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6 Reasons Why Smart People Cant Find Happiness

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Happiness is the feeling of contentment and satisfaction that is craved by many but only achieved by some. Happiness is relative and subjective. But for many successful individuals, the presence of a great family life and a flourishing career is often not enough. On some occasions these do not prevent an smart individual from feeling a sense of loneliness, often sadness and melancholy. 

Here are six psychological reasons why smart people have a harder time finding happiness. 

  1.  Intelligent people over-analyze

Many individuals with high levels of intelligence often over think and analyze everything that occurs in their life and surroundings. While their ability to analyze things is a great asset, the constant analysis of everything often lead to frustrations especially when coming up with an undesired conclusion.

Being able to see through people’s intentions is a burden that most people don’t get to carry. Oftentimes, knowing how ugly the real world is like is disappointing and frustrating. Not to mention, the timeless dilemmas of global and philosophical issues that seem to have no solution is a constant mental plague. In this case, the saying “Ignorance is bliss” is true.

  1.   Intelligent people have high standards

Smart individuals often hold everything with high standards. The failure to reach these standards often leads to frustration and disappointment regardless if it is their career, relationships or anything else that they hold important in their life.

The idealistic view of the world and poor practical intelligence of people with brilliant theoretical minds often have trouble coping with the raw reality of life. When faced with issues that contradict their expectations, this inevitably leads to feelings of great disappointment.

  1.   Intelligent people are extremely self-critical

Unhappiness for highly intelligent people also stems from their deep-thinking nature. Not limited to their success and failures, these individuals rigorously analyze and compare themselves to higher standards that they unintentionally seek reasons to blame themselves.

Intelligent people often experience flashbacks of events that have happened years, sometimes months ago, of situations which they believe they behaved poorly or inappropriately. Negative emotions such as guilt and discontent fills their mind and disturbs their mood, dousing out any form of happiness of the person.

  1.   Intelligent people are overly ambitious

People with high intelligence cannot be satisfied with what they already have. Their complex mind gives them the ability to seek something bigger and better, a purpose. These people fail to enjoy mundane things in everyday life is because their minds crave something stimulating and fantastically idealistic that cannot be found in the real world.

This is often manifested by inability to accept the time and space they belong to. They feel that they are living in the wrong place at the wrong time. That everything could be better, but just isn’t.

  1.   Intelligent people are often misunderstood

Everyone yearns to be understood and accepted. The comfort of having meaningful conversations with a like-minded person, one who shares the same ideas, worldviews and philosophies is priceless. Most intelligent people hardly ever find someone who can connect with them. This makes them feel alone and misunderstood, that no one is capable of seeing and appreciating the deep brilliance of their minds.

While it is scientifically proven that people with high levels of intelligence don’t need to socialize much as average intelligence people to be happy; still, the human need to interact is still there. People with high intelligence simply prefer to talk about meaningful and fascinating things rather than trivial subjects such as food, weather and other people. This is believed to be the result of the consumerist and materialist society.

  1.   Intelligent people often develop psychological issues

There have been many studies that found links between psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorders and bipolar disorders with high intelligence. Although it is not really a certainty whether or not these disorders stem from having a brilliant mind, however, it cannot be fully denied either.

Those intelligent people who do not suffer from mental disorders, however are still prone to existential depression. This is often the result of extensive analysis of everything that, ultimately, leads to self-reflection on life, death and purpose of existence. This can bring forth feelings of sadness for no obvious reasons.

Ultimately, people hold the key to their own happiness. The circumstances that surround a person plays a big part but not entirely determine how he perceives happiness. It’s a matter of perspective and priority. What are your thoughts about this? Let us know down the comments!

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How Consumerism and Materialism of Modern Society Make Us Unhappy, Lonely and Unconfident retrieved from: http://www.learning-mind.com/consumerism-and-materialism-unhappy/

New Study Reveals the Real Reason Why Smart People Are Better off Alone retrieved from: http://www.learning-mind.com/why-smart-people-are-better-off-alone/

Why Deep People Often Feel Alone and Misunderstood (and What They Can Do about It) retrieved from: http://www.learning-mind.com/feel-alone-and-misunderstood/

Why Intelligent People Can’t find Happiness: https://themindsjournal.com/intelligence-happiness/

Why smart people are better off with fewer friends retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/18/why-smart-people-are-better-off-with-fewer-friends/

All images belong to their respective owners.


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  1. Hmm…as someone who likes to consider themselves intelligent I found this article…interesting and maybe slightly insulting but it did bring a lot of self evaluation. I do tend to have very high standards and over analyze but I don’t necessarily see how it’s a bad thing? I mean I definitely can see how these can lead to self destructive behavior but I guess I’m not fully convinced. I think this article needs more scientific sources before you just over generalize a type of person. What are the parameters for this? what categorizes as “intelligent” because like happiness, that too is subjective. Also you’re title and main sentence don’t really correlate, the title says intelligent people can’t find happiness but your topic sentence says that they just have a harder time so which is it? Again, I think this article is informative but it’s missing more scientific backing so maybe add more articles and by finding those articles you can possibly push this further and explain how an intelligent person could possibly combat these destructive behaviors.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing! This was really insightful.
    Now I know that the goal for this article was just to expose the reasons why smart people are often unhappy, but what about things specifically catered for the highly intelligent mind that these people can do in order to come closer to happiness? Is there anything that works to simmer down such internal chaos?

  3. I have proven and been told of my intelligence, even tested high I.Q. wise as a young adult. I worked a complicated, stressful job for 36 years, most of the time very depressed and lonely. It eventually caused me to retire at 59 years old and divorce my wife of 30 years. Now I am off anti-depressants and abilify, just creating my own projects and loving life. I never realized my intelligence could become such a disability, life is too precious to live that way, what a shame to suffer silently for so long…..

  4. Often been told that I am an intelligent (for my age:17) by people, reading this is interesting and relatable…to an extent. Though I am moderately happy in life, it Is unsatisfying. Unsatisfied seems a better choice word unhappy because my belief is not one person can achieve true happiness-no matter how much the claim to be so.

  5. This is a great article. I suppose people tell me I’m intelligent often enough so I find it interesting that I can identify with every bullet point presented. It’s nice to have these traits explained so and is reassuring that I’m not alone with the way I feel. Thanks for a helpful article!

    • Thank you! Glad you found the article helpful. Please support our other writers by reading other articles on the blog and sharing our work! 🙂

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Written by Khole

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My name is Khole. I mainly focus on Human Relations, Clinical and Abnormal Psychology as well as Psychological Research. My perspective is a combination of Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Gestalt.

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6 Reasons Why Smart People Cant Find Happiness