10 signs you’re a genuinely smart person, according to psychology

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There’s a world of difference between pretending to be smart and genuinely being smart.

Genuine intelligence isn’t just about acing every quiz or being a quick problem-solver. It’s about understanding, adapting, and navigating through life’s complexities in a thoughtful way.

But how can you tell if you’re genuinely smart? Psychology has some interesting insights into this.

To give you a peek into the world of psychological intelligence markers, I’ve put together a list of 10 signs that reveal you’re a genuinely smart person.

Let’s get started. 

1) You’re constantly curious

Genuine intelligence isn’t just about knowing a lot of things—it’s about wanting to know more.

Psychologists often associate a high level of curiosity with intelligence. Why? Because people who are constantly seeking new information are actively working to expand their knowledge base.

Carl Jung, a famous psychologist, once said, “The most important question anyone can ask is: What myth am I living?””

This simple yet profound statement underlines the importance of curiosity in our intellectual development.

If you’re someone who can’t help but question everything around you, from why the sky is blue to why society functions the way it does, then this could be a sign that you’re genuinely smart.

Being smart isn’t just about having all the answers—it’s about asking the right questions. Keep asking “why?” and never stop learning.

2) You adapt to changes quickly

The world is constantly changing and evolving. And, to keep up with it, so should we.

When I lost my job a few years back, I was initially devastated. But then I realized it was an opportunity for me to switch careers and pursue my passion for writing. Instead of wallowing in disappointment, I adapted to the change and turned it into a positive transition.

Psychologists consider this ability to adapt an indication of intelligence. It’s about being flexible and responsive to new situations or changes in circumstances.

As the renowned psychologist, Jean Piaget, stated: “Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do.” This emphasizes that true intelligence isn’t just what we know, but how we handle situations that are new or unexpected.

If you’re someone who can adapt and make the best of any situation, it’s a good sign you’re genuinely intelligent.

3) You’re comfortable with not knowing

This one might surprise you. But yes, being comfortable with not knowing everything is a sign of genuine intelligence.

I’ll be honest, there are countless times when I’ve found myself in a spot where I didn’t have all the answers. It made me feel vulnerable, but it also taught me a valuable lesson. It’s okay not to know everything.

Psychologist and philosopher William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” This reminds us that it’s not about having all the answers, but how we handle the unknown that defines our intelligence.

If you’re someone who can embrace uncertainty and see it not as a weakness, but as an opportunity to learn and grow, then pat yourself on the back. You’re showing a sign of true intelligence.

4) You appreciate different perspectives

Genuine intelligence is often associated with open-mindedness. It’s about appreciating and understanding different perspectives, even if they differ from your own.

I remember a time when I found myself in a heated debate with a friend over a political issue. Instead of letting our differences divide us, we decided to listen and understand each other’s viewpoints. It was an enriching experience that broadened my perspective.

Psychologist Carl Rogers said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” This reflects the importance of being open to new ideas and perspectives.

If you’re someone who respects diverse viewpoints and is willing to change your mind when presented with new information, you’re demonstrating a sign of genuine intelligence.

5) You’re okay with being wrong

It’s a little counterintuitive, but being okay with being wrong can actually be a sign of genuine intelligence.

Nobody likes to be wrong. But the truth is, our mistakes often serve as our greatest teachers. They’re opportunities for growth, for learning, for becoming better.

Famous psychologist and author Albert Ellis once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

This quote emphasizes taking responsibility for our mistakes and learning from them instead of blaming others.

If you’re someone who can admit when you’re wrong and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, then it’s a sign you’re genuinely intelligent.

6) You value alone time

Believe it or not, valuing alone time is a sign of genuine intelligence.

Why? Because it’s during these quiet moments that we often engage in deep thinking, self-reflection, and problem-solving.

Carl Jung once said, “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

This suggests that introspection and self-awareness—things we often gain during our alone time—are key indicators of intelligence.

If you’re someone who cherishes your alone time as an opportunity to reflect and understand yourself better, that’s a sign you’re genuinely intelligent.

7) You’re a good listener

Being a good listener is more than just being polite—it’s a sign of genuine intelligence.

I’ve always found that listening, truly listening, to others is one of the best ways to learn. It opens up a world of perspectives, ideas, and knowledge that I might not have otherwise encountered.

As the renowned psychologist Carl Rogers put it, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”

This highlights that active listening isn’t just about hearing words. It’s about understanding and appreciating the thoughts and feelings of others.

8) You’re not afraid to ask for help

This may seem counterintuitive, but not being afraid to ask for help is actually a sign of genuine intelligence.

We often associate asking for help with weakness or incompetence, but the truth is quite the opposite. It takes a lot of courage and humility to admit when we need assistance.

The renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

This can often come through seeking help and understanding our limitations.

If you’re someone who doesn’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it, it’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re genuinely intelligent.

9) You don’t shy away from complex problems

Many people tend to avoid complex problems, viewing them as bothersome or overwhelming. But if you’re someone who is drawn to these challenges, it could be a sign of genuine intelligence.

Albert Einstein said it best when he said, “The mere formulation of a problem is far more often essential than its solution.”

This highlights that the ability to understand and frame complex problems is a key aspect of intelligence.

If you’re someone who doesn’t shy away from complexity but rather embraces it as an opportunity for growth and learning, it’s a sign that you’re genuinely intelligent.

10) You appreciate the simple things in life

Finally, and perhaps surprisingly, appreciating the simple things in life can be a sign of genuine intelligence.

I’ve found that some of the most profound moments in my life have come from simple experiences: a quiet morning coffee, a walk in nature, or a heartfelt conversation with a friend.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow beautifully captured this when he said, “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

If you’re someone who finds joy and meaning in the simple things, it’s not just a sign that you’re living well—it’s a sign that you’re genuinely intelligent.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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