20 Signs You’re More Intelligent Than You Think

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Forget grades, forget certificates, forget having letters after your name—these things prove that you are an intelligent person, without question.

1. You are enthusiastically curious.

You simply must know how something works, why some things are the way they are, and what happens when you do X or Y. You can’t control this thirst for knowledge, experience, and wisdom—it’s your status quo.

2. You’re not a sheep.

You don’t follow the crowd simply because it is the crowd. You beat your own drum and think for yourself. Sometimes this means standing out and being a bit different or quirky in other people’s eyes.

3. You trust but verify.

You aren’t mistrustful as such, but you do like to verify that what a person has said is accurate. You don’t take information at face value because you know that it is in some people’s best interests to misguide others, while others repeat misinformation believing it to be true.

4. You hold a lot of random facts in your head.

You tend to be good at quiz shows or games like Trivial Pursuit because you can recall seemingly endless random facts from somewhere deep inside your mind. You don’t always know where those facts came from, but you feel like you read it in a book or heard it on a podcast at some point.

5. You have a good crap detector.

You tend to know when something someone has said is wrong or not the whole story. You can tell from the information provided but also the way it was given and the context in which it was given. You sniff out nonsense like some sort of fluff-detecting bloodhound.

6. You ask a lot of insightful questions.

If something isn’t entirely clear to you, or if you are just curious to know more, you have a knack for asking the right questions. And you’re not afraid to ask the seemingly stupid or obvious questions either, because sometimes they are the most important ones to ask.

7. You think outside the box.

You have a very creative way of approaching problems and often pull solutions that no one else would dream of seemingly out of nowhere. You just see things differently and can apply knowledge from one area to help in another that is largely unrelated.

8. You can join the dots.

You have an eye for cause and effect, for input and output, for how things are interdependent and linked in untold ways. This helps you to understand complex or wide-ranging topics or issues that others struggle to grasp fully.

9. You enjoy deep conversations.

You may or may not be adept at small talk, but either way, you don’t enjoy it. You’d much rather tackle the bigger topics of conversation with like-minded folk where you can let your mind take you however far it wants into the far reaches of knowledge and to the edge of reason.

10. You can explain complex things in simple terms.

No matter how complicated something might be, you seem to be able to break it down and explain it to someone who has little to no knowledge of what you’re talking about. You often use analogies or even stories to help the other person grasp the key point you are trying to communicate.

11. You tend to be very observant.

You notice details, you watch how things work, you examine the interactions of things and of people to gain a better, more complete understanding of what is happening, why it is happening, and what, if anything, you need to do in any given circumstance.

12. You don’t jump to conclusions.

Although your initial thoughts on something often tend to be good ones, you do not base your decision on them or act on them without giving further consideration to the facts of the matter. You are patient and wait until things become clear before you crystallize your opinion or choice.

13. You plan three moves ahead.

You see the never-ending chessboard of life and instinctively plan how you are going to move from the square you’re on now to the one you want to reach. You also engage in contingency planning in case things don’t go entirely as you expect them to.

14. You engage in self-reflection.

You not only seek to understand the world around you, but you are also inquisitive about your internal world. You enjoy introspection and spend more time than most considering yourself, your thoughts, your motives, your actions, your morals, and your dreams.

15. You pick things up quickly.

Whether it’s a skill you want to learn, a game you’ve never played before, or a conversation you join midway through, you have a talent for getting up to speed with things quickly and almost effortlessly. People comment how things seem to come naturally to you.

16. You know when to be quiet and listen.

An important skill in life, you are not averse to letting another person speak, especially if they have a piece of knowledge, wisdom, or simply a different perspective they would like to share. You might interject at times, but only to gain clarification or to keep the conversation going in a natural way.

17. You can agree to disagree amicably.

You’re rarely so stubborn that you get sucked into heated arguments over differences of opinion. You sense where the conversation is going and find a way to end it on good terms by agreeing to disagree. You don’t seek to have the last word or appear the bigger person—you want all parties to feel validated.

18. You worry about the state of the world.

While intelligence by itself does not make a person anxious, the ability to join the dots and see where society seems to be headed often causes a heightened level of concern in intelligent individuals.

19. You think critically.

Many of the previous points fall under the umbrella of critical thinking. You are able to evaluate something objectively; to absorb and analyze information to form a judgment that is reasonably sound most of the time. Those judgments are often free from bias and consistent with the facts.

20. You downplay your intelligence.

People often comment on your quick thinking or insightful opinions, but you aren’t aware of just how clever you are. You are humble to a fault in the sense that you sometimes underestimate your abilities.

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.