If You Crave Time Alone, You’re Probably Much Smarter Than You Think
This amazing guest post was written by Jeriann Watkins Ireland, a writer and wellness enthusiast. We encourage you to check out more from Jeriann at her website.
Our social habits have a strong impact on our mental and physical health. Most discussion of social habits revolve around introversion and extroversion — whether being around people drains you or energizes you. Introversion and extroversion aren’t directly related to being anti-social or social, but most people read the terms that way since introverts often need to set aside time to spend alone to avoid becoming emotionally overwhelmed.
A recent study explored some connections between friendship and intelligence. Scientists have found that though close friendships improve life satisfaction and quality of life for people of all intelligence levels, the increase in satisfaction is less among more intelligent people. The researchers who performed the study wanted to see if the savannah theory of happiness could explain this.
The savannah theory is that the human brain not only considers consequences of actions in their present context, but their ancestral context. This basically means that if something was a factor for survival in ancestral times, people’s instincts could still default to abiding by that. When it comes to friendship, forming close connections is not nearly as necessary for survival and reproduction as it once was. When people lived in close knit villages, they relied on their connections with others to assure they had sufficient food and shelter and introduce them to potential mates. Today, you can get all your physical needs met online, and you can even reproduce without having intercourse with another person!
What does all this have to do with intelligence? Well, studies show that people with higher intelligence are less prone to evolutionary instincts. They are more capable of judging situations based on the current context, rather than the ancestral context. So whereas someone motivated by evolutionary instincts will find great joy and comfort in having a large social network, someone analyzing by current context will measure the direct benefits of each social interaction.
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Of course, this doesn’t mean that social people are dumb and hermits are smart. As mentioned above, science has shown that close social connections do have benefits for people across the intelligence spectrum. In addition, intelligence does not result in complete adherence to logic. There are plenty of extroverted geniuses who accept that though there may be no direct physical benefits to a situation, if being social gives them energy and purpose, they should be happy in the way that’s natural for them.
However, this interesting study does bring up the opportunity to analyze your social habits.
If you’re somewhat of a hermit, you might question whether your social habits (or lack thereof) is bringing you happiness. Are you overly analytical when interacting with people? Do you question their motives when you could look at situations at face value? Would increased interaction with people bring new sources of joy into your life?
If you’re a social butterfly who finds happiness in every social interaction, you might think about whether being in a constant state of satisfaction is keeping you complacent. Is over-socialization keeping you from meeting your goals? Do you spend time with some people out of habit, rather than genuine desire?
There’s no question that having close personal connections improves life satisfaction and mental wellness. Even in today’s automated world, having friends can bring practical benefits to your life, allowing you to share your stress and get help when you need it. For seniors especially, there are concrete benefits to companion living.
Analyzing your social habits can result in a more nuanced look at what you want out of life. Once you know why you default the way you do, introverted or extroverted, you can analyze whether your default social habits contribute positively to your life goals. Would more alone time result in better focus on your goals? Would more socialization lead you to a happier outlook?
Have you heard of the savannah theory of happiness before? What are your thoughts on the links between social habits and intelligence?
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