10 rules intelligent people follow to elevate their life

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

We’re taught everything we should know from when we’re younger, from counting numbers and reading to excelling in different fields of expertise – we have report cards and regular assessments to gauge how much we’ve learned.

But as we grow and navigate life as adults, we deal with tougher challenges.

Our ability to make difficult choices and learn from life is constantly put to the test with more serious consequences.

Our intelligence is measured by how we assess situations and take full command of our lives.

Being intelligent can elevate our lives by having peace of mind, gaining meaningful relationships, and staying resilient amid life’s struggles.

If you want some quick reminders about how you can be intelligent, here are 10 rules to follow:

1) Always Be Eager to Finding Lessons, Even in the Most Unexpected Situations

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates

You can find lessons everywhere, even in the most unexpected places.

Don’t let your prejudice or even the slightest bit of preconceived notions get in the way of you learning these lessons.

You may not know it, but you may need these lessons along the way.

This also applies to the people you meet every day.

You may be smart, but you may not want to let it get the best of you and think you’re above anyone else, keeping you from learning important life lessons.

You can’t know everything in the world. By being arrogant, you lose the chance to discover new things.

I used to be in the same situation when I got my first job — the people in the office weren’t on the same wavelength as me.

I also believed I was smarter than everyone.

But I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to keep an open mind and get to know them. They taught me many different things, and I even gained good friends along the way.

2) Speak Your Mind with Tact

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill

You can see a person’s wisdom through their actions, especially how they talk.

Intelligent people speak their minds and share their ideas and opinions about various topics.

They add value to their conversation. They’re great to talk to because you can bet that you can always learn something new.

Intelligent people tend to be opinionated, letting you know what they think from the get-go.

But they’re also careful with their words and don’t intend to offend or humiliate other people.

They can change other people’s minds with sound arguments and not impose or humiliate others only to feel superior and prove their point.

3) Be Empathetic

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” – Daniel H. Pink

Intelligence is more than just learning a lot of things fast and being able to develop new ideas.

It’s also about having the ability to put yourself in others’ shoes and imagining what they must have felt or thought.

Intelligent people are smart, but they don’t forget how to be human.

They have grand ideas for changing the world and influencing others.

This comes from having a deep understanding of life and other people’s struggles.

Before you change minds for the good of your workplace or community, you might want to understand first where they’re coming from.

I know it can be hard to open your mind to things that are new to you or different from what you think – it takes a lot of patience and understanding.

But being empathetic also allows you to respond and act appropriately to different situations and establish meaningful relationships.

4) Get Involved in Your Community

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Intelligent people aren’t content with what they read from books – they want to see it for themselves.

Their eagerness in discovering new things and applying everything they’ve learned in practice drives them to get involved with their community.

They help societies unite and work together for the common good.

This doesn’t have to be anything grand. A simple gesture of caring for others and doing small things like volunteering, participating in fundraising and activities, donating, or simply listening can make a difference.

Intelligent people are empathetic, and they know it’s a bigger world out there.

I used to think I already knew a lot about everything – I’ve read about different things from books and articles and have theorized about various concepts.

But after talking to people from impoverished areas in my community, I gained a deeper understanding of situations I’ve only encountered in studies and statistics.

Meeting and listening to them made me realize even more how important it is to give back to your community in your own way.

5) Think Before You Act

“A fool is made more of a fool, when their mouth is more open than their mind.” – Anthony Liccione

Intelligent people think about their options deeply before acting on them. They don’t make rash decisions based on raw emotions.

This is because they deeply weigh the consequences of their actions and know they’re responsible for them.

They exhaust all options, and if there isn’t anything left, they try to come up with other ideas.

If intelligent people should take risks, they make sure they’ve calculated the chances the best they can.

I know it’s easy to get impulsive and make decisions at the spur of the moment. These choices and actions seem right at first.

But all it takes is to pause and take deep breaths. Consider different scenarios that can happen with everything you do because these things can have consequences graver than they seem.

6) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

“The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth.” – Peter Abelard

Intelligent people aren’t afraid to ask the right questions.

They’re inquisitive because they want to know about things and fill possible holes and gaps in what you’ve said.

They also get curious about a lot of things.

Some people sometimes misunderstand those asking them way too many questions as doubting them.

But this actually means intelligent people want to engage with you.

Not hesitating to ask questions can elevate your life because it allows you to connect and be on the same page with people around you, from those in your workplace to your loved ones.

7) Don’t Get Hung Up On the Things You Can’t Change

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” – Randy Pausch

Many of us may think we’ve got everything under control because we already know everything we need.

But unfortunate things and accidents can still happen.

We still make mistakes we didn’t really mean and only realize their gravity when we’re faced with their consequences.

And we tend to think countless times and punish ourselves for the things we should and shouldn’t have done.

But intelligent people realize there’s no use getting hung up on things that have already happened.

No matter how smart you are, you can’t undo the past. This doesn’t make us any less intelligent or reliable – it only makes us human.

8) Learn from Your Mistakes

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Intelligent people may not have dwelled in the past, but they make sure to take with them important life lessons to learn from.

They aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve done something wrong. Anyone can be smart, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make mistakes.

Intelligent people also won’t make excuses or blame others only to avoid accountability.

Intelligent people learn from mistakes and hold themselves accountable to make things right.

This is because they’re empathetic enough to realize the repercussions of what they’ve done.

They also know that learning from mistakes is a painful process of becoming a better person.

9) Live with Integrity

“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” – John Holt

Intelligent people not only learn fast and have many ideas about different things.

They also have a deeper understanding of life and empathize with people.

Because of this, they have a firm set of principles to live by and take utmost importance in the value of integrity.

Intelligent people strive to keep their actions consistent with their words.

They always try to keep being honest, kind, and respectful.

Even when they’re faced with the toughest challenges, they still try to stick to their values and never think of taking the easy road that’s against their principles.

This allows them to be trusted by most people and establish and maintain meaningful relationships.

10) Strive to Change for the Better

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

Everyone learns to be intellectual after dealing with tough life challenges and learning from their mistakes.

Intelligent people strive to change for the better and won’t allow arrogance, selfishness, and other vices to keep them from growing into well-rounded individuals.

They know that learning is a life-long process, and there’s always room for development.

Improving yourself from the arduous process of learning from life lessons allows you to navigate life with more confidence, peace of mind, and resilience.

It keeps you grounded with meaningful relationships that serve as your happiness and anchor.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

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.

10 signs that show you’re a classy woman everybody respects

10 personality traits of people who are humble (and don’t need to brag about it)