The More Happy Blog The Myth of Smartness

The Myth of Smartness


Have you ever had a conversation with someone who clearly sees themself as smarter than everyone else?

These “smart” people usually went to some prestigious university and have multiple degrees to back up their perceived “smartness.” In meetings, they have the fanciest title and share it multiple times to make sure everyone is aware. They want their intelligence known, because it, in their mind, dictates importance.

But intelligence, like everything else, is relative to circumstance.

I believe we have done a cultural disservice by standardizing our metrics of intelligence, and stripping context away from skill. One major flaw in the notion that people are “smarter” than others is the fact that context dictates the value of intelligence in any given situation.

A tour guide might not have the same education as the European vacationer, but in the context of their transaction, the intelligence of the tour guide is of more value.

Same goes for a marketer with an Ivy League education trying to sell shampoo to a working class mom–the intelligence of the mother and what she needs from a shampoo is of far more value during their transaction.

And that self-proclaimed, smarter-than-everyone-else human we discussed earlier? They probably have pretty good intelligence to offer in certain transactions as well.

Life smarts–the intelligence that comes with surviving each day–is more valuable to our future survival than fancy college degrees, high test scores and a coveted c-suite title.

Where does happiness come into play with this? Life smarts shape our authenticity and build our confidence. And interacting with others through acknowledgement of their life smarts requires compassion, gratitude, curiosity and control.

To add more happiness into our world, we need to enter every engagement as an opportunity to learn from someone else. We are all smart. And to grow as a culture, we need to start respecting the differences in our intelligence and look to learn from one another.

You can’t buy life smarts. Luckily, we all have them and grow smarter every day.


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