6 Reasons Why Intelligent People Fail to Be Happy

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Have you noticed that some of the most intelligent and deep thinking individuals out there fail to be happy?

They may have a loving life partner, family and be successful in their job; yet, there is something that occasionally makes them feel alone, sad and discouraged. As Ernest Hemingway said, “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Here are six possible reasons why happiness in highly intelligent people is such a rare phenomenon:

1. Intelligent people overanalyze everything

Many people with a high IQ tend to be overthinkers who constantly analyze everything happening in their life and beyond. This can be draining at times, especially when your thinking processes take you to undesirable, frustrating conclusions.

Have you heard the saying, ‘Ignorance is bliss’? It surely is – the less you understand, the more carefree and, therefore, happy you are. Being able to read people’s true selves and hidden motives is enough to make you feel disappointed with the whole world sometimes. Not even mentioning the feelings that come along with the reflection on philosophical matters, global issues and life’s timeless dilemmas that have no solutions.

2. Intelligent people have high standards

Smart people know what they want and don’t settle for less than that, no matter what area of life we are talking about. This means that it’s more difficult for them to be satisfied with their achievements, relationships and literally everything that has a place in their life.

Moreover, many people with brilliant theoretical minds happen to have poor practical intelligence and somehow idealistic views of the world. So when their expectations face the raw reality of life and other people, it inevitably leads to disappointment.

3. Intelligent people are too hard on themselves

Another reason why smart people fail to be happy is that they tend to be too strict with themselves. And here, I’m not talking only about one’s achievements and failures. Intelligent, deep thinking individuals often analyze themselves and their own behavior in such a rigorous manner like if they are intentionally seeking out things to blame themselves for.

Sometimes, you just lie there in your bed trying to fall asleep and suddenly recall a situation (which probably happened years or, at least, months ago) when you didn’t act the way you should have. This is enough to mess with your sleep and spoil your mood.

Intelligent people often experience such kind of flashbacks into their past mistakes. All this cultivates guilt, discontent and other negative emotions that can poison one’s happiness.

4. Reality is not enough

People with high IQs never cease to seek something bigger – a pattern, a meaning, a purpose. The deepest and the dreamiest of them don’t stop there – their restless mind and imagination don’t let them just relax and enjoy “the good things in life.” I guess the reality with its trivialities is just too boring for them. Such people crave for something fantastic, idealistic, eternal… and, of course, never find it in the real world.

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong here and should have lived in a different era or maybe on another planet? Deep thinking, highly intelligent people constantly feel this way. How can you be happy when you feel like a stranger to the world you live in?

5. Lack of deep communication and understanding

Being truly understood by someone is one of the greatest experiences a human being can have. How comforting it is to sit with a like-minded person somewhere quiet and have a meaningful conversation, realizing that this person understands your ideas and shares your views of the world…

Sadly, intelligent people rarely have this pleasure. Many of them feel alone and misunderstood, like if no one is able to see and appreciate the depth of their minds.

It’s now scientifically confirmed that in order to be happy, individuals with high IQs need less socialization than those with average levels of intelligence. However, it doesn’t mean that smart people don’t crave for human interaction and a good conversation. They simply prefer to talk about fascinating and meaningful things rather than discuss food, weather and one’s plans for the weekend.

No need to say that nowadays, it’s particularly difficult to find a person to have a deep conversation with. Thank today’s consumerist and materialist society for that.

6. Many people with a high IQ suffer from psychological problems

There have been many studies that link psychiatric disorders, such as social anxiety and bipolar, with high IQs. Could it be that these conditions are a kind of a side effect of a creative genius and a brilliant mind? Who knows, science is yet to unravel the mysteries of the human mind.

At the same time, the intelligent people who don’t suffer from any mental disorders are still prone to so-called existential depression, which often is a result of excessive thinking. If you are thinking all the time and analyze everything in depth, at some point, you start reflecting on life, death and the meaning of existence. Sometimes, it’s enough to make you want to re-evaluate your own life and, as a result, get sad for no obvious reason.

Can you relate to the struggles described in this article? What other things, in your opinion, make intelligent people fail to be happy? Share your thoughts with us.

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About the Author:

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website Learning-mind.com. She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.

208 Comments

  1. needacatalyst December 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    My parents did what they knew to do. I have to be thankful that I am where I am instead of being upset at them for their own damage.

    I am on the spectrum. I am smarter than my parents. My mother took pride in my ability to internalize new information and regurgitate it at will. My father was proud but tended to favor confrontation and authority where intelligent discourse would have served him better.

    The depressing ability to extrapolate worrisome outcomes from any set of environmental givens developed early. It didnt help that at various points in my life people tried to make it difficult for the kid who had difficulty picking up on social cues to understand the world around me. If monsters aren’t real, why does mom jump during the scary movie? Mom is crying but when I ask her if she is okay, she says she’s fine. I learned that parents are not only capable of being incorrect, but they are also capable of lying to me while telling me not to lie.

    The point is that when you have an intelligent child, it is important to teach by example because they may be extrapolating a lot of logical information from watching you. It is important to mean what you say, as well. Saying something in anger to someone who remembers everything is a good way to build resentment and mistrust.

    My parents never used words like “ennui,” “morose,” “depressed,” “ambivalent,” “intrigued,” or other more appropriately connotative synonyms for more general states of mind like “sad” and “upset” so I didnt learn to use them, either until later. I was never encouraged to use large words at home. My family has never discussed a book together although both parents seems to enjoy sci-fi and fantasy.

    We have to teach these things to ourselves. We must be our own advocates. Make a list of the things that your parents didnt know that you needed to know and then imagine the conversation where you were given that information at an earlier point in your life. Take one concept and introduce it to yourself from your early memories and see how that information may have been used as you trace your path to the present.

    If a concept is useful enough, it will have begun integrarion by the end of that exercise because you’ll have already demonstrated its utilitarianism to your subconscious.

    “If my parents would have developed my relationship with food better, I would be a healthier person overall.”
    With a hypothesis like that, I can imagine situations in which I was allowed to make unhealthy choices as a child. I then imagine my present-day self (or an idealization) imparting knowledge to the child me in the form of words, thoughts, emotions, or even a comforting embrace, should this be an “eating your feelings” situation.

    I know that this practice doesn’t change the past, but it seems to alleviate some of the future difficulty.

  2. Pimp Ho Pastor December 11, 2018 at 4:08 am - Reply

    The author is talking from a personal perspective. Maybe her own or a friends life that is suffering from loneliness. This is unfair at the very least to smart people. Sometimes smart people do not follow their own advice. This does not make them smart but rather acting stupid since they know the right thing to do. Or they simply do not believe in themselves even though they are smart. They give good advice to everyone else. The could mentor a rocket scientist but can not mentor themselves although having the self resources. Do she considers herself a intelligent person? Why certainly she does. Why does she write. Smart people write. Smart people does possess the ability to self entertain themselves. They are the creators of our society. But they also can fall to depression and suicide if they compare themselves to average people. The author is intelligent. If not why are we listening to her. She has already proven herself of that I sure. Its okay to be confused I always say. Its knowing what to do when you are confused is the matter. At that point a intelligent person has to figure it out. A intelligent person does not need other peoples opinions. They just do not need other people opinions that’s all. It seems she is bashing smart people. What Gives! Intelligent people or wise people know exactly what to say. Believe me I understand but I think the author should not have targeted intelligent people. More like people with a cognitive biases or some kind of disorder. But needless to say truly intelligent or wise people do not have a disorder. Their fine. It is the people that are not intelligent enough to listen to their own advice that’s the problem. Whether anyone believes this or not intelligent people are special. They see things other people do not. Do not get me wrong the post is damn good except for the above reasons. It is very thought provoking that is how I know only a intelligent person wrote it. However, intelligent persons make mistakes only when they rush to fast. Otherwise this would be a perfect post in my belief.

  3. Pimp Ho Pastor December 11, 2018 at 10:09 am - Reply

    One Word: BOOK!

    I HAD TO TAKE THE TIME TO STUDY THIS ARTICLE A SECOND TIME.

    I FEEL I CONNECTED WITH THE AUTHOR ON SOME LEVEL. CHANCES ARE EVERYBODY THAT COMES TO THIS WEBSITE ARE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE WHO HAVE THIS PROBLEM AND COULD BE HELPED BY THIS POST.

    IN CONCLUSION I THINK THAT THE AUTHOR DESCRIBES A INTELLIGENT PERSON THAT COULD NOT FIGURE THE WAY TO BE HAPPY OUT.. BUT THIS POST MAY HELP WHICH WOULD MAKE THE INTELLIGENT PERSON BE ABLE TO OBTAIN TRUE HAPPINESS.

    I HONESTLY FEEL THAT A BOOK IS IN ORDER BUT NOT WITHOUT INCUDUNG A SOLUTION FOR A INTELLIGENT PERSON TO OBTAIN HAPPINESS..

    THIS DOES DESCRIBE A PERSONALITY DISORDER OF SOME TYPE. ALTHOUGH NOT DIAGNOSED I THINK I KNOW THE SOLUTION.:

    THAT INTELLIGENT PERSONS JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT THEY ARE A MASTERMIND. THEY CAN ONLY BE HAPPY IF THEY ARE 100% IN CONTROL AND DOMINATE ALL SITUATIONS. WITH THEMSELF AND OTHERS.

    WE WOULD NOT HAVE A ORGANIZED SOCIETY, CULTURE, COUNTRY OR WORLD WITHOUT HIGHLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.

    Unfortunately we have evil geniuses. But that’s why there’s a bad and a good.

    THANKS FOR THE POST!

  4. Aline Silverman December 12, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    In many ways I agree with this article since i recognized myself in this description of intelligent people. Yes it can be very lonely at times. However with age I have learnt to compromise. I have very few friends and only because I have learnt to love people for what they are…In a way I have completely changed jy way of seeing things. “INTELLECTUALS especially the self professed ones bore me.
    On one point I totally disagree with you. Yes intelligent people tend to be more depressed but THEY UNDERSTAND their situation whereas ordinary people can feel rotten and incapable of managing themselves.
    In one word I have swapped intelligence for WISDOM.

    • Pimp Ho Pastor December 13, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

      You agree with the author that intelligent people cannot find happiness. Then you totally disagree with the author that intelligent people cannot figure things out.

      Look the author is not God. She could be wrong but she cannot be both. She failed to target a person with a cognitive bias. Instead she target intelligent people. And also being intelligent is the same as being wise.
      Either you agree with her or you don’t.

      Either intelligent people can find happiness or they can’t.

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