7 signs you’re exceptionally smart, even if you don’t feel like it

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Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not that smart”? Well, think again! 

Intelligence is not just about acing tests or having all the answers. It’s about the subtle ways we interact with our world and ourselves. 

This article is for those who might not see themselves as geniuses but are, in fact, exceptionally smart in more ways than they realize. We’ll explore 7 signs that highlight your hidden intelligence. 

And remember, intelligence is not a fixed trait; it’s a quality that can be developed and nurtured all throughout life. 

Let’s dive in and discover the brilliance you’ve been overlooking in yourself!

1) You’re curious and inquisitive

Curiosity is the fuel of intelligence. If you find yourself always asking questions, seeking new information, and wondering “why” or “how,” you’re displaying a key trait of exceptional intelligence. 

Inquisitive minds don’t just take things at face value; they delve deeper, seeking the underlying principles and ideas. 

This trait is not confined to academic pursuits; it’s evident in everyday life. Maybe you’re the person who reads the ingredients on a food package, not just out of habit, but to understand what you’re consuming. 

Or perhaps you’re always exploring new hobbies, not just out of boredom, but to genuinely grasp new skills and ideas. 

A study even found a correlation between higher IQ and openness to new experiences. 

Paradoxically, intelligent people often feel they know very little because their quest for knowledge continuously unveils how vast the world of information is. 

But intelligence is not about knowing everything; it’s about the desire to know and understand more of an active, engaged mind. 

So, if you’re always the one asking “why” in a group, remember, that’s your intelligence shining through, always pushing you to learn and understand more about the world around you.

2) You’re highly adaptable

In a world that’s constantly evolving, the ability to adapt is crucial. This is what helps us not only survive, but also thrive — when our environment gets too cold, we create clothes and find ways to insulate heat.

This is a type of intelligence of its own, and some would argue, that’s what true genius is all about.

I definitely agree — if you know all the facts and data in the world but you can’t keep yourself healthy or create a happy life for yourself, can you really call yourself smart? 

Being adaptable means you can adjust to new situations, challenges, and environments with ease and efficiency. 

You might recognize this in your ability to pivot when plans change, or if you’re quick to learn new software at work, or even if you’re just good at adapting to a new social circle.

Whatever the case, you don’t get consumed by frustration or expect the whole world to adapt to you. You start learning new skills needed, asking for feedback, and gradually improving.

You can look at a new situation, quickly understand the dynamics, and figure out a way to fit in or make it better. 

3) You tend to self-reflect

Most people have an impressively skewed image of themselves, inflating their successes and detaching themselves from their faults.

On one hand, this is very useful, as it helps promote a positive self-image, which is very helpful for happiness and motivation in life. 

But on the other hand, it’s quite obvious how delusions can lead to some major challenges and bad decisions. 

The real superpower, as shown by many successful and intelligent professionals, is the ability to self-reflect. This involves looking inward, being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding your motivations and emotions. 

It’s a process that allows you to recognize your blind spots, consolidate feedback from others, and capitalize on your strengths. 

By regularly engaging in self-reflection, you gain a clearer understanding of where you stand in various aspects of your life. It also helps you set realistic and achievable goals. You’re not just dreaming big; you’re planning smart. 

In essence, self-reflection is not just a sign of intelligence; it’s a tool that sharpens and directs it, ensuring that you are always aligned with your true potential and making the most out of your life.

4) You enjoy solving problems

If there’s any constant in life aside from change, it’s problems — and it’s something all types of intelligence have in common. 

For example, emotional intelligence helps you manage your emotions and navigate social situations.

Physical intelligence helps you effectively challenge and improve your body and when to give it needed rest. 

No matter what kind of intelligence you’re dealing with, its ultimate proof lies in your ability to handle a certain type of problem better. 

Of course, that doesn’t automatically make it all fun. After all, who would want to have more problems in life? They can be frustrating, saddening, and frightening to have — and it’s okay to feel all that.

But below all those emotions, you have the drive to work through them and to make things even better than they were before.

And the light at the end of the tunnel is the thrill of patching up a conflict with a colleague, the satisfaction of fixing a broken gadget at home, or even the pleasure of plotting the most efficient route for a full day of errands. 

Deep down, your mind understands that these challenges are momentary obstacles, but more importantly opportunities for lifelong growth — something which you thrive on. 

5) You think before you speak

We’ve all said things that we’ve immediately regretted, and perhaps wondered why we even said them.

And the truth is, we are hardwired to do that. Our primal instincts often urge us to react swiftly, much like our ancestors who, upon encountering a lion, couldn’t afford the luxury of contemplation but had to act immediately. 

In modern life, these ancient brain circuits sometimes compel us to speak in the heat of the moment, especially when strong emotions surge within us.

That’s why the ability to think before you speak is a sign of great intelligence, though often under-appreciated. It requires significant self-awareness and control. 

Imagine being in a heated discussion where you feel your emotions rising. Instead of immediately responding, you take a deep breath, allowing yourself a moment to process. 

This pause gives you the chance to formulate a response that is both thoughtful and constructive, turning a potentially volatile situation into a productive dialogue. 

Many effective communication experts earn a fortune from trying to teach this to people — and it takes a great deal of maturity and a willingness to grow in order to learn. 

6) You love learning

Ah, learning! It fills your mind with such possibilities. It’s like exercise for the mind, and sustenance for the soul.

Learning is the ultimate sign of intelligence, and it is also what fuels it. No matter where you start in life, you can get anywhere you want through the vehicle of learning. 

This goes way beyond formal education as we know it in the form of school and degrees. It’s what compels you to stay at home curled up with a good book rather than go out drinking. 

It’s the joy with which you sign up for a new online course or webinar. It’s what makes you want to get better at any skill, or try out a new hobby. 

It’s even present in the way you dissect scenes from your favorite series, wondering why the characters acted the way they did, and piecing together their personalities from their decisions. 

The love of learning permeates all your conversations, making you yearn for deeper topics where you can really delve into a topic rather than just talking about food and the weather.

This passion ensures you never get stuck in life, but will always continue to grow — and it is also what helps you see the light in every challenge you face, making life much more interesting and enjoyable to experience. 

7) You have a great sense of humor

Did you know your ability to make people laugh is a big sign of intelligence too?

That’s right — multiple studies have linked having a great sense of humor with high intelligence. Interestingly, particularly dark humor has a strong correlation with being smart.

Humor is more than just telling jokes; it’s about understanding the complexities and nuances of language, culture, and human psychology. 

Crafting a joke or a witty remark requires quick thinking and the ability to see connections that others might miss. It’s a form of mental agility, a dance of words and ideas.

Moreover, humor, especially of the darker variety, often involves a sophisticated understanding of irony and satire. It requires the ability to process and communicate complex ideas in a way that is not only insightful but also entertaining. 

This sort of cognitive gymnastics is no small feat; it demands a sharp mind and a keen understanding of the human condition.

So, the next time you find yourself making a room full of people chuckle, remember that it’s not just your comedic timing that’s at play – it’s a reflection of your intelligence.

Recognizing your inner brilliance

In recognizing these signs in yourself, you’re not only acknowledging your innate intelligence but also embracing the potential to grow it further. 

Intelligence isn’t static; it’s a dynamic, evolving attribute. 

So, take pride in these traits and remember, your journey of intellectual growth and self-improvement is always ongoing, full of endless possibilities and opportunities to shine even brighter.

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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