Why intelligent people tend to be unhappy

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posted on May, 30 2008 @ 02:47 PM
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This was very interesting and I wanted to share it with everyone here.


Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
- Ernest Hemingway, author and journalist, Nobel laureate (1899-1961)
Hemingway, who took his own life in 1961, knew his share of both intelligent
people and of unhappiness. He lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, four wives and an unknown number of failed romantic relationships, none of which would help him to develop happiness if he knew how. As Hemingway's quote was based on his life experience, I will base the following speculation on both my personal and my professional experience as a sociologist. Not enough study exists to quote on this subject.

Western society is not set up to nurture intelligent children and adults, the wayit dotes over athletes and sports figures, especially the outstanding ones.While we have the odd notable personality such as Albert Einstein, we also have many extremely intelligent people working in occupations that are considered among the lowliest, as may be attested by a review of the membership lists of Mensa (the club for the top two percent on intelligence scales).

Education systems in countries whose primary interest is in wealth accumulation encourage heroes in movies, war and sports, but not in intellectual development. Super intelligent people manage, but few reach the top of the business or social ladder.

Children develop along four streams: intellectual, physical, emotional
(psychological) and social. In classrooms, the smartest kids tend to be left outof more activities by other children than they are included in. They are "odd," they are the geeks, they are social outsiders. In other words, they do not develop socially as well as they may develop intellectually or even physically where opportunities may exist for more progress.

Their emotional development, characterized by their ability to cope with risky orstressful situations, especially over long periods of time, also lags behind that of the average person.

Adults tend to believe that intelligent kids can deal with anything because they are intellectually superior. This inevitably includes situations where the
intelligent kids have neither knowledge nor skills to support their experience.
They go through the tough times alone. Adults don't understand that they need help and other kids don't want to associate with kids the social leaders say are outsiders.

As a result we have many highly intelligent people whose social development
progresses much slower than that of most people and they have trouble coping with the stressors of life that present themselves to everyone. It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of prison inmates are socially and emotionally underdeveloped or maldeveloped and a larger than average percentage of them are more intelligent than the norm.

Western society provides the ideal incubator for social misfits and those with
emotional coping problems. When it comes to happiness, people who are socially inept and who have trouble coping emotionally with the exigencies of life would not be among those you should expect to be happy.
This may be changing in the 21st century as the geeks gain recognition as people with great potential, especially as people who might make their fortune in the world of high technology. Geeks may be more socially accepted than in the past, but unless they receive more assistance with their social and emotional development, most are destined to be unhappy as they mature in the world of adults.

People with high intelligence, be they children or adults, still rank as social
outsiders in most situations, including their skills to be good mates and parents.

Moreover, they tend to see more of the tragedy in the communites and countriesthey live in, and in the world, than the average person whose primary source of news and information is comedy shows on television. Tragedy is easier to find than compassion, even though compassion likely exists in greater proportion in most communities.

Source: Writing by Bill Allin

-Kdial1




posted on May, 30 2008 @ 02:49 PM
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Theres a saying, ignorance is bliss.

Happiness isn't a destination or an indicator of who or where you are socially, its a state of mind. I can laugh and cry in the space of hours and my intelligence or social status would not of changed. I dont believe you can measure happiness or say which group is happier than the other. If your goal in life is to find happiness you wont ever find it. Enjoy the moment, appreciate where you are and what you are doing now. Be glad of your friends and family theres so many cliches i could go on all day. But its a simple concept appreciate where you are now, it could be so much worse and life can be so much shorter.

[edit on 30-5-2008 by R-evolve]



posted on May, 30 2008 @ 03:11 PM
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reply to post by R-evolve
 



That was inspiring, thanks R-evolve


-Kdial1



posted on May, 30 2008 @ 11:20 PM
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True..

Real happiness is never found in the future or the past, only in the present. Constantly thinking about the future or the past usually brings worry, stress, fear and other negative emotions.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 12:31 AM
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reply to post by kdial1
 


I have to disagree with your premise that intelligent people are less happy than the norm. You state that this is based on your personal experience, and your professional experience as a sociologist. I hereby stipulate that you have correctly assessed those you have encountered in your milieu (it would be rude of me to claim that I know more about your experiences than you do).
But, what I got to say, in my experience the intelligent people are happier.
(Not that I think happiness is any kind of goal, myself, I go for brutal efficiency and occasionally in the place where another person might feel happiness I experience a certain grim pride in workmanship:cool
. In my areas, the intelligent people have been more independent, more self-directed, more free. They have the resources to develop their own stand-alone creative/artistic/intellectual pursuits, which other people pretty much can't spoil or take away from them, whereas dumber people get bored when left alone with themselves, they can't put sufficient of their own coloration on their surroundings, so they have to find something more external to scratch themselves with (thus less under their control than the self-directed intelligent person's area) like public opinion, glamour, money/non-money dominance games, endless emotional melodrama.
But I guess that is just one subset.
But anyways summing up, in my areas the smart are stronger faster harder and richer than the dull or the normal.
So I'm thinking, maybe my anecdotal sample is biased, or maybe yours is. Wickedly I think maybe sociology depresses the intelligent, or maybe your city has bad drinking water. Or maybe the spectre of the tragedy of the intelligent fulfills some subterranean emotional need in the congeries of your psyche, making you an unsuitable observer. (And of course the same goes for me, I could be the bad judge).



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 12:36 AM
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Because western society is concentrating on intellectual attributes rather than emotional and spiritual attributes. That is why if you say intelligent person you usually refer to someone who is intelligent intellectually but not necessarily emotionally or spiritually.

I'm sure people who are emotionally and spiritually intelligent, are happy people.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 12:56 AM
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The more stupid you are, chances are you are more happy. It is because stupidity begets Ignorance.

The more intelligent you are, the more aware you are of the dangers in the world that not only threaten you, but the ones you care about.

Granted, the way you were raised and the kind emotional support you got from your parents will be a determinate factor on how you handle stress.

Stress is the father of depression. Intelligent poeple worry more as they are more aware of the dynamics at play in the world. The simpleton only worries about their next hair-cut or party they are going to attend.

The intelligent person worries about saving the world and having a future. The dumb person is ignorant and thinks everything will be just fine.

In Western society, the more stupid are worshipped and there are umptine examples from sports to movies celebs. They are even asked what their views are on an intelligent topic as if to say they have some crediblity for this.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:18 AM
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Actually, even though I loved this thread, since it started this whole conversation...I beg to differ with you about key points to your well thought out argument and perhaps I can add something to it.

Maybe I went to the only public school like this...but all of the smart kids were the most popular and the best in sports. I had the great experience of going to school with the same folks from kindagarten on.

We knew by 2nd grade which students were the smartest in the entire school from all the testing they did back then continuously. And because they put us in thinly-veiled "color" groups...stacked by intelligence, reading and comprehension and math skills etc.

The "smart kids" were also the best looking for the most part, and excelled in sports and music, were class president, secretary, treasurer, the most popular etc and won the most athletic awards.

The social misfits at my school were the less intelligent, the most lacking in social skills, and the ones who were loners and didn't join in any particular clique, after school activity or sport.

Maybe this is the exception to the rule? But I doubt it, since I grew up in the heart of the mid west, and attended a public school until college?

Now what's interesting about this....my school district spawned a lot of well-known people...well maybe not A list...but a lot of movers and shakers in the Sports world, etc...I could drop a few names in a few categories....but what I think is valid about your argument is, none of these folks is happy and some have met somewhat tragic circumstances, due to their "unhappiness" I guess you could say.

Drugs, scandals in the sport's world with steroids, alcohol abuse, kids that had it all, looks, brains, money, laid low by alcohol, fame, insecurities that lead them to such behavior...very interesting and something I never really thought about until just this very second in posting this.




[edit on 31-5-2008 by LateApexer313]



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:25 AM
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Funny, I could say the same. The "smart kids' in school were all *perceived* as being smart. They studied around the clock day and night for that new promised vehicle at graduation. Their parents were on the school board. They got lots of attention and gimmes from the teachers.

Alot of high school is memory work, not true problem solving. Problem solving is Math and Computer Science, Engineering.

Have you seen some of the IQ scores in sports? There is one for Football and these guys (outside of a select few quarterbacks) are as dumb as rocks. The same goes for all other sports. There is nothing money can't buy from grades to freedom (OJ).

[edit on 31-5-2008 by jetxnet]



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:25 AM
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Originally posted by LateApexer313
Actually, even though I loved this thread, since it started this whole conversation...I beg to differ with you about key points to your well thought out argument and perhaps I can add something to it.

Maybe I went to the only public school like this...but all of the smart kids were the most popular and the best in sports. I had the great experience of going to school with the same folks from kindagarten on.

We knew by 2nd grade which students were the smartest in the entire school from all the testing they did back then continuously. And because they put us in thinly-veiled "color" groups...stacked by intelligence, reading and comprehension and math skills etc.

The "smart kids" were also the best looking for the most part, and excelled in sports and music, were class president, secretary, treasurer, the most popular etc and won the most athletic awards.

The social misfits at my school were the less intelligent, the most lacking in social skills, and the ones who were loners and didn't join in any particular clique, after school activity or sport.

Maybe this is the exception to the rule? But I doubt it, since I grew up in the heart of the mid west, and attended a public school until college?



ive got to disagree. at my current school, loners and outcasts are the intellectually superior, and often, that fact goes unnoticed actually because of the mere fact that they never speak with anyone.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:29 AM
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reply to post by TornPages
 


Yes, well I am talking about a full 20 years back at least, from your experience, and that makes a huge difference I am sure...but I graduated from high school in 1982. Things were a lot different back then. I am sure the times from when I was in school compared to your school experiences now are vastly different.

Maybe the OP is talking about schools now, that would make more sense then



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:59 AM
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I've always said all the dopes walking down the street with the big smiles on their faces have nothing but air between their ears.

Even in the best of times, an intelligent person is aware of the obstacles before them, both anticipated and the un-anticipated. The thinking person is troubled by what they cannot control. Most can funtion in society with no problems, and even have extended periods of contentment, but they are always calculating repsonses to the unseen problems the world will throw at them tommorow.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 03:58 AM
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Happiness comes from within. I think emotional intelligence has a part in making people happy (realizing what really makes them happy and what doesnt) but in the end, I think life experience is key.

When you know who you are and like it, its easy to be happy. Its also very easy to reach this goal of liking yourself. You just need to stop comparing yourself to others in areas where you cant compete.

If you are not good looking, then accept it and stop obsessing about it. Maybe you are good at making people feel good about themselfs. Maybe you are a really good friend. Maybe you are good at finding smart solutions. It doesnt matter really. We all are good at something. Pat yourself on the back for being good at whatever it is you are good at.

And turn off the brain poison for gods sake! Television! Do you have any idea how much it damages your ability to appreciate yourself with its warped ideals, commercials and other messages you get fed every second?



[edit on 31-5-2008 by Copernicus]



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 07:46 AM
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Let me put it this way. Some intelligent people tend to look for their happiness in outside circumstances, but fail to do so as mentioned by jetxnet and others in this thread. They see the negative side of things, the dangers etc.. and worry about that.

You will never ever be happy by focusing on outside circumstances, it comes from within as mentioned before, and you can be happy by just enjoying the present moment in time. Just be in the state of mind where you are happy. It's easy for some, yet difficult for most people due to the indoctrination we have had since childhood that we have to depend on what's going on around us and be focused on the future for us to be happy.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 07:53 AM
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There is no mystery here, nor any need for a long-winded spew...

Intelligent people tend to be unhappy because we are surrounded by morons.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 08:10 AM
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I believe I've met intelligent people that seem to enjoy life as best as possible...It would appear that this statement appeals more to people who are discontent and making the claims of intellectual superiority rather than those who are in the field. Humans behave differently from one another regardless of their education or economic status.



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:30 PM
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Timing is Everything

Intelligent people do not, as a rule, tend to be more unhappy than others.

Intelligent children (and intelligent adolescents) are often unhappier than their peers. This is because their intellectual development outruns their emotional development. They can see the consequences and ramifications of events and actions (their own and others') earlier and better than the less intellectually gifted can, but they cannot deal with that knowledge. They perceive, early in life, how much stupidity and pointless malice there is in the world, but they don't know how to rise above it. They readily understand how easily utopia could be achieved if only people would simply do as they would be done by, but quickly grasp the unhappy truth that people will rarely -- out of fear, opportunism, stupidity and malice -- follow the golden rule. They realize early that, despite the fact that felicity is within everyone's grasp, it will never be caught and held. And they realize these facts before they have the emotional maturity to deal with them. The less intelligent simply do not realize it until much later, when they are better prepared for it.

This situation prevails until late adolescence or early adulthood. Then things start to change.

The intelligence that brought them clarity of vision and understanding of the bitter truths of life can now, with the aid of maturity and experience, begin to show them how, in the midst of so much folly, bitterness and squalor, they might make their own lives and the lives of others better. It helps them overcome childhood conditioning, select between values to choose the best and truest, and learn better ways to live. It is also, of course, of enormous benefit in the business of earning a living.

From early adulthood onwards, life for an intelligent person generally tends to get better. That's because they tend to make better life choices. Meanwhile, their less intelligent contemporaries are still floundering in a slough of regret at opportunities missed or unrecognized, resentment against a world that seems to outsmart them at every turn, remorse over bad life choices, frustration at being trapped in the consequences of those choices, petty status squabbles and the endless consciousness of having missed out.

From the first quarter-century onward, intelligent people tend to be happier than others.

I'm generalizing wildly, of course, but then the premise of this thread is a generalization. Obviously, the particular circumstances and psychological makeup of an individual would have an equal or greater effect on whether a person is happy or not than their intelligence alone would. But I think that can be taken as read. All other things being equal, intelligent people are happier in maturity than less intelligent folk are.

* * *

Nobel prizewinner though he was, I do not think Hemingway was an intelligent person. His work, great as some of it is, certainly does not seem like the work of a particularly intelligent man. There is no ingenious plotting, no great depth of knowledge or thought and very little affection for the life of the mind displayed in any of it. What there is in it is a very great depth of feeling, and insight into feeling, combined with a unique ability to convey this depth of insight and feeling in very simple but beautifully structured language. But the feelings and insights presented are usually those of very stupid people. There are few intelligent characters in Hemingway's stories. In fact, sitting here at my computer with most of his ouvre on a shelf behind me, I can't think of a single one, and a look at the titles on the shelf does nothing to jog my memory.

Furthermore, he had absolutely no understanding of women. None. Like his contemporary and competitor William Faulkner (a far more intelligent writer in my estimation), he saw women as anima projections, not real human beings at all. The difference is that Faulkner's female characters had a genuinely human dimension (think of Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury or Lena in Light in August), while Hemingway's women only existed to copulate with his male characters, or refuse them and make their lives miserable.

Hemingway's life, like his literature, did nothing to suggest that he was particularly intelligent. He was talented to an amazing degree, but obviously burdened with feelings of sexual inadequacy and fear of not being a 'man' and just as obviously depressed most of the time. He was drunk a lot, too, and did some very, very stupid things in his life, not least the taking of it. Suicide is never a very clever solution, and Hemingway was an old man.

He was a great writer. But being talented and being intelligent are not the same thing.

[edit on 31-5-2008 by Astyanax]



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:44 PM
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Kudos to the OP for starting a very good discussion. Many good opinions and insights so far.




posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:48 PM
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reply to post by nine-eyed-eel
 

This is not my writing...It is Bill Allin's, just so you know. (That is stated at the end of the article) No I am not a socialogist. I am a Radar Systems Engineer....this is completely out of my field.

-Kdial1



posted on May, 31 2008 @ 01:53 PM
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A recent study found that people generally become less and less happy as they approach age 40, starting from childhood. Then they become more and more happy as they approach death. But I think highly intelligent people follow a very different path. I've known some extremely intelligent people who suddenly seemed to "get it" when it comes to life at about age 30-35. Being intelligent in childhood tends to stunt your development in some ways, but at about age 30 everything starts to fall into place and you're able to make up for lost time.





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