Highly Intelligent People Aren’t Miserable

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

— Albert Einstein

Highly intelligent people aren’t miserable, but insecure ones are. We can probably assume that some highly intelligent people are insecure, and that’s the real root of their problems.

There’s no single measure of intelligence

Let’s say you totally nailed the SAT or some other standardized test. Great, you have one form of intelligence mastered. That doesn’t mean everyone around you is an idiot, or just “average.”

You’re smarter than you think

A talented dancer has kinesthetic intelligence. She’s just never been told that. Odds are, you’re smart at something.

Waitresses are highly intelligent

One of my favorite books of all time is The Mind at Work, by Mike Rose. Drawing on psychology and education theory, he conducts case studies on waitresses, plumbers, hair stylists, and carpenters.

Solitary genius is a myth

Albert Einstein was only a genius in a couple of ways. His peers considered him an average physicist. But he excelled at connecting dots and explaining concepts in ways everyone could actually understand. He was pithy, and highly quotable by newspapers.

Perceived genius is just skill-stacking

Einstein was one of the first skill stackers. He was a self-learner who found a way around all the bullshit of formal education.

Intelligence doesn’t prelude happiness

One of my least favorite books is The Sorrows of Young Werther, a late 18th-century epistolary novel by Goethe. Over the course of about 200 pages, a bright young man in Germany obsesses over a cute girl he knows and then kills himself. Coulda happened yesterday…

Solving problems makes us happy

Here’s a way to define intelligence: You apply your mind to a problem and solve it. That makes you smart.

But “being smart” makes us miserable

One of my favorite short stories is by Flannery O’Connor, “The Enduring Chill,” about a young writer from NY who moves back in with his mom after falling victim to a mysterious illness.

Intelligence doesn’t exclude love

Lots of highly intelligent people maintain healthy relationships. It happens all the time. Some of them just deal with other pressures and disorders, and taking care of those makes a difference.

How to be happy if you’re smart

If you’re reading this, you’re smart. You’re good at something. Maybe you’ve been told it’s worthless, by the wrong people. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re so smart you won’t be able to get along with “normal” people. Both these ideas are total fictions.

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