In this article we will have a look at the eight signs you may be a lot smarter than most people. We’ll also learn what intelligence is, and the common personality traits of smart people. If you don’t have time to read the whole post, you can skip to the list of signs.
What is intelligence? It’s a very common word, and we’ve all used it countless times, however there is no standard definition. Though it’s a simple word, it can refer to different things, and there can be many interpretations of what intelligence truly is.
In general, you could say that intelligence is the ability to learn and apply knowledge; adapt to external changes (including problem solving); understand abstract, complex concepts; and come up with new ideas.
However for a broader definition of intelligence you would have to take into account other factors. Someone may excel at logic but have poor emotional intelligence (the ability to recognize and change your emotions in a positive way).
Similarly, a very smart individual may not be able to “see the big picture”, which could lead him or her to the wrong decisions too often; someone who is able to comprehend extremely complex information may still fail to understand some basic facts about life in general.
Does IQ mean anything?
The term IQ was coined by psychologist William Stern in 1912 to define the scoring method for intelligence tests. A person’s IQ is usually calculated with tests that measure their memory, problem solving skills, pattern recognition, and mathematical skills.
Though studies have shown that, on average, there is a clear link between IQ and academic or job performance, some say IQ tests cannot assess intelligence in a broader way: for instance, they cannot assess creativity, social intelligence, or musical intelligence.
Also, the tests should be taken multiple times as there are many factors that can negatively affect the score. An extremely intelligent person may not be able to perform well because of many reasons, including lack of sleep, external distractions, anxiety, or even brain fog caused by digestion.
Personality traits of intelligent people
As we’ll see in a bit, highly intelligent people are usually introverted. This means that they prefer the company of a few close friends rather than large groups, and that they are quiet most of the time. Because their ideas are often very complex, innovative, or creative, they may keep them to themselves as others wouldn’t understand them.
Apparently, those who are extremely intelligent tend to be either very organized — to the point where their room, house, or office is perfectly tidy — or the exact opposite. Their environment can be either neat and orderly, or very chaotic.
Another personality trait of intelligent people is open-mindedness and humility. Though these people are able to process information way faster (and consequently know more things) than the average person, they also realize that no matter how much they learn, their knowledge will always be very finite.
They also tend to be more aware of their own cognitive distortions — inaccurate thoughts about a certain event or situation — which means they are flexible, and able to challenge their own thoughts.
Finally, highly intelligent people tend to have a good sense of humor. They are able to spot incongruencies or mistakes almost instantly, and then think of funny analogies or metaphors. As a result, their jokes are often hilarious, clever, and slightly surreal.
Is intelligence related to depression?
Though some studies suggest there is a correlation between high IQ and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, it is not clear whether the results are accurate.
What we do know is that being extremely intelligent can make it harder to socialize and be spontaneous. As we’ve seen already, very smart individuals often choose not to share their thoughts with others simply because they would be too difficult to understand.
They love to spend time on their own projects and ideas, so naturally they like to be on their own. Moreover, a lot of people are intimidated by those who are very clever, and subconsciously perceive them as a threat, so they reject them. As a result, highly intelligent individuals can end up being alone most of the time.
As for being spontaneous, it can be hard for those with high intelligence because, put simply, they tend to overthink. Though their exceptional analytical skills can be useful, thinking too much or too often can be overwhelming.
These two factors — loneliness and overthinking — are probably the reason why extremely intelligent people may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, and mood disorders in general.
Eight signs of extreme intelligence
1. Exceptional problem solving skills
Not surprisingly, most IQ tests require you to solve complex problems. Most people are able to execute simple tasks and solve practical problems in their life, however those who are extremely intelligent can find solutions to very complex issues.
Often, their solutions will be just brilliant and will take into account factors everyone else did not consider. They may also come up with multiple solutions, and be able to address the root cause of the problem rather than finding the quickest way to solve the problem.
2. Exceptional self control
Highly intelligent individuals tend to have more patience than those with average intelligence. They are able to think long term and focus: they are not easily distracted or disturbed by external stimuli.
Moreover, they are not impulsive. They think before they act, and don’t let their feelings get out of hand. Self control and discipline are essential for reaching goals, which is one of the reasons why those with a high IQ are often capable of achieving great results at work or in their studies.
Gifted individuals love to research, read books, learn new things, and work on their projects. Their brain needs to be stimulated often; everyday tasks and activities could be too boring for them. As a result, they may not feel the need to engage with others.
Psychology defines introversion as the tendency to focus your energy toward the inner world rather than the external world. Considering that highly intelligent people are always full of thoughts and ideas, it’s easy to see why they tend to be introverted.
4. Being a good listener
Highly intelligent people like to observe everything around them. They are contemplative and thoughtful. When they have a conversation with someone, they really like to listen to, and understand, what the other person says.
Just like they carefully analyze information, they also like to pay attention to other people’s words, thoughts and ideas. This makes them very good listeners.
5. Pattern recognition
If you pay attention to your environment, you will be able to find patterns in almost everything. It could be symmetry, circles, spirals, fractals, or tessellation. You can find patterns in nature as well as artificial objects and buildings.
One of the key skills of extremely intelligent individuals is being able to see patterns everywhere, within seconds. Intelligent people will be able to recognize even the most complex patterns — for instance, those in IQ tests.
6. Laser like focus
One of the traits of gifted people seems to be laser like focus. When they work on something, they aren’t easily distracted: they put all their energy on their current task and ignore external distractions.
Besides high IQ, one of the possible explanations of this is that intelligent individuals find complex information interesting. While most people would hate to spend a lot of time studying a difficult subject, a highly intelligent person could actually enjoy immersing themselves in the subject, thus be more focused.
7. Very good memory
Intelligent people observe everything around them with great intensity. When they see something that attracts their attention, they are able to remember it for a very long period of time. On the flip side, they may pay less attention to the things they dislike, and forget them quickly.
IQ tests have shown that there is a correlation between memory (short term and long term) and overall intelligence.
The eighth and final sign you may be very intelligent is if you have above average creativity. Not all smart individuals are creative, however almost all creative individuals are smart.
Creativity is defined as the ability to use ideas, imagination, and intuition to build new things. Though creativity is usually linked to art — music, architecture, painting, etc. — it can also be used in any other discipline. If you find it easy to use your imagination to discover new possibilities, you may be more intelligent than most people.
Signs of extreme intelligence: summary
Typically, highly intelligent people:
- Can find brilliant solutions to complex problems
- Are not impulsive, and have very good self control
- Are predominantly introverted and like to spend time on their own
- Are very good listeners
- Recognize patterns in everything they see
- Have laser like focus
- Have good short term and long term memory
- Are very creative
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