What Is Intelligence?

Are you book smart, good at math, or a logic problem pro?  If so, you are likely labeled as intelligent.  We see people with a command of language, numbers, or puzzles as highly valued in society.

But is this definition of intelligence too limiting?  Could there be different ways to measure the capacity of a brain?

Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, argues in his theory of multiple intelligences that there are eight different intelligences.  They are:

  • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  • Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
  • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

What is intelligence?  How could society benefit from a broader view of what it means to be smart?  How would we be different?  On a personal level, how are you smart?  (Traditional intelligences are okay too.)

Related questions: How Do You Learn? How Are You Special?  When Is It Useful To Fail?

What Is Uncomfortable But Rewarding?

There are a number of things in life that we might find uncomfortable. Discomfort can be found all around us, in both our personal and professional lives.

These can range from something relatively innocuous (say, an itchy sweater) to something more serious (like an inappropriate joke at work). For the most part, we experience discomfort for a reason. Typically, it is an indication that something is wrong.

Sometimes, however, a feeling of discomfort can be prelude to an improvement of some sort. Most people like things that are stable, and events or people that upset that stability, even in the process of making an improvement, can be disruptive. Change is uncomfortable.

Over the last decade or so, disruption has even become a buzzword in the business (and tech) world. AirBNB has disrupted the hotel industry. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Used in this way, the word “disruption” suggests a change introduced that may cause chaos to an established industry or service, but ultimately leads to a better product for the consumer.

What are some other examples of something that starts out being awkward or difficult, but ultimately lead to positive change or growth? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we tell “positive” discomfort from the “negative”?

Related questions: When is a lie justified? When is it useful to fail? Why do we put up with unhappiness? When is doubt helpful?

 

What Makes You Curious?

Maintaining a sense of curiosity can make your life more interesting. Being curious can help you maintain wonder. It can help you appreciate life. It can help you learn more.

In addition, there is a lot to learn. The world is a wonderfully complicated place. From human behavior to the natural world, from the microscopic to the cosmic. There is more in this world to be curious about than there are people to wonder about it.

However, what topics pique your interest can vary wildly. What you were exposed to at a young age may have helped determine your interest. Or perhaps your family’s interests may be yours as well. Thought leaders, like teachers or politicians, can help set a life course. For example, after President Kennedy challenged the U.S. to put a man on the moon, children all across the country went into science programs.

Thinking about and expressing those things that make you curious can help you to lead a more fulfilled life. In other words, choosing a career or even a hobby based on what fascinates you can make your life better.

There are seven to eight billion people on this planet, and each one has a unique set of interests.

What are yours? What makes you curious?

Related questions: Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do you learn? What makes you the happiest? What is your favorite Intellectual Roundtable question?

What Is Your Voice?

Finding your voice is crucial in any artistic field. It is what makes you different from anyone else, what helps you stand out in a crowd.

In music, where the term “voice” originated, a singer’s voice is their calling card. You can often identify a song based on just a few notes from a distinctive vocal. It is even possible for a musician to have a distinctive instrumental sound — a musical voice with no actual voice!

Similarly, an author works hard to develop a literary voice. Once it has been discovered, you can often identify an author solely by reading a page of their work. The vocabulary that is used, description, dialogue, cadence, sentence and paragraph length all can help to uniquely identify a writer.

The same thing holds true for other artistic pursuits: drawing, painting, sculpting, acting, etc.

However, when an artist is just starting out, they don’t yet know what makes them stand out from others in their field. How are they different? It is only through repetition that one discovers, or uncovers, their own distinctive perspective.

The idea carries over outside the arts, as well. Each person is different, from their DNA to their experiences. The way that they express themselves, the way that they interact with the world, will be distinctive individually.

Anyone who has gained some experience in an area can have developed their own voice. For example, a veteran computer programmer, may produce code that you can identify (provided you can read code!). A mother with several older children will parent differently from any other mother.

What areas of expertise do you have? Have you developed a singular vision and expression, artistic or otherwise? What is your voice? Are there ways other than practice that you can develop it?

Related questions: How do you define success? What makes you you? How important is the repetition in our lives? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?