How Can Smart People Stop Being Miserable?

Photo jpg

As Arthur C. Brooks notes in The Atlantic, the relationship between intelligence and happiness is complex and somewhat paradoxical. There is the oft-stated maxim, “Ignorance is bliss” and the related, but more sophisticated concept called the Dunning-Kruger Effect (that those lacking skills in a particular area underestimate their incompetence). While intelligence carries potential boons, it does not necessarily lead to greater life satisfaction at the individual level. A 2022 study corroborated that, finding that people with higher vocabulary levels were less happy. This could be because they tend to self-select more challenging environments and encounter more daily stressors. If, arguably, happiness has more to do with factors like family, friendship, and work that serves others, then using intelligence in pursuit of greater affiliation, affection, and service to others is more likely to be satisfying than using it for personal benefit or hoarding worldly rewards. Using intelligence is a win-win manner rather than assuming that you are engaged in a zero-sum game where your aggrandizement must come at someone else’s expense will feel unnatural, because it does indeed buck evolutionary predilections. Ironically, it probably takes intellectual sophistication to hue that trend. This may truly be the place where supply-side economics and trickle-down prosperity are really optimal. In that case, “using your intellect to lift up others should be, well, a no-brainer,” as Brooks concludes.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thanks for commenting

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s