10 surprising signs you’re more intelligent than you think

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They say your IQ measures your intelligence.

And to a certain degree, it does.

However, the human mind is way too complex for such simple frameworks. Intelligence isn’t just about how well you do at maths or how much of a logical thinker you are. There is so much more to it.

Wisdom, emotional self-regulation, self-awareness, an open and curious mindset, creativity… these are all things that matter a great deal.

Want to know more?

Read on for the 10 surprising signs you’re more intelligent than you think.

1) You ask “why” questions

When kids hit the “why” stage of development, parents have to face all sorts of seemingly bizarre questions.

“Why is the sky blue?”

“Why does Dad have blue eyes and Mum doesn’t?”

“Why can chameleons change color?”

By the time you’re an adult, though, the knowledge you’ve accumulated and the routine you’ve set up easily make you forget just how fun it is to ask simple “why” questions.

But that’s precisely what sets intelligent people apart. They never stop asking.

Be it simple questions about eye color that eventually lead you down a rabbit hole of genetics or complex inquiries about solipsism, the main marker here is a curious mindset and a lust for knowledge.

You simply never stop learning.

2) You’re not scared of making mistakes

As you’re learning more and more about the world, you begin to realize that mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes, you will get it wrong.

And that’s okay!

Accepting that mistakes are a natural part of life is a glaring sign of wisdom and intelligence.

Instead of seeing mistakes as a hindrance, you approach them as you would a new friend – excited to find out which possibilities the encounter will bring.

Each error is a lesson, and each lesson is a step forward on your learning journey. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to keep going.

As long as you’re excited about life and have a sense of self-discipline, you know you’ll eventually get there.

3) You have a high sense of self-control and self-discipline

Speaking of self-discipline, research shows it’s an underrated sign of intelligence. A 2008 study invited participants to choose between an immediate financial reward or a delayed one.

The advantage of waiting? More money.

Those who chose to wait scored higher on IQ tests, demonstrating just how important self-control is when it comes to brains.

Emotional impulsivity is a big no-no.

4) Your EQ score is high

IQ isn’t everything. Sometimes, EQ – emotional intelligence – matters so much more, as is the case with the above-mentioned emotional impulsivity.

Take this study conducted by Harvard researchers, which found that teams consisting of people with high EQ work much more effectively than those comprising people with high IQ.

And what constitutes EQ, I hear you ask?

According to the psychologist and author of Emotional Intelligence, David Goleman, there are five attributes that determine your EQ:

  • Self-regulation (you don’t make rash decisions and know how to keep your emotions in check)
  • Self-awareness (you’re conscious of your weaknesses and strengths and have a deep understanding of yourself)
  • Motivation (you take the necessary steps to reach your goals)
  • Empathy (you feel for others)
  • Social skills (you know how to navigate social situations with ease)

Since EQ reportedly accounts for about 80% of your success in life, it’s vital to cultivate these five traits within yourself.

5) You see through people

An essential component of EQ is the ability to gauge social situations and see people’s intentions for what they really are.

Let’s say you’ve just been introduced to your friend’s new date. As you’re chatting and getting to know each other, something about him just feels…off.

The vibes aren’t vibing.

Maybe you’re just not a great fit. But maybe there’s something underneath, a quality you can’t quite put your finger on but can naturally sense anyway.

This ability to “feel out” others’ emotional energies is a sign of intelligence and excellent intuition.

6) You know that you know nothing

One of the best ways to tell if someone’s truly intelligent or just cocky is to see how well they react to being confronted with their own lack of knowledge.

A cocky person will pretend they know what you’re talking about, direct the conversation elsewhere, or put your opinion down just to compensate for their own feeling of inferiority.

An intelligent person will ask you questions. They will openly admit to not having expertise because they see no shame in not knowing.

And that is because there will always be things you don’t know. As Socrates once said, “I know that I know nothing.”

The universe is vast and the human species will probably never unveil all its secrets, so we might just as well come to terms with not knowing everything there is to know.

And this acceptance of limited knowledge means that…

7) You’re super open-minded

…to the point where people may call you gullible or naïve.

Why couldn’t there be aliens? Why couldn’t we live in a simulation? Why couldn’t magic exist? Why not? Is there proof? No? So how can we be sure?

An intelligent person is open to all the possibilities.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you believe in ideas supported by feeble arguments – thinking unicorns definitely exist even though you’ve never seen one is a sign of delusion, not intelligence

But you know that it’s impossible to dismiss something that’s not been disproven.

This also means your opinions aren’t set in stone. They are a fluid concept, transforming as you uncover more facts about the universe.

8) You use creative thinking to make your life easier

Being open-minded lends itself to highly creative thinking, which is yet another sign of intelligence.

Who’s surprised? No one?

Thought so. This is because the surprise lies elsewhere – it’s all about how you leverage your creativity to create shortcuts in life.

You work smart, not hard.

This means you can essentially afford to be lazy. I once saw a photo of a school assignment for children that said, “Write a question using the word why.”

The child wrote, “Why?”

And they were correct. 

Intelligence is an excellent tool to make your life as easy as possible, and you use it to its maximum potential.

9) You’re a worrywart

While intelligence lets you flow through life like a fish through water, it comes with its own hiccups. Sometimes, your brain sabotages itself.

Studies show that having an intelligent mind is correlated with rumination, worry, and anxiety. 

What can I say? Everything has a cost.

When you’re very intelligent, you see all the different consequences of your actions as if your life were a chess board. This easily leads you down the rabbit hole of worrying, more worrying, and then…yep, some more worrying.

On the flip side, being a little ball of anxiety might mean you’re highly intelligent, so it depends on your point of view.

10) Your environment is always a mess

Let’s wrap this up on a fun note!

Researchers have found that working in a messy environment has its uses.

One, it promotes a “release from conventionality”, giving rise to novel and unique ideas.

Second, it stimulates creative thinking and encourages a disregard for following the rules, which leads to originality.

If you’re very messy, your environment might be reflecting your creative mind that’s always brimming with fresh insights.

You might also just be too lazy to clean up.

I’ll leave the answer up to you.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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