Intelligent people almost seem like an entirely different breed from the rest of us sometimes, and you might wonder what makes them tick.
What puts them above people who are—pardon my French—stupid?
Believe it or not, a lot of it goes down to the habits they observe day by day.
But what are they, exactly?
Well, here are 10 habits that separate intelligent people from the rest.
1) They devote time to follow their curiosity
Every one of us has the spark of curiosity in us. But most of us set that little spark aside for one reason or another.
One might have been burnt from trying to learn about things they shouldn’t have, and another might simply not have the time to indulge it.
Intelligent people stand out in that they take their time to follow their curiosity and nurture it. They nerd out, ask questions, investigate, and read.
It doesn’t matter if it’s about the latest world-shattering crisis, how to floss the right way, or the way words have changed meaning over time—they will take the time to dig deeper.
2) They question everything—including themselves
When people talk of intelligent people, people usually think of a person who reads so many books they’re effectively a walking encyclopedia. Ask them something and they know the answer.
But that’s not at all what being intelligent is about. A more essential part of being intelligent is the habit of asking questions.
The intelligent person isn’t afraid to question everything, or shy away from asking questions that others won’t even dare ask.
They would question why we eat with cutlery instead of our bare hands, or just how religion has shaped the world.
And most of all, they are willing to question their own thoughts and the way they think. They would stop every now and then and ask “wait, am I really right?”
They are perfectly aware that they have their own biases, and that no matter how hard they try they can’t be completely free from it. They remind themselves of this every now and then.
They are stubborn too—answers like “it is just how it is, don’t question it!” only frustrate them and make them more determined to know the answer.
3) They don’t include their feelings when trying to dig for the truth
While intelligent people have their biases and feel emotion just like everyone else, they do something most people don’t.
They try to think past them.
That is because they are aware of just how strongly their emotions and their ego can cloud their judgment.
When you let your emotions get to you, you can blind yourself to the chance that you might be making mistakes, or even push yourself into making said mistakes.
That is why intelligent people try their best to detach their emotions from the actual issue at hand so that they can make a proper judgment.
4) They don’t cling quickly to coaches and spiritual gurus
The thing with spirituality is that it’s just like everything else in life: It can be manipulated.
Unfortunately, not all the gurus and experts that preach spirituality do so with our best interests at heart. The intelligent person knows this.
Some take advantage to twist spirituality into something toxic, poisonous even.
I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandé. With over 30 years of experience in the field, he’s seen and experienced it all.
From exhausting positivity to downright harmful spiritual practices, this free video he created tackles a range of toxic spirituality habits.
So what makes Rudá different from the rest? How do you know he’s not also one of the manipulators he warns against?
The answer is simple: He promotes spiritual empowerment from within.
Click here to watch the free video and bust the spiritual myths you’ve bought for the truth.
Rather than tell you how you should practice spirituality, Rudá puts the focus solely onto you. Essentially, he puts you back in the driver’s seat of your spiritual journey.
5) They don’t believe everything they see on the internet
This might seem quite obvious but it’s important to drive this point home. Intelligent people don’t believe everything they see on the internet without questioning.
When they come across information online, instead of believing it immediately and sharing it around they take a “doubt and verify” approach.
They take a deep dive to confirm facts about that scrap of information before they click that “share” button.
But that doesn’t mean that people who get fooled on the internet are “stupid”. Sometimes, people are just too tired to doubt, or too brainwashed by bad sources to think otherwise.
The intelligent person is very well aware of this and therefore is critical of their sources of information. They ask themselves how reliable the source is, how current the information is, and whether everything makes sense.
If they spot a glaring inconsistency of any kind, they inquire. They gather information.
6) They don’t jump to conclusions
Information is like a lump of raw ore. It’s useless if you don’t try to use it properly.
And jumping to conclusions is squandering it. It’s like picking up that raw ore, seeing that it looks dirty, and throwing it away because there’s no way a dirty old rock could be worth anything.
What intelligent people do when they get their hands on information is to try to scrutinize every single aspect of it.
When they pick up that same raw ore, the intelligent person would see the smallest slivers of gold hidden in the dirt.
They don’t come to a conclusion immediately, just to look or sound smart. And that is because they know the power (that is, danger) of words, and how the smallest turn of phrase can completely change the meaning of something.
7) They listen with the intent of understanding
Let’s be real. Go on social media and talk to people. Chances are that the people you’re talking to—unless they’re close friends of yours—are not going to bother to put an honest effort in listening to what you have to say.
They’re going to pick apart your words and twist them to mean something other than what you intended. They listen for the sake of pushing their own words and ideals into your mouth.
Intelligent people don’t do that. When they listen—whether it’s to other people, or to the media—it is for the sake of understanding and learning.
Intelligent people are very reliable when it comes to listening to others.
8) They look for opportunities to learn more
Intelligent people are not content with having just one source of information, or a single opportunity to learn.
They won’t be happy to listen to just what the news tells them, for example, and might pick up books related to whatever has piqued their interest.
But they won’t stop there—they will go online to do some more personal research, or discuss things with other people. And if given a chance, they would grab the opportunity to attend workshops, conduct interviews, and maybe even go outside and explore for some hands-on experience!
If it could add to their knowledge—and is within their means—they would do it.
9) They aren’t afraid to be wrong
It’s hard for us to acknowledge that we are wrong. Most of us, when we encounter information or conversation that makes us doubt ourselves, the expected reaction is to deny it.
Some people would blow up on the spot and start an argument, while others would obsess over looking for information online that proves them right. Yet others would try to shut down the discussion and insult the people they’re talking to.
Chances are that you will have done this at some point in time. Maybe someone tried to correct you on something you said, and in return you snapped and told them they look like they had just been diving in a dumpster.
While a perfectly natural reaction, it’s something that keeps people behind.
Intelligent people are not only afraid to be wrong, but if you tell them that they are, then they will thank you for correcting them.
There’s a saying where anyone can be wrong, but being wrong only becomes a mistake when they refuse to correct it. Intelligent people choose to correct their errors.
10) They don’t think they’re intelligent
Bukowski once said “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
This is very spot on. It’s in the nature of an intelligent person to doubt everything, including themselves. You’d never see an intelligent person say “You’re absolutely wrong and I’m absolutely right”.
People who say that are, more often than not, the very people who often end up being wrong. The intelligent person knows that doubt is essential in the search for truth. They also know that an open discussion is a way to better understand things.
If someone you know is absolutely sure that they’re right, all the time, then they’re probably not as intelligent as you might think.
People like to think that people are intelligent at birth….that people get an IQ score when they’re young, and then are defined by that number forever.
But the habits listed above are arguably more essential than your IQ score in determining if you’re intelligent or not.
You can have a low IQ, but be reasonably intelligent so long as you observe these habits. Likewise, you can have a high IQ, but make an absolute buffoon of yourself if you do the exact opposite.
And as with all habits, these can be learned with practice and discipline. It will be hard at first, especially if you’ve been doing the exact opposite since forever. But hey—it’s worth it, isn’t it?
Putting yourself first
Hey, Lachlan from Hack Spirit here.
What’s your number one goal at the moment?
Is it to buy that car you’ve been saving up for?
To finally start that side-hustle that’ll hopefully help you quit your 9-5 one day?
Or to take the leap and finally ask your partner to move in?
Whatever it is, you’re not going to get there, unless you’ve got a plan.
And even then…plans fail.
But I didn’t write this to you to be the voice of doom and gloom…
No, I’m writing this because I want to help you achieve the goals you’ve set.
I’ve recently been taking part in a workshop called Life Journal created by teacher and career coach Jeanette Brown.
Covering all the basics and more on what’s needed to reach your goals, Jeannette tackles everything from creating habits and new behavior patterns to putting your plans into action.
She doesn’t mess around – this workshop will require effort on your part but that’s the beauty of it – Jeanette has carefully designed it to put YOU in the driving seat of your life.
So…think back to that important goal I asked about at the start of this message.
How much do you want it?
Are you willing to put the effort in to get there?
If so, check out the workshop here.
If you do take part, I’d love to hear how your Life Journey goes!
All the best,
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