6 Reasons Why Intelligent People Fail to Be Happy

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fail to be happy

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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Anna LeMind

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.

Copyright © 2018 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.


  1. Dan March 13, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Spot on!

    I’ve been trying to articulate how I feel for most of my life. This article spells it out perfectly.

    Now…. the real question… what is to be done?

    80 plus years seems a awfully long time to spend on a planet I really don’t understand.

    Answers on a postcard please.

  2. Khanh March 23, 2018 at 6:38 am - Reply

    If we are happened to be in this situation, what are possible solutions that we could do to overcome the overthinking, how and what could we do to be happy?

    • Amy May 7, 2018 at 1:25 am - Reply

      I have had great success with Minfulness practices including Yoga.

  3. cristina April 23, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Appreciation. Appreciate things, small things, seemingly mundane things, appreciate it all. And jump! Don’t be afraid to fail-jump in

  4. ronald-trip May 4, 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    How can we not despair at our own finiteness in a universe apparently devoid of any meaning? No matter what effort we put in, we will all be annihilated by the sands of time. The human lifespan is approximately 80 years. Even if you succeed to make a mark in your lifetime, the process of forgetting the totality of who you are starts at the moment you blow out your last breath. Alexander the Great is nothing more today than a name and a set of anecdotes. Who he really was? No one alive today to tell us that.

  5. Victor May 6, 2018 at 4:52 am - Reply

    My over-thinking can lead to unpleasant uncontrolled thoughts and emotions. For me, moderate amounts of alcohol can help slow down my thoughts; but I avoid excess. More physical activities rather than staring at screens and monitors also help.

  6. Amy May 7, 2018 at 1:32 am - Reply

    I think that our happiness on many levels relies on relating to others and to their ideas and thoughts, highly intelligent people have a hard time doing this. I suggest, from my own experience, making learning to relate to others and to appreciate and not dismiss their ideas a priority, use it as a study. Look for the merit in the thoughts of others, it can enrich our own experiences and help us to feel more connected to the people around us and thus our reality.

  7. Iffah June 3, 2018 at 3:30 am - Reply

    this article spoke my mind for me. Thank you soooo much. I think we can all start by reducing our overthinking and overanalyzing and wanting perfection all the time. Also, one could rephrase the word “intelligent” here to “bright and realistic”.

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