gaming trusts and other service providers is an important part of the work they do helping at-risk gamblers in our region. Furthermore, that wrapping around sustained support services, assistance and understanding to clients and families is crucial. I found her genuine warmth and care compelling.
Before leaving I asked Ms Harris that if there was one message that she would like me or others to know about problem gambling and possible solutions, what would that be? She paused for a while, pondered the question and then turned to me with one of the most meaningful and refreshing responses I've heard in a while. Rather than focussing on the problem, she explained, it's about restoring the esteem and value of the person and helping them find positive ways to communicate and to channel and express their needs and emotions, rather than having these needs met through destructive behaviour.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
One valuable tool she suggested may be to teach, what I've paraphrased, emotional intelligence in school curriculums. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Some may argue that teachers are not psychologists and schools should stick to their knitting rather than get caught up teaching children how to manage feelings and relationships. Emotional intelligence and conflict-resolution programs are however seeing a growing and even thriving trend in educational institutions around the world, as people increasingly recognise that emotional intelligence and health is crucial for positive living.
No doubt many schools already incorporate such teaching in their curriculum. I'm not sure if it should be mandated in every school. However, there is immense value in learning how to successfully navigate our feelings and emotions and those of others around us.
When it comes to happiness and health in life and relationships our emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as our intellectual ability (IQ). Our IQ can help us get into university, but it's our EQ that will help us manage the stress of final exams. Our IQ can get us into places but it's our EQ that keeps us in healthy, positive spaces rather than falling foul to destructive patterns.
Emotional intelligence and strength affects our entire world around us. It helps us build stronger relationships, succeed at work, overcome obstacles and achieve our goals.
It is also a powerful antidote for not only problem gambling but also other strongholds in our families and community and an interesting insight I thought from this coffeehouse chat.
Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings District Council Flaxmere Ward councillor.