Philosophers have been musing over ‘intelligence’ and ‘the pursuit of an intellectual life’ for centuries now. It’s a question that has been at the centre of both the civilized and uncivilized world. Some like Einstein related intelligence to creativity and imagination. he didn’t put much value in static knowledge but spoke highly of curiosity and aptitude. On the other hand, Socrates claimed, “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing”.
Fitzgerald famously remarked, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function”. Hence, let’s test our intelligence and pose these questions – Is intelligence something we are born with? Is it inherited from our parents? Or is it something we learn and consciously cultivate?
Can there be a single criterion for determining intelligence? Clearly not, remember the quote “don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb and the squirrel by its ability to swim”? While there can be no single measure of intelligence, IQ or Intelligence Quotient is a reliable score deduced at the end of several standardized tests crafted to ascertain human intelligence. Most original and brilliant minds like Mozart, Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Churchill, Gandhi and the likes had certain things in common despite their geographical and mental differences. Their potential to learn new things was visibly greater than their friends and family, they were receptive yet assertive. Wonder if you share their qualities? Mentioned below is a list of traits observed in people with a higher than average IQ.
1. You’re A Private Person
Whether it stems from a need to focus on your own thoughts or anxiety takes a toll on you, people with higher than average IQ tend to avoid socializing (1). While the need and benefits of social interaction are known to all, people with high IQ are like wallflowers; they often blossom in their own company, against all odds.
2. You Fret A Lot
Intelligent people are scarred by their own unfettered imagination. They cannot float through life without a plan, instead they are compulsive planners, which invariably leads to anxiety. Even the converse holds true, several researches done on people with anxiety revealed a high intelligence quotient (2). Your level of self-awareness makes you sense a change in your environment before anyone else does.
3. You May Be Suffering From A Mental Illness
Genius often comes at a cost. The romantic era saw a depiction of the tortured genius plagued by polarized thoughts. This does not mean that anyone who is diagnosed with a mental illness is intelligent, it is just that research done on children demonstrating a high IQ has been linked with the risk of developing bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety later in life (3), (4). Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf – some of the greatest minds to have lived were all marred by bipolar disorder.
4. An Alternate Approach To Reality
People with high IQ are swayed by logic alone. They are not governed by traditional approaches to life, they constantly cultivate new ideas and find proof to buttress them. They shake the society every time it tends to lean towards complacency. Their personal goals are often tied closely to the growth of the society they inhabit.
5. You Are Vulnerable
You tend to give people benefit of doubt and thus are often taken to be naïve. Your vulnerability is key to your creativity and well-being. Trusting people guarantees your own piece of mind, thus you do not exercise an unhealthy amount of cynicism.
6. You’re Comfortable With Profanity
You speak your mind, you talk about things as they are, no euphemisms. This stems from your unending desire to reflect the problems in the society thereby pushing it towards change. Intelligent people see profanity as a necessary form of expression. Their slurs are often wedged between solid arguments.
7. You’re A Sloth
There’s so much going on inside your head that you often ‘appear’ to be doing nothing. The lack of physical movement gives the impression that you’re extremely lazy or choose to do nothing, whereas the truth is far from it. You require to be stationary to focus on your thoughts (5). However, no amount of mental activity can substitute for the physical activity required to maintain a healthy mind-body balance.
8. You’re A Nocturnal Creature
You struggle with the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ habit. You tend to stay up way past your bedtime, devoting that extra time to introspection or creative pursuits. You might feel that sleep is a waste of time. But beware, lack of sleep can, in fact, hamper cognitive functioning and cause long-term health problems.
You may or may not have these traits, but it’s important to bear in mind that none of these are fundamental to intelligence. After all, even Einstein believed that ‘the measure of intelligence is the ability to change’.