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Science

Scientists Say Smart People Are Better Off With Fewer Friends 206

HughPickens.com writes: Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that a new study finds that when smart people spend more time with their friends, it makes them less happy. "The findings in here suggest (and it is no surprise) that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it ... are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective," says Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution researcher who studies the economics of happiness. According to Graham you should think of the really smart people you know. They may include a doctor trying to cure cancer or a writer working on the great American novel or a human rights lawyer working to protect the most vulnerable people in society. To the extent that frequent social interaction detracts from the pursuit of these goals, it may negatively affect their overall satisfaction with life. (More, below.)
Hugh Pickens continues: Kanazawa and Li's theory of happiness starts with the premise that the human brain evolved to meet the demands of our ancestral environment on the African savanna, where the population density was akin to what you'd find today in, say, rural Alaska (less than one person per square kilometer). Take a brain evolved for that environment, plop it into today's Manhattan (population density: 27,685 people per square kilometer), and you can see how you'd get some evolutionary friction. "Our ancestors lived as hunter–gatherers in small bands of about 150 individuals," Kanazawa and Li explain. "In such settings, having frequent contact with lifelong friends and allies was likely necessary for survival and reproduction for both sexes." If you're smarter and more able to adapt to things, you may have an easier time reconciling your evolutionary predispositions with the modern world. Accordingly smarter people may be better-equipped to jettison that whole hunter-gatherer social network — especially if they're pursuing some loftier ambition. "Whatever the explanation might prove to be, this obviously doesn't mean smart people don't like having friends," says Emma Cueto. "But it does probably mean that they don't enjoy having too many — after all, keeping track of lots of people does usually involve, you know, talking to them. So if you're naturally more of a loner, congratulations! It might be a sign of intelligence."
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Scientists Say Smart People Are Better Off With Fewer Friends

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  • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gma i l .com> on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:20PM (#51737673) Journal
    Better to have fewer friends, but spend more time with them, than more friends, and only shallow interactions ...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:31PM (#51737727)

      Yes, however, setting aside the number of friends, the more interesting matter of concern is how much time you spend with the friends you have.

      Some people get a significant chemical payoff when engaging in recreational activities with their friends. So, doing a lot of that maximizes their satisfaction with life. Other people get significant chemical payoff from cultivating their mental abilities (studying and/or applying those abilities towards a meaningful goal). Such people can enjoy (and need) some recreational time with their friends, but not nearly as much. Too much and they will start to feel like they are wasting time and falling behind schedule (even if there isn't a schedule). They maximize their happiness by spending less time with friends (and family).

      It is popular to portray such people as selfish, and usually miserable because of their selfishness. This meme is a cultural troll; it is nothing more than one group insisting that their tastes are superior to the tastes of another. It is also defensive, seeing as how people who spend more time focused on the acquisition and utilization of intellectual skills tend to accomplish more and make more money than people who just watch football all day. These attitudes should be seen as pedestrian, and flatly rejected.

      • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:56PM (#51737887)

        It seems to me (as a confessed introvert) that the dominant culture in the USA - and hence one of the most popular cultures in most of the developed world - is strongly extravert. To stereotype mercilessly, most Americans are seen as energetic, conscientious, achievement-oriented team workers. This is especially so in corporate and government environments, for fairly obvious reasons. Since all human strengths have (indeed, are) complementary weaknesses, this entails being somewhat superficial, outer-directed, over-sensitive to consensus, and averse to solitary thought or study. One consequence is that introverts often find themselves feeling excluded, undervalued, or even (in extreme cases) considered as suffering from mental illness.

        That's unfortunate, not only begans introverts have just as much right to live their own lives in the way they prefer as extraverts, but also because a lot of progress depends on introverts. Not to say that extraverts can't accomplish a huge amount too - but often the really big breakthroughs, which require focused attention for many months or years on end, have been made by introverts. It would be great if we could ever adjust our social perceptions to accept the whole spectrum of introversion/extraversion.

        For a good introduction, anyone unfamiliar with the topic should try http://www.ted.com/talks/susan... [ted.com]

        • the dominant culture in the USA - and hence one of the most popular cultures in most of the developed world - is strongly extravert.

          No, they're just more outgoing about it :-)

        • To stereotype mercilessly, most Americans are seen as energetic, conscientious, achievement-oriented team workers.

          And how are stereotypes formed?
          - Peoples' personal experiences with the subjects of the stereotype, followed by their communicating about it.
          - Media presentations.

          And what sort of sampling bias does this introduce?
          - Extroerts will be out interacting with others and going to other places while introverts are tooling away in private or small groups.
          - Media productio

      • They don't have to have an anxiety disorder as you describe (feeling like they're wasting time when they're not).

        They might still be happier when doing something intellectual than they are the second or third hour "hanging out," without any discontent in either situation.

      • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @04:43PM (#51738885) Journal

        Some people get a significant chemical payoff when engaging in recreational activities with their friends
        Come one, name it as it is: beer or wine! Sometimes even Whiskey ;D

    • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:50PM (#51737843)

      I hate to use the old phrase "quality time" but it comes to mind here. I have a handful of very good friends with whom I interact regularly but not constantly. I don't need or want more than that, and they don't either. So when we do get together, it's terrific. I think there would be rapidly diminishing returns if we got together more and more often.

      Email is fine to stay in touch day to day (which doesn't necessarily translate as 'daily' in all cases). We are all really busy, like-minded people, which is probably why we're friends.

      I don't understand the idea of calling and talking on the phone for hours daily, or the modern equivalent of texting every other minute. Now, many people do that. I'm not being critical. To each his or her own. Whatever makes you happy.

      Drinking beer and watching football at the bar with buddies doesn't do it for me. And, lest you accuse me of being judgmental (when I just said above that I'm not!) --- this puts me outside the mainstream, and many if not most of those football/bar people do judge me for not being "social" enough.

      It took me way too long to learn this: When you're outside the mainstream, don't expect acceptance and understanding to be reciprocal.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @02:49PM (#51738233)

        It took me way too long to learn this: When you're outside the mainstream, don't expect acceptance and understanding to be reciprocal.

        Don't worry, everyone posting here is outside the mainstream and coincidentally also proves that just because you're introverted doesn't mean you're smart.

      • by fightermagethief ( 3645291 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @06:10PM (#51739385)

        I hate to use the old phrase "quality time" but it comes to mind here. I have a handful of very good friends with whom I interact regularly but not constantly. I don't need or want more than that, and they don't either. So when we do get together, it's terrific. I think there would be rapidly diminishing returns if we got together more and more often.

        I notice this trend very much in more introverted people. I went from being introverted and weird up until about 11-12 years old (gifted program, academic bowl teams, few friends), to being close friends with many people in high school, back to being more introverted and weird after discovering the internet and self-education in my mid 20's. I feel I have a decent perspective on both viewpoints and the differences in the types of relationships are vast.
                With many extroverts, you do not have to worry about getting under someone's skin. The more time you spend with them, the better you both feel and the relationship just gets deeper unless you hit some kind of major philosophical impasse. Deeper emotional intelligence allows one to be in close proximity to another and easily shift gears from single-minded focus, to addressing someone else's need or expressing your need to be addressed. Emotional intelligence has to do with not being put on tilt when you have to acknowledge someone else within your controlled environment.
                Introversion seems to share similarities with autism spectrum (autism root meaning 'self-ism'). Note a recent article from slashdot pointing out a correlation between engineers and the tendency for authoritarian extremism/terrorism. Both of these concepts place importance on your own personal view being right. Hence, introverts seem less able to tolerate the differences in other people without seeing them as flaws, or just getting in the way of their own personal goals. Extroverts seem to place a higher importance on acceptance for diplomatic reasons, group dynamics over what one determines to be most important.
                Extroverts have the ability to see others as themselves and are not bothered by petty things that would upset the focus of an introvert. There is a huge difference in the types of relationships that this engenders. Introverts see many distinct units interfacing with each other for some purpose, while extroverts recognize the usefulness in letting go of some personal distinctions for the ability to operate as a team.
                Extroverted people that I have had deep relationships with tend to convey a feeling that you could not bother or agitate them unless you cross severe lines. While introverted people each have their own curated list of petty predilections and you can only interact with them under well-defined protocol. With extroverts, you can be more comfortable which allows for more collaborative thinking. An extrovert is usually about as bothered by you tracking mud in their house as if they had accidentally done it themselves. They see that petty squabbles just inhibit the group dynamic and use emotional intelligence to control their instinctive reactions, channeling them into positive interaction instead of two nerds fighting over the optimal time to get groceries. This is the essence of, in extrovert speak, being cool. The ability to be unperturbed and compromising in the face of competing agents/goals, genuinely not giving a shit because life will go on and you might as well be chill.
                If introversion is a strong indicator of being intelligent, then maybe our understanding of intelligence is very flawed and should be more inclusive. Maybe just say that introversion is a strong indicator of being able to focus on abstract problems where input from multiple sources at once is undesirable.

        • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @09:43PM (#51740447)

          Yours is an excellent post and contains much food for thought. I do however view things much differently, but I don't want to seem to "attack" what you've said, as it provides valuable insight.

          Perhaps I have a different idea of what it means to be an introvert or extrovert. In my case, introversion displays as difficulty in starting relationships. However, the ones that do "make" it (that sounds terrible, I know) become very deep and indeed extremely "fault tolerant." I accept and navigate friends' "flaws" because I realize that they are simply part of who they are. They extend the same tolerance to my flaws and faults. It's not at all a matter of limiting time together because of fault intolerance, so to speak.

          So I go back to the OP's idea that my group of introverts is simply very busy and wants to get lots of things done, and so we treasure our time together but none of us want it to be so extended that our goals are diverted. In that manner we're supportive of each other. (It might help to know that in my case, my friends are mostly other writers.)

          I want to go back, though, and briefly elaborate my unrelated side point: that the bar/football "mainstream" crowd is non-reciprocal. That is, while I can see that those folks enjoy the bar/football experience, and I'm not at all critical of their choice, they will not extend the same tolerance to me and my own choices and interests, which they criticize openly. Example: I once told one of the bar/football people I was going to compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He gave me a disdaining look and said, "Is there something wrong with you?"

          • Perhaps I have a different idea of what it means to be an introvert or extrovert. In my case, introversion displays as difficulty in starting relationships. However, the ones that do "make" it (that sounds terrible, I know) become very deep and indeed extremely "fault tolerant."

            I could see that. I think part of the problem is we all have our own definitions of what introvert and extrovert mean. And I don't think it is possible to provide a concrete definition since most of the human experience doesn't have an accurate scientific model to refer to. I might have stated what I said in an authoritative way instead of providing usual caveats like "in my opinion" or whatever, but we are all probably much more complex than a simple 2 category system. In the same vein, it is easy to t

          • Example: I once told one of the bar/football people I was going to compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. He gave me a disdaining look and said, "Is there something wrong with you?"

            That's what comes from starting conversations in the men's room with total strangers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Introverted doesn't mean anti-social. I know many social introverts, they just get exhausted from normal social interactions. In my limited person experience, not being able to be yourself is tiring. When many of us get together, we say what's on our minds without worry, we don't care if we offend, we act how we want to act, and we get along quite well. No issues. The problem is when you have to hang out with normal people who are easily offended and can't seem to carry on an intellectual conversation. I sw
        • I'm not convinced you've got a good grasp on introversion vs. extroversion, based partly on my observations and experience. While your behavior may have changed, I have doubts that you went from introvert to extrovert and back. Without actually knowing you, I'd suspect that you're somewhere in between.

          The introverts I tend to hang around with tend not to be easy to offend, and very accepting of differences between people. The extroverts I know tend to be somewhat less concerned with the differences of

          • Well what do you think is the true definition of extroversion versus introversion? This would be easy to turn into a no-true-scotsman from either side. My point is that these are pretty useless terms and people will use either to justify their own mode of existence. I am arguing towards what would probably be more beneficial to people that consider themselves nerds or introverts. I am sure you will put me in whatever category that is not yours, since you disagree with me. I have a good perspective on this b

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Different for everyone. I know people with tons of friends who think it odd I have few and even then don't really like hanging out. One friend has even gone so far as to say my way isn't healthy. Well I'm happy. I'm also happy when socializing with friends in the moment. But when I think about whether I'd like to hang out with friends or go to the forest, beach, trail, or do yard work by myself or with my significant other. I'd much rather be by myself or with my SO.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I'm not sure it's necessarily the quantity of friends but how you interact with them. As I've gotten older, I've been able to maintain high quality interactions with them without a lot of frequency, which enables a higher number of friends without sacrificing quality.

      Groups seem to take on their on dynamic. I've known people I liked individually but wouldn't have gotten much out of in a group. And groups (especially younger groups) often feel like they take on a competitiveness as their numbers go up. P

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I like and interact with lots of people. I do not really consider them friends - not necessarily. I'd call them friends because there's no better word for it. They're not mere acquaintances. A friend doesn't need to knock before coming in - but, due to my lifestyle, there's lots of people in that position.

      Ah - a friend comes upstairs and uses your bathroom off of your bedroom while you're still sleeping - and then jumps up and down on the bed until you get up and wrestle with them. A friend does that even i

      • Ah - a friend comes upstairs and uses your bathroom off of your bedroom while you're still sleeping - and then jumps up and down on the bed until you get up and wrestle with them. A friend does that even if your girlfriend is still in the bed with you.

        WARNING - They're not friends - they're KIDS. And they will come into the bedroom at the worst times possible. That's why you need vaseline - put some on the door knob and the kids will go "EWWWW" and leave you alone :-)

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Meh, I just walk around naked in my bedroom. Now that they've fled the nest, well... I'd walk around naked now but I have people here still - except now there's only three extras and the missus and I.

          So, there's a lock on the door. I use it. 'Cause I like being naked.

    • I agree, but it's because I'm introverted, and probably so are you. Our extroverted friends may strongly disagree, though.
  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:22PM (#51737689) Homepage Journal

    Scientists Say Smart People Are Better Off With Fewer Friends

    I'm doing very well.

    • Re:Dilbert (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:45PM (#51737793) Homepage Journal

      Also this cartoon [dilbert.com].

      I just this week found this one, cut it out and pasted it on the wall of my office.

      I've been telling people for months "I don't do drama" and it's not helping.

      • I've been telling people for months "I don't do drama" and it's not helping.

        You went off the rails at "telling people" in the first place. No, when they provide you with unwanted drama, you just need to stop telling them things, or listening to things they say. The only time you would tell them that you "don't do drama" would be after you've already stopped talking to them and they want to know why.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:35PM (#51737741)

    ... then wasting time socializing on bullshit topics likes (un)reality TV, soaps, social media, etc.

    That's not to say they don't check social media like /. or Reddit -- they do -- but they would rather be creating then socializing the majority of the time.

    /me Back to working on my OS ...

    --
    "Stop telling your big dreams to small minded people"

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:41PM (#51737773)

    It sounds like this article is mixing up “smart people” with “introverts.” What about the really smart extraverts? Richard Feynman was very extraverted, he had lots of friends, hung around with them a lot, and was very successful.

    • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @03:11PM (#51738363) Homepage

      Maybe they're not "mixing up" anything, maybe they found a correlation?

      I recommend actually reading all of Feynman's memoirs. He had great charisma and liked people, but he was also somewhat introverted. He doesn't talk about having a lot of friends, though he does talk about meeting people and having an interest in meeting different sorts of people from different walks of life.

      He actually describes spending most of his time alone, working on various math problems.

      Being a good public speaker and enjoying people-watching doesn't really make him an extrovert. If you understand the technical difference between introvert and extrovert it becomes obvious; he didn't care about the "social environment," he cared about his own thoughts and feelings. For example where he talks about uniforms, and social expectations to "look like a professor." Those really expose where he is on that spectrum.

      Introvert doesn't mean hermit; a charismatic introvert can be a great public speaker, and famous as a "people person." It doesn't keep them from spending the weekend working on a project, though. ;)

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        It's also possible to be an introvert and have loads of friends. You don't need to rely on others to have friends. You can be outgoing and bubbly and still be an introvert. Chances are, those people are a source of comfort and help for extroverts.

        I'm not sure why people think introverts are isolationists who do not associate with others. That's not what introvert means. It does, to some extent, help you identify those who are but it's certainly not exclusionary. I don't really need a lot from other people,

    • by NicknameUnavailable ( 4134147 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @05:51PM (#51739265)

      It sounds like this article is mixing up “smart people” with “introverts.” What about the really smart extraverts? Richard Feynman was very extraverted, he had lots of friends, hung around with them a lot, and was very successful.

      Introverts can act in a not-introverted manner. Feynman's bongo obsession should be enough to confirm him as an introverted autist that got placed in a lot of social situations. From the FBI files on Feynman:

      ...the appointee's wife was granted a divorce from him because of appointee's constantly working calculus problems in his head as soon as awake, while driving car, sitting in living room, and so forth, and that his one hobby was playing his African drums. His ex-wife reportedly testified that on several occasions when she unwittingly disturbed either his calculus or his drums he flew into a violent rage, during which time he attacked her, threw pieces of bric-a-brac about and smashed the furniture.

  • A minor correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:41PM (#51737779)

    There are a lot of things wrong with this article. The idea that doctors spend their time curing cancer - hmmm, maybe one in ten thousand. Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better). And I have yet to meet any lawyer IRL who was both intelligent AND spent all their time doing civil rights cases.

    I also don't buy the "evolutionary" or sociological explanation. The population density of our ancestors might have been tiny, when measured over a whole country. But because they stuck together, it was clearly much higher in the groups they lived in. Since it took much more effort to build a house, they tended to be small and close to each other (within the village walls).

    I would suggest that one reason that intelligent people would have fewer friends is the difficulty they would experience in finding like-minded individuals to be friends with. It wouldn't be very fulfilling for someone with a brain the size of a planet to spend all their time with people who only talked about soaps and sport.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better).

      Stephen King wrote several novels or so while working as a teacher during the school year and the laundromat during the summers. Most were rejected. His first published novel, "Carrie," earned him a $2,500 advance. The paperback rights got him $200,000. The rest was history.

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/53235/how-stephen-kings-wife-saved-carrie-and-launched-his-career [mentalfloss.com]

      It wouldn't be very fulfilling for someone with a brain the size of a planet to spend all their time with people who only talked about soaps and sport.

      I used to put people to sleep by discussing why Adolf Hitler attacking the Russians and opening a second front during World War II led to h

      • Stephen King wrote several novels or so while working as a teacher during the school year and the laundromat during the summers. Most were rejected. His first published novel, "Carrie," earned him a $2,500 advance. The paperback rights got him $200,000. The rest was history.

        What is the life story of one author (who has his fair share of detractors when it comes to his literary prowess) meant to indicate?

        • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @02:32PM (#51738117) Homepage

          What is the life story of one author (who has his fair share of detractors when it comes to his literary prowess) meant to indicate?

          Stephen King is a great writer who became wealthy through luck and circumstances. If his wife told him to put away his typewriter to get a Real Job to support his family, the literary world would be a sadder place.

          • Well, "great" is subjective, but regardless, I don't see what one particular author's route to fame and fortune has to do with the assertion that "Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better)."

    • "Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better)."

      Maybe they've realized that you can't take money with you when you check out, and they've decided to pursue a longer-term impact.

      • "Maybe they've realized that you can't take money with you when you check out, and they've decided to pursue a longer-term impact."

        Maybe but then... didn't they realize that you can't take long-term impact with you when you check out either?

        • The whole point is that it's something you give, not something you take.

        • Some people believe that you only truly die when your name is uttered for the last time.
          • "Some people believe that you only truly die when your name is uttered for the last time."

            Some people also believe an old white-bearded Man of Sky opened the Red Sea waters for another old white-bearded man to pass through, so go figure!

    • by DrJimbo ( 594231 )

      Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better).

      What you say may sound reasonable and obvious but it is based on the assumption that money is a good motivator for creative behavior which has been scientifically proven to be factually incorrect. Take a look at this TED Talk by Dan Pink for an easily digested explanation: On Motivation [ted.com].

      In a more global context, the fact that monetary rewards stifle creativity could explain many deep, systematic problems in our society. Perhaps it is unwise for us to put people who are strongly motivated by monetary r

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better).

      Pay doesn't determine intelligence. If you are intelligent and use that for money, then you will certainly earn a lot.
      But there is more to life than money, it is well known that passed a certain point, more money doesn't make you much happier. And a trait of intelligent people is that they can do what they like the way they like and still manage to make a living, even if it isn't millions.

    • Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better)

      Money isn't everything.

      Case in point, the novelists, essayists, philosophers, poets and journalists, among others, whose work has been chosen for preservation by the Library of America. [loa.org]

    • Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better).

      People that worry about how much a job pays don't tend to be very intelligent. I guess this works for whatever vague, unscientific definition you have for the word 'intelligent'. If you bothered to actually pay close attention to the words you are using, you would realize that there are types of intelligence (however vague and unscientific) including linguistic, musical, and body-kinesthetic.

    • I would suggest that one reason that intelligent people would have fewer friends is the difficulty they would experience in finding like-minded individuals to be friends with. It wouldn't be very fulfilling for someone with a brain the size of a planet to spend all their time with people who only talked about soaps and sport.

      True. What happens is that a person has a particular interest or passion or finds others who share that same interest or passion and then proceed to interact on that basis.

      I have zero friends who are fully capable of understanding all of me or even dealing/accepting all of me. I have a few friends that I share interests with and can discuss various topics with. Honestly, I suspect that is all many of us can hope for. We are all so radically different that fully understanding someone else, even a dullard, ma

    • I can't speak for writers but I am a fan of classical music, and the majority of the great composers died completely broke. Most of them had IQ estimated in the 160 range- surely there is more to life than profit motive.
  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@NOSPAm.poetic.com> on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:50PM (#51737837)

    Much of the summary assumes that happiness is important. And that it's important to smart people.

    I propose that the desire for happiness is inversely proportional to intelligence. I have no statistical proof, only personal and historical experience. As one learns about the discerning and creative people around them and the ones that they read about in biographies and historical documents, one must consider how often did these people sit around to chat with neighbors and chums. If they interacted with other people, it was probably in pursuit of some greater purpose.

    On the other hand, I will be meeting with 5 'developmentally disabled' people this morning who are very happy and who value that state of being very much. What's your experience in this regard?

    • One thing I'd say is that I'm constantly surprised by the truly immense amount of written correspondence that the great thinkers carried out with other people throughout their years.

    • by Hartree ( 191324 )

      Happiness is a very misunderstood concept, I think. We confuse it with the feeling we have during a peak moment. In truth, most of the time we don't feel that way. And it's through no fault of our own, or anyone else. Moods come and go for reasons we often don't really understand.

      If I'm "happy", great. If not, I keep on living regardless.

      I aspire more to "satisfaction" than "happiness". Though it may be just a matter of different terms, I really don't know how to make myself happy (Though a direct increase

      • Yeah, I see happiness as a scattershot phenomenon and not so much a spectrum thing.

        There are hundreds of tiny things that make me happy every day (your socks comment is a perfect example of one). There at least as many things that make me unhappy every day.

        There will never be a time when there are 0 points on either side. The trick is to get all of the happy points concentrated together and the unhappy points scattered and alone.

        I would never describe myself as a happy person. But I am not an exclusively un

    • by swell ( 195815 )

      Happiness is a recent concept.

      In the middle ages people faced either survival or death. Survival was generally preferred and so people worked hard and suffered difficulties in an effort to stave off death. There was no such luxury as TV, books or even a day off. No time to contemplate the infinite universe (but for a few monks, nobles, etc). And no glimmer of what happiness might consist of.

      Even before the Middle Ages, the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and Mesopotamian people may not have understood or valued

      • Your historical analysis is way off. Here, for instance, is what one writer says about Medieval Europe:

        Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the [medieval] peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.

        • Your historical analysis is way off. Here, for instance, is what one writer says about Medieval Europe:

          Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the [medieval] peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.

          Interesting - but a Reuters news story does not a meaningful historical analysis make. Here is a good counterpoint to this (very misleading) thesis [adamsmith.org].

          OTOH, it is well established that (from actual observation) surviving hunter-gatherer societies have more leisure time. This is partly due to the lack of a compulsion to "make stuff" (maintain a more complex dwelling, clothing, tool requirements, etc.).

    • It also assumes a person is either introverted or extroverted when in reality most people adapt their behaviour to deal with whatever social context they find themselves in.
      • Extroversion is a fairly stable personality trait. It has nothing to do with adapting behavior to circumstances, which everyone does.

    • I really doubt that the desire for happiness is less in intelligent people. They often derive happiness from different things. If I had to sit around and chat with neighbors and chums all day, I assure you I wouldn't be happy. If some other people had to sit around and work on intellectually challenging problems all day, they wouldn't be happy.

  • by chispito ( 1870390 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:51PM (#51737851)
    Lots of posts saying "Yeah, smart people understand me, but people I don't understand are dumb."
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @01:52PM (#51737857) Homepage Journal

    I wouldn't be talking about a level of intelligence specifically but I want to point out that anybody who is focused on a goal will feel irritated when detracted from the task in front of them that works towards that goal and having friends invite you to various social interactions is taking time away from those tasks. I know it first hand, I had to decline quite a number of invitations over the years because I do not have time for this, I am busy and what I am busy with is part of my overall goal.

  • But everyone *knows* that if you want to do something alone it means you have a mental disorder! I went on a trip to the Caribbean once (there were several couples and we all went together). First day we were headed down to the beach, I brought a book plopped down in a chair and started reading while everyone else went in the water. At least two others came by and asked me if I was OK, and if I was feeling well. I'm like, "yeah, this is awesome!" The silly thing is they were mostly psychologists, but t

  • Misleading Headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @03:10PM (#51738355)
    Study is 18-28 year olds with self reported levels of happiness.
  • I find I have three circles of friends. inner is people I can talk about anything with, middle I can stay smart around, outer, I just nod and smile when they say stupid shit. Just let them be wrong and smile, it's not worth correcting them. Just hand them another budwiser while they make fun of your fancy pants dark beer.

    • Just hand them another budwiser while they make fun of your fancy pants dark beer.

      Obviously a sign of a highly cultured individual. I just smile and nod while someone willingly ingests poison, much less poison that they feel superior to another man's poison. Actually I don't smile and nod or feel the need to tell other 'cultured people' I smile and nod since I am not a passive-aggressive coward with low self-esteem.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @05:15PM (#51739065)
    It is quite easy to start seeing lesser folk as idiotic, or even a roadblock to a better world. You may also not understand at all why they enjoy many things making you sort of a wet blanket in their eyes.

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts to each other without consideration of their relation to experience. -- Albert Einstein

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