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Scientists Explain Why Smart People Prefer Fewer Friends

Scientists Explain Why Smart People Prefer Fewer Friends

Many of us have pondered at one time or another, what makes a life well lived. Is it being surrounded by family and a lot of friends? Could it be surrounded by a select handful of people in your life? Have you ever observed that really smart person in your life and the friends they surround themselves with? What about how many friends they choose to surround themselves with? It turns out that smarter people prefer fewer friends and here is why.

What Would Make Most People Happy

New research, published in the British Journal of Psychology, digs into the questions of what exactly defines a life well lived. Turns out, the hunter-gatherer lifestyles of our ancestors form the foundation of what makes us happy now. The research surveyed approximately 15,000 people between the ages of 18 to 28 years-old. Researchers found the people living in densely populated areas reported less satisfaction with the quality of their life. The next finding of the people polled suggests that the more frequent social interactions with close friends, a person has greatly improves self-reported happiness.

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Smart People Are An Exception

However, there is an exception. For those with higher intelligence quotients, these correlations drastically diminished. “The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals”. So, the more intelligent you are, the less satisfied you are with life if you socialize with friends more frequently. But why?

Smart People Are Focused on Long-Term Objectives

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Two friends riding in the backseat of convertible

    People with higher IQ’s and the capacity to use their intelligence are less likely to spend time socializing. Why? Intelligent people are focused on long-term objectives. They are compelled and maybe a bit more driven to use their intelligence to create something bigger than themselves.

    For example, think of someone you know who went to graduate school or started their own business. While pursuing their ambitions and goals, they had to minimize social interactions to stay on task to achieve their goal. An intelligent person, on the pursuit of achieving something bigger and better than themselves, may deem social interaction as a distraction that pulls them away from long-term objectives, which in turn, may affect their overall well-being.

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    When pursuing long-term objective, the smarter individual would rather stay home and work towards their dreams and ambitions rather than going out on a Saturday evening with a few friends. It’s not that they don’t value friendship; they do. But when they are on the prowl of achieving greatness, they may deem socialization as distractions.

    How Smart People Develops Differently During Evolution of the Human Brain

    The human brain evolved to meet the demands of our ancestral environment in the savanna. Population density was low and we subsisted by living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. During these times, having frequent contact with lifelong friends was necessary for our survival and for further reproduction of our species.

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    Propelling us to today, our life has changed drastically and so have our interactions with one another. Intelligent people may be better able to deal with the new challenges that modern day life throws us. Meaning, intelligent people have a better ability to solve evolutionary and new problems and have an easier time coping and dealing with new situations.

    When you’re smarter, you’re better able to adapt to things and have an easier time merging your ancestral predispositions with the modern world. Living in a high-population area may have a smaller effect on your well-being, but it may be due to being better able to jettison the hunter-gatherer need to socialize when you’re pursuing your dreams and ambitions.

    Smart People Value Relationships In A Different Way

    Intelligent people value friendships and relationships just like anyone else, but they tend to be more selective with how they spend their time. It isn’t that they don’t cherish friendships and frequent socialization occurrences, but they also cherish their personal pursuits.

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    Tara Massan

    Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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