not happy

Why Intelligent People Tend to Be Unhappy

My post from a couple weeks back on the beauty of sadness opened up a great discussion about the difference between sadness and depression and the merits of accepting sadness vs. treating it with prescription drugs.

On a very related note, I recently came across an interesting article on the tendancy of unhappiness in intelligence people. The author (a sociologist) claims that unhappiness develops in childhood, primarily because of Western cultures lack of esteem for intellectual values.

Children develop along four streams: intellectual, physical, emotional (psychological) and social. In classrooms, the smartest kids tend to be left out of more activities by other children than they are included in. They are “odd,” they are the geeks, they are social outsiders. In other words, they do not develop socially as well as they may develop intellectually or even physically where opportunities may exist for more progress.

Their emotional development, characterized by their ability to cope with risky or stressful situations, especially over long periods of time, also lags behind that of the average person.

Adults tend to believe that intelligent kids can deal with anything because they are intellectually superior. This inevitably includes situations where the intelligent kids have neither knowledge nor skills to support their experience. They go through the tough times alone. Adults don’t understand that they need help and other kids don’t want to associate with kids the social leaders say are outsiders.

Interesting stuff, although I’m not sure I completely agree. It’s nice to know that if you’re prone to the occasional bad mood, it’s only because you’re too smart to be happy. 🙂

Interview for The Happiness Project

Also, if you’re interested in checking out more of my thoughts on happiness, I recently did an interview with Alex Shalman for his series, The Happiness Project. If you have moment, leave a comment. The interviewee with the most comments wins $200 for charity.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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