Scientists have a pretty good idea about what makes people happy. Exercise is known to reduce anxiety and help you relax. Reducing social media use will improve your emotional wellbeing. Being in nature brings us joy.
And, for most people, being around friends makes us feel content. Friends will make you happier — unless you’re highly intelligent. Highly intelligent people were actually found to have the opposite correlation. As in, they experience more happiness with fewer social interactions.
A survey conducted by Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa measures a person’s life satisfaction, intelligence, and health. They analyzed 15,000 people and the result led them to come up with the “savanna theory of happiness,” which is based on the idea that people’s life satisfaction not only depends on what’s happening in the present but also by how our ancestors may have reacted in the present.
The study was based on two factors: population density and frequency of communication with friends. The research found that people in more secluded areas (rural areas and small towns) were happier with their lives than those who lived in denser populations.
“In general, urbanites have higher average intelligence than ruralites do, possibly because more intelligent individuals are better able to live in ‘unnatural’ settings with a high population density.”
For our ancestors, frequent contact with friends was a necessity that helped them to ensure survival. Now, being highly intelligent individuals can solve challenges without needing the help of someone else. This diminished the importance of friendships to them.
Therefore, a sign of someone being highly intelligent is uniquely being able to solve challenges without the help of the group.
Of course, this is just one study. It may be only directionally accurate. Also, the study certainly doesn’t mean that if you enjoy being around your friends that you’re unintelligent. But it does mean that the really smart person you know who spends much of their time alone isn’t a sad loner — they probably just like it that way.
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