Yesterday’s post about maladjusted intelligence triggered a lot of comments. I’m blessed to have lots of intelligent readers, and it is easy to notice that the percentage of intelligent folks who struggle with their emotions isn’t much lower than the percentage of those of average intelligence. It does seem to me that they are doing better than those of lower intelligence, but opinions on that vary.
But the question: “if I’m so smart, why aren’t I happy?” or “If I”m so smart, why aren’t I successful?” would seem to underlie the issue. Its rather like a weightlifter saying: “if I”m so strong, why can’t I lift object X, which other, less intelligent people, seem to lift with ease.” In other words, it triggers doubt, leading to impostor syndrome a fragile ego, and depression masquerading as superiority complext.
It is the wrong question. A more accurate comparison would be “If I’m so strong, why can’t I run fast?” The image of the “muscle bound” athlete comes to mind, usually the minds of the ignorant. Because the fastest, most dynamic athletes are MUCH stronger than the average person–but that strength exists in balance with other qualities like endurance, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Intelligence is problem solving. I feel comfortable saying this because almost every means of measuring it is presented as a problem of some kind. According to the Dalai Lama, the meaning of life is to be happy, and therefore one of the core questions, the FIRST questions, should be: “how can I be happy?” Properly asked, this question leads to ethics, courtesy, honesty, self-knoweldge and human connection. Just keep asking, and observing people who are happy long term, and you’ll find the answers you need. Depending on how long you’ve been traveling the wrong road, it may take some time, but the effort is worth it.
While the First Principle would be to know and love yourself, the very next one is to know and love another human being. Relationships with others demand that we step out of ourselves, extend our own humanity, seek to understand how the world looks to them and introduces us to the idea that (as Larry Niven says): “There are other people who think just as well as I do, but differently.” Empathy with ANY other human being will do this, but across gender and culture lines it can be devastating to our world view.
Relationships with ANYONE else will do this, but a significant other is most important. Kids often struggle with real-world relationships, creating and sustaining close friendships. Video games, on the other hand, are a world in which you can create “pick up” friendships, “buddies” with whom you can engage in great adventures, even though you’ve never met them, and they really don’t know or care about you at all. The average person you meet in a video game would, if they heard you got hit by a car, might say “damn. That’s harsh.” And look for the next GTA Crew to join.
The same is true of casual real-world friends. Casual lovers. They can move in and out of our lives easily. Children open your heart amazingly, but that adult-child relationship, because of the power dynamics, will teach you a different category of truth than the adult-adult relationship. However, adult-adult relationships have been the root of all child production. A leads to B, but B doesn’t lead to A.
Relationships with parents also have a power differential that produces one category of growth, but not quite the same. Hugely valuable, both parent and child connections, but not the same.
And forget about pets, shall we? As much as we love them, if you think they are the same as bonded adult-adult relationships, I respectfully submit that you’re playing a very different game.
But the number of times I’ve seen hyper-intelligent but maladjusted people grow rapidly once they form a committed romantic relationship. A number of reasons:
- Living day to day with another human being exposes our true selves. When you are tired, sick, excited, angry, and so forth, your mask slips.
- Constant sexual relations with the same person demands that you deepen the connection, otherwise it becomes boring and one or the other will seek new partners.
- Sharing “roommate” duties forces you to connect on adult levels (business) . But you also have “kid” time of mutual play, and “elder” time when you parent or advise each other. This can be the broadest, healthiest, most complete relationship of your life.
- IF the relationship is healthy, love and sex and common goals creates an intimacy that will show you the soul of your partner. If you are sensitive to its beauty, you have to begin to ask how you attracted so wonderful a spirit into your life. This can turn introspection into healing and acceptance: “if this intelligent, good person loves me, I must be lovable.” To think you aren’t worthy of the love of your beloved it to question their judgement, and is an odd form of egotism: “hah! I’m smart enough to know I’m not good enough for them, and they aren’t!” You are putting yourself above them by putting yourself below them. It is a sick little game.
- You must learn to listen. Communication is the result of questioning and absorbing the information received, then being questioned in turn. Without this, even honest, ethical people get trapped in a maze of miscommunication, misunderstanding, different definitions of words and concepts, hallucination about past events or future plans. We are not psychic. Speaking or observing are about the only ways to know what is happening in another’s life. The only way to derive the basic principles driving their decisions, their sense of right and wrong. People who will not ask or answer questions honestly are not interested in communicating–they are playing a different game, and you need to decide if you really want to play it.
- You will learn to deal with heartbreak. Oh, yeah, you’re gonna get your heart broken. But if you learn, ask the right questions, model successful relationships, you will learn. And a good relationship is worth all the pain it took to get you there.
- Sex probably has the fastest baud rate of any human activity. In one package you learn more about someone’s intelligence, emotions, physical health, creativity, communication style, maturity, and almost any other quality you can think of. At blistering speed, from initial contact through social negotiations through “breaking frame” by initiating physical contact, through first sensual intimacy (hugs or kisses) through foreplay, sex, afterplay and cuddling, and the way they deal with the emotional aftermath of the connection. Every stage reveals a vast range of information, and if you pay attention BOY do you learn.
- Perhaps because sex is so important to the continuation of human life, it also conveys a vast range of non-reproductive benefits. That’s a subject for another time, but a relatively mundane exploration of this arena can be found in the “Miracle of Sex Transmutation” chapter of “Think And Grow Rich.” To make a simple statement here, if every major world religion uses something as simple as breathing to transform consciousness, consider what happens when you play with the most powerful positive sensation your nervous system is capable of processing. The implications are staggering.
Those are just a few morning thoughts about why the second rule is “love another person.” It goes way beyond these, and touches the spiritual realm, but let’s just say that loving another human being deeply will teach you more about yourself than any other activity common to human beings. Probably more than anything other than deep meditation or introspection, something relatively rare.
So there are thoughts. The very intelligent person who asks “how can I be happy?” will probably be led to “how can I love and be loved?” which will lead to paths of healing, giving, sharing. To tears and laughter. To caring about another human being more than you care about maintaining appearances. The ego cannot compete with such power, and it leads most human beings to growth. Not all…but probably more than any single human experience under our conscious control. We can DECIDE to have a relationship. Decide to find someone to share our lives with.
And that decision, if we will seek understanding about the ways to succeed in this, can be the best of our lives.