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 Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

Most of us want to be successful (whatever that means). We want to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good worker, a good friend. However, often these goals are at odds with each other.

For example, to be a good worker, you might have to put in overtime, which means less time with the family. As a result, you might not be as good a spouse or a parent.

And what if the goal is to not be merely good but rather great or even outstanding in a particular role? Then your ability to be good at other roles becomes even harder. You might be only acceptable, or even worse, at other roles in your life.

In fact, it would seem that if you want to be really good at something, then by necessity other areas of your life will suffer.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can only be good at one thing. It is possible to be good at many things. However, the larger the list of things at which you are good decreases the number of things at which you might be great.

Therefore, it is important to set priorities. Determine which aspects of your life are the most important to you. Correspondingly, what are the areas that are not as important? Not that they aren’t important at all, just that they are less important.

This can be really difficult. There are probably some things that you really like that you have to be willing to sacrifice, in order to be better and more effective at what you decide is the most important. Perhaps you are willing to sacrifice your career for your family. Maybe you sacrifice sleep for a hobby. Or maybe a more fulfilling job is given up for a more lucrative one.

For your theoretical list, what are your most important goals? And what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve them? What are you not willing to sacrifice?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How do you define success? Why do we put up with unhappiness? How do you set priorities? What material possession means the most to you? What gives you purpose?


What Is The Value Of Inefficiency?

Everyone wants to be productive. Our jobs demand it, our busy lives require it, and our brains crave constant stimulation. But is there a value to wasting time? Of inefficiency?

Generally, different people use different methods to maximize their time spent on things. To-do lists. Productivity software. Comprehensive calendars.

If we feel overworked, that might stress us out, so our solution is to try and maximize our daily routine. Perhaps you can shave a few minutes off of making breakfast. Showering at the gym might save some time. Listening to audio books or podcasts during your commute allows you to make better use of wasted time.

However, there is some value to unstructured time. Having a tightly-packed schedule where every minute is accounted for is subject to disruption. An unexpected event can throw an entire day into chaos.

Beyond that, there is some indication that proper functioning of the brain requires some down time. After all, what is our need for sleep if it is not inefficient? For roughly eight hours each night we lie still in the dark, as our brains, through dreams, process events from the day or worries we might have. That’s not very good use of time!

Our higher-level, strategic thinking is not something that can be done while running errands or performing routine tasks. For that, you need to devote time to thinking. And sitting and thinking doesn’t appear, from the outside, to be very productive.

In addition, people need to have some time that is spent just relaxing. Just as a muscle can only work for so long before it needs to rest, our brains need breaks occasionally to function properly.

What is the proper balance between thinking and doing? Between productivity and relaxation? What is the value of inefficiency?

Related questions: Why do people like games? How important is the repetition in our lives? How do you set priorities? Are we too busy?

What Is The Biggest Risk You’ve Ever Taken?

Life can be risky. Sometimes, in order to succeed, you have to risk failure. Of all the chances you’ve taken in your life, which was the riskiest? How did it work out?

Share why if you wish.