The following is a real conversation I recently had while my wife had a cold:
- (Wife coughing)
- Me: Why don’t you cover your mouth when you cough?
- Wife: I’m coughing so much there’s no point.
- Me: I’m not sure of the logic in that.
My wife is a very smart woman, but sometimes her logic… not the best. If her logic isn’t the best, does that mean she’s not actually smart? I’ve recently been faced with the question of what it means to be smart because I had a dumb moment and offended my mom, the most angelic woman I’ve ever met, which may make me the most horrible person anyone can meet. In a conversation where I was trying to tease my wife I said: “I heard kids get their intelligence from the mom, so I was like oh no.” I said this not thinking that my mom, who is a mom, could be offended… and she was. Fortunately, after a disastrous attempt to fix the situation (I accidentally dug a hole and, like most people in a hole, I started digging ferociously, which made it worse) the following day, I thought to call and apologize again. I’ve never thought of my mom as anything but perfect, but since she’s normal that’s not how she sees herself; you know, because she’s human and not actually an angel. I’ve never really thought about what it means to be smart until this moment. When I was studying for my Masters of Education I was told there are different intelligences and teachers need to connect to all the different types. Meanwhile most people focus on IQ and EQ. The TV show Scorpion (a great show) is based on a real person with a ridiculously high IQ. On the show he has a team of 3 others who also have ridiculously high IQs, but as incredible as they are at understanding technical things, socially and life functioning wise they’re limited (aka they suck). That, to me, doesn’t sound very smart. They’re intelligent in some ways, but super dumb in others, so to me they’re not “smart”. For me, being smart is more than being good at one thing or one area. I heard of a guy with a 195 IQ who lives in his mom’s basement doing pretty much nothing. That’s not smart; that’s a waste of potential. There are many ways we try to measure intelligence, but to me, a truly smart person is one thing: happy. Thus, being smart means you make good life choices, which makes it easier to be happy. Years ago on a mission trip I met a homeless person who couldn’t be happier as he lived in a good community sharing his faith with everyone he met. That’s being smart because he made choices that helped him be happy. Recently someone told me about the ‘imposter syndrome’, which is how we often feel like an imposter when we’re part of a specialized group. For instance, being in a comedy program I had to audition and prove I was good enough to be in, I spent most of the year secretly afraid people would find out I was an imposter who wasn’t funny. This is apparently a common problem for all types of students even in the most impressive programs and professionals in the most impressive career positions. I know as someone with 3 Masters Degrees I quickly learned not to think someone is smart just because they have an education. My wife has a dental hygiene diploma, and I would say she’s just as smart as I am if not more… minus a few questionably non logical moments.
As part of my apology to my mom I ended up writing a list of ten reasons she is smart, which is adapted and included below. All of the points are connected to her making good choices and finding happiness. She may not be a genius intellectual wise like the guy from Scorpion, but she’s a genius smart wise. Looking at this list you may realize you’re smarter than you thought and/or you might find a ways to help grow your smartness, which is more about having a good life than a good IQ.
- She surrounds herself with good people.
- She finds things she enjoys doing and does them.
- She makes time to help those in need and is very generous with money, time, and her talents like baking and listening.
- She’s incredible at budgeting, which allows her to be generous in a responsible way. She knows money is a tool and not a god.
- She had an incredibly strong and intimate marriage for 36 years, and after my dad passed away, she was able to rebuild her life and found a way to be happy again on her own.
- She knows the value of work and has passed this on to all three of her kids
- She has created the warmest and most welcoming home possible where all three kids and both daughters-in-law regularly visit 1-3 times a week. It was also a place youth groups enjoyed visiting over a twenty year span, which is also a demonstration of her generosity.
- She knew how to discipline her kids and when to say no to us like when I begged to have an allowance, but she knew it was better for me not to have one.
- She raised three kids who all got straight A’s despite certain mental setbacks, have found respectable careers, and get along as best friends.
- All three kids respect her beliefs and we were inspired to develop our own similar faiths as we are all firm believers and regularly read our Bibles and pray.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of what it takes to be smart. It involves self discipline and a whole lot of love. May you experience more smartness in your own life.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people