12 signs you’re actually intelligent (even if you don’t think you are)

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Maybe you’re lucky and you found a group of friends that always help you out when you’re in trouble or when you have a problem.

They’re reliable people.

But one of the negative side-effects of that could be realizing that you might not be the brightest of the bunch.

It’s discouraging, having to ask them for help all the time.

You might start to wonder why you must be so dumb all the time.

But that might not be as true as you think.

In fact, you could actually be smarter than you give yourself credit for – you just haven’t realized it yet.

To help you out, below are 12 signs that tell you that you aren’t as clumsy or dumb as you think you are.

1. You’ve Unlearned Something

Some people go through life without changing their minds.

They might even make it a point of pride that they are decisive and committed to their beliefs.

But, as author and psychologist Adam Grant writes in his book Think Again, this behavior might make someone not as intelligent as they may think.

In the book, Grant mentions the head of Blackberry, the wildly popular phone in the early 2000s.

It was a breakthrough technology at the time – until the iPhone showed up.

The creator of the Blackberry could have capitalized on the appearance of an aggressive competitor, but he chose to stick to what he knew – and that cost him.

iPhones revolutionized smartphones while the Blackberry quickly became obsolete.

When you’ve doubted yourself or realized that your old ways of thinking might not actually be applicable anymore, you’re learning more than those that refuse to change their minds on things.

You unlearned your wrong ideas and learned something better and new.

2. You’re Always Asking Questions

One may think someone who’s smart is someone who understands things instantly. But that might not always be the case.

It might be smarter – and safer – to ask clarification questions after your boss tells you to do something, rather than come back to them with something they did not ask for.

Asking questions shows you’re curious.

The greatest minds have always been that way, from Einstein to Hawking.

Ironically, it’s those that refuse to ask questions and increase risk that may be less intelligent than you might think.

3. You Can Understand Opposing Arguments

When two people are passionately fighting about the right way to go about something, they may close themselves off to finding some common middle ground.

Say there are two people fighting over whether it would be a good idea to introduce a child to video games.

One may think that it would only cause them to be more violent, while the other believes it’s going to make them more creative.

If you can understand where both sides are coming from, and come to a compromise, you might be smarter than you think.

4. Others Have Mentioned How Creative You Are

Being creative is about thinking about the box of conventional wisdom. It’s about doing things that others didn’t think about doing.

Though you feel like you’ve always done something a certain way just because that’s how you felt about it, other people might not have thought it as obvious.

You might have found a loophole in an argument you thought was glaring, or how unnecessary a few steps were in a standard operating protocol.

It might have gone completely over other people’s heads, but not you.

5. You Don’t Mind Being Alone

This doesn’t mean that smart people hate socializing, nor does it mean only the less intelligent go out. It’s that those that are more intelligent tend to want to spend more time alone.

A study found that more intelligent people tend to actually experience lower life satisfaction the more they interact with others.

Maybe before you find that when you’re in a group and you have to solve a problem, you’d rather take some time away from everyone else to try to figure it out in your own head first.

You want to process it better without outside distractions.

This could be a sign that your mind might be working harder than others.

6. You’re Sensitive to Other People’s Emotions

Say someone at work messed up and it affected your own work.

Before lashing out, you notice their bloodshot eyes and overall deflated demeanor.

While others might not have picked up on this and let themselves get carried away with their anger, you might have held yourself back.

You quickly connected the dots in your head that this person might be dealing with personal struggles you don’t know about that’s affecting the quality of their work.

You realize you don’t want to add on to this person’s stress, so you instead keep it together and try to really understand them.

This sensitivity, as well as having an eye for detail, is something that most people don’t have.

7. You Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Being smart tends to be associated with knowing more things.

But one of the most important things to know, something that ancient philosophers and generals have been trying and failing to truly know, is themselves.

Knowing yourself is difficult. Who you are today might drastically change tomorrow.

Knowing what you want isn’t easy, and the strengths and weaknesses is often a struggle for people going into an interview.

But not for you. You know exactly who you are and who you aren’t.

8. Your Desk is a Mess

A study found that participants who had messier desks tended to be more creative than those with tidier ones.

This could hold true for you because you might have had your best ideas while you’re scrambling through piles of paper at your desk, reaching for just anything to write your sudden insight on.

Some of the greatest minds to have lived had messy desks and offices. After Einstein’s death, a photographer visited his office.

What he found was piles of paper and scribbles all over the place.

While this isn’t a direct indicator of intelligence (it could also mean one might just be lazy), it could definitely mean you aren’t like everyone else.

9. You Often Worry About Your Surroundings

When someone is intelligent, they tend to be more aware of their surroundings than most people.

They gather all this peripheral information to help them decide on the best decision to go with.

They aren’t going to sell their stocks yet when they can connect the dots to see that a certain company is about to hit it big.

This awareness also comes at a cost, however.

When someone intelligent knows more, they’re able to think of more ways of how something can go wrong.

If you find yourself worrying more about something more than your friends, that could mean that you know more of something than them.

10. You’re Well-Informed

Other people may only be basing their opinions off of what others show them, without doing their own research.

People advocate for politicians that have had shady backgrounds or continue dining at questionable restaurants without knowing how the chefs prepare the food.

If being smart is about knowing more, and if you know more about what goes on behind the scenes of something, then you might be smarter than most other people in this regard.

11. You Read Often

The wisdom and lessons you get from classic works of literature are irreplaceable.

While others spend more time scrolling through social media consuming shallow content, you find you’d rather immerse yourself in a good book.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett mentioned that reading has been one of his most important habits; he spends 5-6 hours every day simply reading and learning.

It’s what’s helped him become one of the most successful investors out there.

So if you’ve often got a book in hand, learning new things, then you might be much smarter than you think.

12. You Can Remember Small Details

You might agree that you’d make for a good eye witness if ever a crime occured.

That’s because you find you can remember tiny details of events, from the color of the clouds to the clothes people were wearing.

You can remember small scenes from movies you saw 10 years ago with great fidelity.

Other people might have even complimented you on your memory.

You might have surprised someone with a gift about something they remember mentioning only ever in passing.

They might not have even thought someone would remember what they said – but you did.

A study suggested that having good working memory could be associated with one’s intelligence.

Staying a Student

Being intelligent is more of a lifestyle than a static state to be in.

What you know today could be wrong tomorrow.

Since the world is unpredictable and new discoveries are being made every day, it’s important to keep updating what you know.

Those that choose to stick to old ideas that no longer apply to the current world might only be holding themselves back.

If you’re able to adapt to new ideas, understand different concepts from different people, you’re already putting yourself ahead of others.

The smartest thing you can always do is learn something new.

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.

Click here to find out more about Life Journal.

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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Written by 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. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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