If you display these 9 behaviors, you’re more intelligent than you think

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When I say “intelligence”, what names come to mind?

Albert Einstein. Stephen Hawking. Hermione Granger.

Let’s be honest, very few of us reach the heights of the likes of them. You haven’t invented the theory of relativity or become the Minister for Magic, after all.


Intelligence isn’t just about being skilled at physics or getting straight As. In fact, you might be much more intelligent than you think.

If you display these 9 behaviors, you’re a smart cookie, so…congratulations!

1) You always seek to learn more

What’s the one element that connects Hermione, Hawking, and Einstein?

They’re endlessly curious. That’s why Hermione’s always in the library – not because she loves looking at books (although that’s probably also a factor) but because she has an insatiable desire for knowledge.

What about you? Do you spend hours researching a specific topic because you’re keen to learn more? Were you one to puzzle over everything in class, ask questions, and get frustrated if you couldn’t reach a conclusion?

Do you look at the world around you and wonder why the sky is blue, how oxygen works, and why society is the way it is?

You might have been born clever, but if you’re not curious, you’ll never hone those skills and grow. 

Curiosity is what true intelligence is really about.

2) You don’t get discouraged easily

I’ve recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and one of the things that surprised me most was his explanation of why Chinese people are so good at maths.

It’s not that they are born smarter. It’s not that they have some inherent talent for numbers.

It’s that 1) their language is better suited to maths and 2) they live in a culture that encourages effort, consistency, and hard work.

When they look at a mathematical problem, they don’t give up as quickly as students in the West would. They take their time. They try their best to understand it.

This is the key to intelligence.

If you give up on most things you try, you won’t ever be able to evolve through trial and error. You won’t overcome challenges. You’ll just hide from them.

If you have the stamina and the willpower to keep going despite how frustrating things get…that’s smart-cookie material right there.

3) You take the necessary steps to reach your goals

According to research, highly intelligent people have better self-control. They don’t give in to emotional impulses as easily, which allows them to think in the long term and make high-quality decisions.

This affects your discipline, of course. If you have self-control, you’re not going to lounge on the sofa and watch Netflix just because you feel like it.

No. You’ll go to the gym or meditate or read a good book. You’ll tick off everything on your to-do list, do what needs to be done, and put effort into moving toward your goals.

All the intelligent people you hear about only ever got to that place because they weren’t lazy. They worked, and worked, and then worked some more.

Talent only comes to fruition if it’s nurtured. To some degree, intelligence is the same – you’ve got to put it to good use in order to improve your life.

4) You keep a journal

Have you ever heard the term “EQ”?

EQ means “emotional intelligence”, and it’s what largely affects your success in life. Yes, that’s right. IQ matters only up to a certain point. EQ is so much more crucial than you’d think.

And a big part of EQ is self-awareness. It’s the ability to see yourself for who you truly are and not shy away from it. When you’re self-aware, you have a deep understanding of how you operate, which areas need work, and what your strong suits are.


When you journal effectively – that is, you don’t write about what you had for dinner but instead focus on your inner thoughts and processes – you increase your self-awareness a thousandfold.

I still remember when I began journalling and, after just an hour of writing, figured out the underlying issue of some of my behavior. Understanding it on a rational level helped me untangle the mess in my mind, clear my head, and process it emotionally.

5) You’re not afraid to admit you’re wrong

So, if you’re self-aware, you’re very likely to be intelligent. But how can you be sure that your self-awareness levels are high enough?

Think of the last time you made a mistake. How did you act? Did you admit to it, apologize, and learn from it? Or did you stubbornly stick to your guns even though it was obvious you’d already lost the battle?

Intelligent people don’t lie to themselves. They know themselves too well for that. What’s more, they understand that admitting they are wrong is so much more graceful and honorable than sticking to a faulty opinion.

6) You read a lot

Naturally, this list wouldn’t be complete without books.

However, you don’t have to turn your home into a huge library just to classify as a smart person. One of the smartest people I’ve ever met spends most of his time reading research journals, articles on the internet, and Wikipedia.

You see, it doesn’t really matter what you read or what form you read it in. What matters is that you’re learning something new, and if you read a lot of fiction, you’re also dramatically increasing your empathy.

And guess what? Empathy is yet another marker of EQ.

So, if you recently shed a tear because your favorite fictional character died, it might actually mean you’re intelligent.

Amazing, right?

7) Your persuasion skills are off the charts

Only smart people can be very persuasive, and I’ll tell you why – in order to convince someone of your truth, you’ve got to have an extensive set of intelligence-related skills.

Empathy? Check. You have to understand the other person’s point of view first and foremost.

Social skills? Check. Confidence and excellent rhetoric are a must.

Factual knowledge? Check. What you say has to make sense on a logical level.

All in all, you’ve got to be smart both intellectually and emotionally to win people over. And that’s quite a feat.

Therefore, if you’re a master of persuasion, it’s very likely you’re also intelligent.

8) You display humility instead of arrogance

Do you sometimes doubt your intelligence or feel like an impostor?

That might actually be a good thing.

Hear me out. Based on the Dunning-Kruger effect, people with limited knowledge often overestimate how smart they actually are. If you reach an intermediate level in something and never move beyond it, you may think you’re actually advanced.

Intelligent people don’t think like that, though.

They’re so curious about the world around them that each time they find an answer to something, three more questions pop up. This means that they inherently understand how much they don’t know.

And if you’re aware of how limited your knowledge is, you’re not going to walk around boasting about it. You’ll display a healthy level of humility instead.

9) You talk to yourself

One of my high school teachers used to always walk around the hallways muttering to herself and scratching her head.

(Yes, she taught maths.)

At the time, we thought she was just weird, but as it turns out, talking to yourself is a sign of intelligence. In fact, research shows that it has great cognitive benefits.

If you mutter to yourself like a lunatic, it might mean you’re actually kind of brilliant.

What a result!

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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