Why highly intelligent people are unhappy
Now that we know that smart people tend to be deep thinkers and are more likely to suffer from various mental health issues, let’s explore some of the most prominent reasons why the highly intelligent seem to be generally unhappy and unsatisfied in life.
1. The Dunning–Kruger effect
According to psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias which makes intelligent people smart enough to realize how little they know about everything. It’s a psychological trick where the more knowledge we have about something, the less confident we feel about our mastery over that topic. Conversely, individuals who don’t possess little knowledge about something, usually feel overconfident about their abilities and competence.
In simpler words, dumb people don’t realize that they are dumb and smart people doubt how much they know. Hence, intelligent people are unable to appreciate themselves and feel generally unsatisfied with their accomplishments. As British philosopher Bertrand Russell said “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
2. Mental health issues
Highly intelligent people are usually more depressed and feel lonelier than people with average intelligence. As we have seen from the studies mentioned above, individuals with higher intellect are more likely to have various mental disorders and hence feel more unhappy with their lives. Moreover, they also tend to be lonelier than most other people.
In a Washington Post article, researcher Carol Graham from the Brookings Institution explains “Those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it… are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer-term objective.” Hence, smarter people often tend to isolate themselves from others as they don’t prefer wasting their time or energy on socializing which leads to further depression. In fact, they might even feel happier being alone than socializing.
Are you depressed? Read Mood Disorders Are The Price Paid By The Highly Intelligent And The Creatives
3. Inability to express emotions
Conveying our feelings and expressing our emotions are crucial for our mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, being highly intelligent doesn’t necessarily mean having higher levels of emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and regulate our emotions and realizing how they might affect others. However, it has been observed that highly intelligent people often lack the ability to express their feelings, emotions, needs and desires.
Moreover, according to research, smart people have a hard time developing close relationships and are hence unable to enjoy meaningful relationships. In fact, socialization can be a bigger challenge for them than loneliness. As they believe the world will be unable to understand their profound thoughts and emotions, they tend to keep everything to themselves.
Relationship problems? Read Why Highly Intelligent People Struggle to Find Love
Boredom could very well be another reason why highly intelligent people feel unhappy in their lives. As their minds tend to be highly active, it becomes challenging for them to keep their interest in a particular topic sustained for a long time. Hence, they tend to get bored easily. As they are constantly driven by newer and greater ideas, they keep moving from one project to another, without completing the previous ones most of the time. This often leads to a lot of dissatisfaction.
5. Overthinking and over analyzing
From anxiety disorder to depression, highly intelligent people often suffer from a number of psychological problems due to their tendency to ruminate and think too much. One study has found that higher “Verbal intelligence was a unique positive predictor of worry and rumination.”
As smart people are usually perfectionists, they over analyze and overthink every aspect of their work and life which can often adversely affect their productivity, decision making abilities and mental peace.
6. Excessive stress
According to Canadian scientists, individuals with higher intelligence often experience more stress than average people as they look at even the most mundane tasks differently. Due to their tendency to overthink, they often look at the negative aspects of simple daily activities and experience chronic stress even when they don’t have to.