Emotional fitness is the ability to control negative feelings.  Feelings are signals and want you to act quickly, without thinking, and as the feeling tells you to act. When you act without thinking, the feeling is controlling you.

Here’s little test of emotional fitness.  None of our tests have been validated, but they are based on research knowledge and best practices.

How to take the test:  Think of the past few weeks, using an average of those weeks,  rate yourself on the indicated scales.  Note your score for each question and then add all the individual scores together for a final score.

1.  What is your general mood?


Four Three Two One Score
Fantastic Very Good Okay Not Good Suicidal

2.  How much is stress a part of your life?


Four Three Two One Score
No stress Very little Normal Some Too much

3.  How do you feel about yourself?


Four Three Two One Score

Like self

Mostly like Okay Don’t like Hate self

4. What are your feelings about most other people?


Four Three Two One Score
Like everyone Like most Half and half Dislike most Hate most

5. How much do worries, fear or anxiety interfere with your ability to do what you want or what needs to be done?


Four Three Two One Score
Rarely Very little Some Worry lots Fear rules

6.  How much trouble do you get into because of anger?


Four Three Two One Score
None Little Some Lots Anger rules

7. How much do you get done despite negative feelings?


Four Three Two One Score
High achiever Get all done Most done Lots undone Little done

8.  How much hope do you have for the future


Four Three Two One Score
Grand Good Fair Very little None Total score ____
  1. Scoring the Emotional Fitness Snapshot.
  2. Score 5 in all categories for a total score of 40 and you are: An Emotional Fitness Superstar, delusional, a happy fool, or lying.
  3. Score above 35 and you are very emotionally fit.
  4. Most people score between 25.and 30.
  5. Scores 25 or below indicate a need to improve emotional fitness.  You are living with a lot of stress.  Therapy may be indicated in addition to emotional fitness training.
  6. Scores below  20 or scoring 1 in any category indicate a need for therapy.  In those situations, Emotional Fitness Training is a helpful addition to therapy; when you take medicine, you also take vitamins.

Use the Emotional Fitness Snapshot to look at areas you need to work on.

  1. Score below 3 on mood, you need help handling depressed feelings.
  2. Score below 3 on stress, you need help managing stress.
  3. Score below 3 on feelings about yourself, you need help managing guilt and shame.
  4. Score below 3 on feelings about others, you need help managing anger and relationship related feelings.
  5. Score below 3 in terms of troubles created by negative feelings and you need help managing all negative feelings, but most likely anger is a major problem.
  6. Score below 3 on productivity, you may be physically ill. See your doctor.  You also may be too stressed or dealing with a depression.  Talk to a therapist.
  7. Score below 3 on hopes for the future, you need to examine your goals and life mission; as noted above you may be struggling with depression, with too much stress, or a hard luck life in which trauma’s have left an impact on you.

Get Help When Needed

Anyone planning to harm another, planning to commit suicide, or without any hope for the future needs to see a mental health professional immediately. Waiting for things to get better could be deadly.

Far too many people do not reach out for help early enough.  The chances of leading a good life improve when major emotional problems are dealt with early on. Stigma and/or viewing needing help as weakness are false and harmful beliefs.

No one can handle major life problems without help. When we lived in tribes or on farms, it was assumed we would help each other.  No shame was attached to asking or receiving help.  The same should hold today.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure you need professional treatment.  The same is true for emotional problems. Too much negative stigma is attached to mental health problems.  As a Yiddish saying notes: “All of us are crazy in one way or another.”  Moreover, it is not if you are crazy. Four things really matter more than  “craziness:”

  1. Do your emotional problems lead you to being cruel?  Survival of the world depends on kindness.  Personal survival  depends on the ability to be kind to yourself and to others. Harming yourself is crazy; harming others unless in self-defense is equally crazy.
  2. Are your emotional problems keeping you from doing what you need to do to and that includes finding some pleasure and contentment in life?
  3. Is stress over-whelming you?  Stress erodes emotional fitness. Just as there are supposedly “No atheists in foxholes” no one can stay sane when dealing with major stress.  If you scored a three or below on question two, Go here for a more definitive stress test.


Many of the people others thought were crazy were thinking ahead of their time.  Still others were so creative, most people didn’t understand them. Galileo  was thought to be crazy because he believed the world was round.  HMozart was thought to be obsessed with his music.  Most of the great artists and writers of the world have had what would be called diagnosable disorders if evaluated by a psychiatrist.  Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents, suffered from a major depression.

People need therapy for many reasons.  Sometimes getting therapy means you have a mental illness and need treatment, other times it might mean you are going through a time of over whelming stress, and need special help, or it might mean you want to gain insight into your life.

Not that some people don’t have such serious problems; some can be legally called insane.  Usually these are people with chemical imbalances who cannot function at all without protection.  Most need to spend their lives in a controlled setting. Very few people have such serious emotional problems. When such problems happen, it is truly sad.

At Emotional Fitness Training, we think cruelty to self or other is a far bigger problem than insanity or craziness.  Cruelty comes from hatred.  If you hate yourself, you will be cruel to yourself.  You might even kill yourself.  If you hate others you will be cruel to others.  Instead of worrying about being crazy, worry about being kind.  We worry about the ability of others to be kind far more then about craziness.

“Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”

                                                                                                 Friedrich Nietzsche


Established in 1995, by Katherine Gordy Levine, Emotional Fitness Training®, Inc. (EFTI) is a for profit corporation.  It’s  business motto is “Make Money Doing Good.”  Doing good is paramount.  EFTI seeks to do good by providing people with information and aides to strengthen their emotional fitness.

Emotional fitness is the ability to manage feelings.    EFTI   provides  motivational, psycho-educational tools, support and coachhing.


Every Emotional Fitness Training (EFT) program promotes the  following core beliefs:

  1. At one time or another we all deal with strong feelings for life can be cruel, relationships  painful, happiness, and self-fulfillment hard to find.
  2. The healthiest lives give  to others;  the more you give to others, the more meaningful your life;  others include every living being; we are one.
  3. Luck plays a part in everything.  We don’t always get what we want.  We don’t always get what we feel we have earned.
  4. Not getting what we want or feel we have earned creates negative feelings including envy, hate, and despair.
  5. Struggling with a strong feeling is not the same as being emotionally disturbed, but no one is emotionally fit whose heart and mind   hold  envy, hatred, or despair.
  6. People worry too much about being thought emotionally disturbed or crazy.  Worrying about being kind and not cruel is healthier.
  7. When you are cruel to yourself or others, negative feelings control you.
  8. When a feeling controls you, you do things you regret.
  9. When you control your feelings, your life is better.
  10. When you control your feelings, you move the world toward peace.


Emotional fitness is about managing feelings. We can own our feelings or our feelings can own us.  Anger is a feeling that tries to own us: “I was angry; I couldn’t help myself.”  Sadness is another feeling that can own us. “I couldn’t do my work; I was so sad, I just sat there and cried.” When a feeling determines how we act, the feeling is in control.  When we decide how to act on a feeling, we are in control, we are emotionally strong.

Just as physical fitness programs improve physical health, EFTI programs and tools  improve emotional health.


One study followed 450 boys, two-thirds who grew up in welfare families, and one-third who had IQ’s below 90. The study found that in achieving success IQ didn’t matter as much as ability to handle frustration to control emotions, and get along with other people.  In another study, a group of 80 people with Ph.D.’s in science underwent a battery of personality tests, IQ tests, and interviews in the 1950s when they were graduate students at Berkeley.  Forty years later, those who had strong  social and emotional management skills  were four times more likely  to succeed in life.  These two skills proved more important than IQ in determining success.

As Daniel Goleman, the expert on emotional intelligence, reported in 1998, at least two-thirds of the difference between those who are competent and those who are not is due to emotional intelligence.  What Goleman calls emotional intelligence we call emotional fitness.

Some suggest EFT programs are nothing more than  common sense dressed up.    Not true.  All EFT programs and exercises are based on practices known  and proven by careful research to improve emotional fitness.


Feelings signal the need to act and an intensely negative feeling signals a need to act quickly, without thinking.  When you act before thinking, the feeling controls you.   When you think before acting and you are in control .

Staying in control of feelings sounds easy, but it isn’t.  The ability to think before acting requires mastery of the following  six skills:

  1. Feeling awareness: knowing when a feeling starts and accurately naming feelings.
  2. Feeling measurement: knowing how to measure the growth of negative feelings.
  3. Self-soothing:  calming the body and focusing the mind so you can decide how to act.
  4. Knowing what is important so you can act wisely
  5. Acting wisely on what you can change.
  6. Accepting and letting go of what cannot be changed.

No one is born emotionally fit.  Babies are controlled by their feelings.  A contented newborn sleeps, a hungry or hurting newborn cries.  Two year olds who don’t get their way have temper tantrums.  Children learn to take control of feelings because parents, teachers and other grown-ups show the way by modeling and teaching the six emotional fitness skills.  When adults caring for a child remind the child to think first, they are coaching the child to use an important emotional fitness skill.  When an adult has a temper tantrum, it is a sure sign the adult needs to practice his or her Emotional Fitness Training skills.


Some confuse EFTI with therapy.  Therapy is about changing your personality, sometimes changing your brain through medication; therapy t seeks to help overcomewhat some call character flaws and others call weaknesses or the effects of past traumas.

EFTI is about strengthening and moving toward specific goals.  We do not promise any more than a physical fitness program promises as a way to help someone improve their current level of fitness.  However, the programs often  have a  therapeutic impact, particularly  when used as part of a therapeutic program and if you are in therapy or thinking of therapy, share our program with your therapist.  He or she will most likely suggest you continue to do the Daily Dozen as part of your therapy.

Share, care, and stay strong.