For Smart Guys


Philosophy is refuge for those who refuse to be flesh and blood - Pook

Many people wear IQ and intelligence as a badge of honor. Is it rightfully so? Although a powerful brain can be a blessing, let's look at some of the ways in which it cripples who have it.

According to The Independent, "After comparing this with the statistical national average for each illness they found that those in the Mensa community [IQ over 130 for those who don't know - YE] had considerably higher rates of varying disorders. While 10 per cent of the general population were diagnosed with anxiety disorder, that rose to 20 per cent among the Mensa community, according to the study which published in the Science Direct journal."

You know what is fucking horrible for a masculine life? Anxiety. Masculinity means being a risk taker. A leader. Anxiety leads to inaction and uncertainty. This is the same with all types of neuroticism (neuroticism being proneness to negative emotions). Depression being a good example. Depressive episodes make things impossible to get things done. It's hard to be a stable rock when you're consumed by negative emotions. (If you look on twitter they brag that smart people are more depressed, as if it's a good thing).

(Side note: people make the mistake of confirming the consequent. They say "if smart people are more depressed, and I am depressed then I'm smart." This is a classic logically fallacy. Just because the confirming the second part of an "if, then" statement true doesn't make the first statement true.)

Again, according to The Independent, "research was based on model that suggests intelligent people with 'hyper brains' are more reactive to environmental stimulus and that 'may predispose them to certain psychological disorders as well as physiological conditions involving elevated sensory and altered immune and inflammatory responses''.

Essentially, your brain and body are working overdrive, super sensitive, and creating all sort of negative emotion (probably OCD and whatever as well), and giving you inflammatory symptoms, health problems, food allergies, autoimmune disease, etc (all of which also have negative effects on your testosterone production).

The precise brain that allows you to pick up on subtleties leads you to be more sensitive to your environment. The analytic mind that let's you carefully analyze things quickly leads you to overanalyze and become overly socially conscious and introverted. The thinking that let's you quickly solve problems leads you to be trapped in your head and overly introspective. The hardwiring that makes your brain such a powerful tool also has it running in overdrive.  

Additionally, there is another component to neuroticism where you receive a disproportionately large amount of negative emotion from failures and a disproportionately small amount of positive emotion from successes.

So, let's tally this up. As a smart person, you're more prone to negative emotion (anxiety, depression, more prone to healthy problems (making you lower testosterone), more introverted (extroversion is a masculine trait), overly environmentally sensitive, introspective, and when you try things, your failures hurt more than average, and your successful feelings are mitigated.

Not to say that every smart person has these traits full on, but even a few of these, or the traits at a lower level are pretty killer.

Let's compare this to guys to more typically masculine guys (maybe our typical "dumb jocks"). They don't think as much, they just try and do. They seem to be somewhat on "autopilot" but it's working. They get a lot raw feedback to figure things out. They aren't bogged down by their failures, they don't seem to really care. They don't get caught up in introspection about themselves and their flaws. They have an easy time talking to people, partly because they're extroverted and partly because they aren't in their heads. They're healthy and high testosterone and people can smell it, their lack of inflammation shows in their calmness as well. When things don't go their way they shrug it off.

This seems like it would be a better deal to our typical over thinker.

But the problem is... they're dumb.

And being dumb can be blissful ignorance, but you'll never have quite the same resources as that of a smarter person. A dumb person can never be as cunning. They will never be as good at figuring out the tough problems. They aren't as likely to advance through careers and positions you like and may have trouble keeping up with school or a career.

They still may end up having a great life.  But unfortunately, they're in a fragile position because when shit hit's the fan it will be a lot harder how to figure out how to put themselves together. Smart guys on the other hand can have a lot of fantastic characteristics. They're great problem solvers, can have fantastic wit, you can look at things in unique and creative ways, you have an entire tool belt of intellect at your disposal.

You just have be in control of your mind, putting it in a position that benefits you, and not let your mind control you.

Now, it's just a matter of being smart enough to embrace some of the dumbness.

Ditch the neuroticism, overthinking, and overanalyzing, and learn to take action and live.

Negative emotion does essentially nothing to help you in the long term and can give you a pretty miserable life. The negative feedback system is broken and can put you in a loop. This means we have to figure it out and become our own owners. If you are never able to act in the world you will get nothing accomplished either. (Carl from Black Label Logic has a funny example of the guy who does so much self improvement he learns 12 language, travels to 24 countries, reads 500 books, has 7 degrees, and gets laid 0 times because he couldn't figure out the technology to move him from 5'11 to 6'0.) 

Firstly, you need to adopt a mentality that allows you to take the same kind of uninhibited action that the dumb guys took. Here are some tips.

  1. Remind yourself of your mortality. You are going to die one day. Do you really want to die as a pussy who was unable to do anything because he was so paralyzed by fear? Fear is meant to be overcome. So realize that, if you don't take the risk now, one day you may not get the chance.

  2. Counting to 3 then "going". This is so your rational brain doesn't have time to put the brakes on. Really "defaulting to action".

  3. Realizing that no one cares about you or what you do. Usually, no one really cares about you, they're just minding their own business. If they do care for a second, they'll forget it within the hour, day, or week. If they don't forget, maybe they've gotten over it. If they haven't, you can move somewhere where no one knows you. If everyone on the entire planet knows and won't ever forget your embarrassing risk, you'll be dead one day anyway.

  4. Reminding yourself, as Pook says, that life is to risk and that like the warrior in battle, it's the fight you put yourself in and how bravely you fought that makes you win, not whether things actually work out. So the courage to risk is what actually will give you a fulfilling life.

Second, you have to learn to calm your mind down. You have to rid yourself of all those negative emotions. This can be achieved through some of the previous methods, and you'll find that if you start taking risks you see that they aren't to be as feared as you once thought. Another useful method is meditation. Learn to quiet your mind and your thoughts so you are able to work the "mindfulness" or "in the moment" muscle that is able to relax you and bring you out of your head.

Learning to separate you from your thoughts is huge for an intellectual because there is such a deep connection for them to the 5 pound data processor that gives them their ego. It's necessary to see that you are not your thoughts. You experience your thoughts, but don't take too much ownership. You experience your intelligence, but not much more, so don't make it part of your identity.

Additionally, realize that any situational responses you have are magnified by your over active mind. The fact you are (probably) overly environmentally sensitive, neurotic, introspective, introverted, etc means that you can start to ignore some of the feedback signals your mind and body give you. These signals start to become noise and you can tease it out. When you separate these thoughts from your identity they don't carry as much weight, they're just things that go on.

Finally, and I always say this, figure out your health and your hormones. I don't know if the body and mind are the same, but if you are unhealthy there is a huge psychological influence. Dr. Jordan Peterson (feel about him how you will) figured out his depression (mostly) with dietary changes. Many people report this type of thing. Especially being low testosterone makes you prone to negative emotions, and for a lot of guys testosterone levels make the biggest difference in how they feel.

So, if everything is weird and strange anyway, be smart enough to know that sitting around pondering is dumb. Our time is limited. Our time to be human is now. Our time for reflection is later. Now is the time for action. Because I'm smart enough to know that I don't (and can't) know everything so I am going to follow my spirit.

Life is for the living. It is time to embrace the world and make your brain work for you.