As Dostoyevsky once said, “It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.” When it comes to truly intelligent people, they all have these things below in common. Notice how none have anything to do with degrees! Keep reading to find out what they are.
10 Things That Truly Intelligent People Have in Common
We seem to be under the impression that intelligence is defined by where we go to school, what degrees we hold, or even what fields we work in. While these things define our level of expertise in a subject, they have absolutely nothing to do with how smart we are.
Truly intelligent people are defined by so much more than an IQ score or a piece of paper from an Ivy League college. Like what, you ask? Let’s check out my list of what I feel makes someone really smart. I even included some inspirational quotes about wisdom to help illustrate each point.
1. Truly intelligent people are full of doubts
The truly wise among us know one thing for certain, and that it’s we can never be 100% certain about anything. After all, just when we think we know something for sure, new evidence comes along and changes everything. This brings us to…
2. They’re capable of changing their minds
Admitting that we may be wrong about something and changing our minds doesn’t make us wishy-washy. It makes us smart. Holding onto beliefs even after we’ve seen all evidence to the contrary? Now that is what makes us fools.
3. Smart people let new light shine on their assumptions
Not only are truly intelligent people willing to admit that they’re wrong and change their minds when presented with evidence, but they actively seek to reevaluate their assumptions. In other words, they constantly ask themselves, “Am I still confident that this is the right way to think about this?”
4. They educate their hearts as much as their minds
All of the education in the world can make you technically intelligent, yes. Do you know what else is technically intelligent, though? A robot. A computer. An iPhone. Heck, even a coffee maker! None of those things have hearts, either. If you want to be a truly intelligent human being, you need to feed your heart as much as you do your brain.
5. Smart people would rather be wise than just clever
Anyone can be clever about something. The very definition of the word is “quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas.” Wisdom, on the other hand, is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”
On the surface, it seems like they’re similar, but wisdom has one thing that cleverness doesn’t: good judgment. It’s not just about knowing something, it’s about knowing when and how to use that knowledge the right way.
6. Smart people work together
It takes real intelligence to admit that you don’t have all of the answers and be willing to allow others to help you. All of the best discoveries throughout the entire history of humanity came about through collaboration. Maybe you have a brilliant idea on how to help improve your neighborhood by installing a community garden. Joe down the street has a great idea on how to improve it by installing a new park for the kids. Alone, both of your ideas are amazing. Together, though, you have the potential to create something truly outstanding for everyone.
7. They’re willing to take chances on themselves
The smartest person isn’t someone who’s read the most books or holds the most degrees. It’s someone who has the courage to take the first step towards following their dreams. It’s one thing to learn for the sake of learning. I love reading about new topics and exploring new ideas just for fun. At some point, though, you’ll come across a bit of knowledge that excites you, that gives you new ideas, that really inspires a brand-new dream. If you just put it away and ignore it…well, what a waste that would be.
8. Smart people know how to use their imaginations
While Einstein’s “Imagination is more important than knowledge” quote is perhaps his most famous, he also said that imagination is the TRUE sign of intelligence. Look, anyone can read a bunch of books and acquire knowledge through rote memorization. It takes creativity, though, to know how to use that knowledge to make the world – or even just your small part of it- a better place.
9. They know that knowledge is meaningless without joy
There’s this weird assumption that happy people are only happy because they’re ignorant. That somehow, if you’re really smart, you’re miserable because you know just how messed up the world is. Yes, the more we learn, the more we realize just how messed up things are. It takes a wise person to look beyond the messed-up stuff and see the beauty, to find a way to hold on to positivity even in the midst of all the negativity.
Truly intelligent people know when to just take a moment to appreciate the joyful things in life. They know that just being alive is a special occasion and a reason to celebrate.
10. The wisest people know that people matter more than things
Perhaps most important of all, the truly wise among us know that people, not things, matter the most. They’d rather use that intelligence to leave the world a little better than they found it. They want to be remembered for how they treated people and made them feel, not because their name is on a building or a bridge.