12 things you don’t realize you’re doing because you’re a naturally smart person

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.

There are many things you do that may be smarter than you realize. 

It’s easy to assume that everybody has similar habits and responds to situations similarly, but it’s not the case. 

In fact, if you have the following habits and approaches to life it’s likely because you’re naturally smart. 

You don’t even think about doing these things, you just do. 

But these are smart characteristics! 

1) Being continuously curious 

Curiosity is the hallmark of an intelligent mind. 

Even when you’re feeling down or confused, there’s a part of you that wants to know more and discover new things. 

This part of you is your innate intelligence. 

Think of people you’ve met who seem to know everything or have a wide breadth of knowledge from trivia to more in-depth facts and analysis. 

They weren’t born with it:

They learned that knowledge over the years, and the part of their personality that led to it? Curiosity and wanting to know. 

2) Learning from mentors and pros

When you’re curious, you can learn from almost anyone. 

Even those who are pushy and say untrue things a lot are people you can learn from, since they’re examples of what not to do if you want to learn. 

If you find that you enjoy learning from mentors and pros, it’s a sign of your natural intelligence. 

Being around folks who are passionate and informed fills you with interest and you’re patient in hearing them out and finding out more. 

This is a hallmark of your own inner ability to hear people out and listen to what they have to say, as well as to accept guidance and new information. 

It also leads me to the next point… 

3) Active listening and attention to detail

If you’re not a particularly attentive listener, don’t worry:

You may still be brilliant. 

But active listening is almost always a sign of significant inborn intelligence. 

I emphasize active listening, because there are those who listen with mainly indifference or apathy don’t fit the bill. In fact just indifferent listening is not a sign of intelligence but just of not much to contribute. 

Active or engaged listening, by contrast, listens with attention to detail and an actual desire to hear what’s being said and the desires, fears and deeper reasons behind what’s being said. 

4) Feeling empathy for others

If you care about others, it’s actually a sign of above-average intelligence. 

The reason is simple:

Caring about what happens to other people and what they’re going through is more than just compassionate or kind, it furthers survival. 

From our earliest origins, humans have been tribal animals. Caring about the wellbeing of others and their survival often had a direct impact on your survival. 

It still does. 

When you pay attention to what’s going on with other people, you pay attention to a situation and learn a lot about how to adapt to it yourself. 

Which brings me to the next point…

5) Ability to adapt on the fly 

The only constant in life is change, and the ability and willingness to adapt on the fly is vital. 

When you’re naturally smart, you learn to adapt without much time. 

  • A job falls through, but you’ve already been investigating a different option and are ready for it…
  • A relationship goes sideways, but you’ve already been changing so much as a person that you react without making it worse than it has to be…
  • Reacting to problems and arguments that come up with understanding, patience and insight instead of just denying them or reacting impulsively… 

6) Willingness to be introspective and reflective 

Part of the reason that you’re able to adapt so well is that you know yourself.

Your self-awareness continues to grow and you’re willing to be introspective and reflective. 

Questions like: 

“Why did I really do that?” Or “How do I really feel about this person?” don’t scare you. 

In fact you ask them all the time, because you want to reflect on your emotions, identity and actions in order to understand yourself better. 

7) Cultivating humility and limiting ego

Becoming more self-aware and learning more about how you interact with others takes a lot of humility. 

But when you’re a naturally intelligent person you realize that life really isn’t all about you:

That’s just a fact, and you come to learn that it’s actually a good thing. 

Your ego has a purpose and self-interest and self-benefit certainly matters, but it should never be put ahead of common humanity and life experiences. 

When you’re smart you learn to think with your head and your heart instead of just directly from self-interest. 

8) Enjoying your own company

Do you enjoy your own company? 

My honest answer would have been “so so” in my 20s, but nowadays I’d have to say I honestly do. 

When you’re naturally intelligent you are self-aware and humble, but you also come to enjoy being around yourself. 

This is in a sense of being self-sufficient and not codependent, as opposed to narcissism. 

It’s a matter of being open to friendships and more connections but also being quite satisfied and happy being on your own, too. 

9) Judging people as individuals 

When you’re naturally intelligent, you judge people as individuals. 

You see people first as an individual rather than outer characteristics and you don’t judge and label people in reductive or even overly positive ways just because of their identity markers. 

Just because somebody’s from your religious group doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily connect with them:

Just because someone else is the same ethnic group as you doesn’t mean you’ll hit it off, either. 

Rather than seeing people by their group affiliations (chosen or unchosen), you see them as who they are:

Complex, unique and different in each case. 

10) Joking to lessen tension and facilitate connections

No matter how bad your jokes are, if you understand the power of humor then you’re smarter than you think. 

Laughter can cut the tension in a room faster than almost anything. 

It can facilitate new introductions and make everything more pleasant and easygoing. 

In business, in your personal life and in almost every way imaginable (except for extremely sad or grave situations), humor is usually well-received. 

When you can make somebody laugh (or try), you have a smart sense about connecting to others and making a positive impression on them. 

11) Thinking outside the box 

Thinking outside the box is something naturally smart people do without realizing they are. 

They just do it. 

When you’re quite ahead of your time, others may find some of your ideas or ways of looking at things “strange” or even “bizarre.”

But many technologies, social changes and ideas which were once considered totally unlikely to occur have now occurred. 

When you think outside the box it’s usually something you just do without even really intending to do so. 

It seems totally normal to you. But that’s because you’re smarter than you think!

12) Committing to those you love 

Commitment is difficult, especially for those who’ve been hurt in the past or fear bad consequences in the future. 

But if you’re the type who’s willing to commit in the right circumstances it actually shows immense intelligence. 

Think of it this way:

If you want others to go all in for you, sometimes you have to go all in for them. 

If you recognize these 10 signs, you’ve probably lost your way in life 

10 signs you’re deeply loved, even if it doesn’t feel like it