Intelligence is commonly associated with intellect. With book smarts. With good grades. In fact, that’s almost the only definition of intelligence in mainstream society. But, is this an accurate measure of human intelligence? Are there other types of intelligence that are also critical to our wellbeing and success?
There are types of intelligence at work which we can consciously observe and affect, in order to improve our life. Below, I have grouped these into four categories. No category reigns above another, I suggest balance and integration of all four leads to overall health, wellness and fulfilment.
Four categories of human intelligence
1. Instinctive Intelligence
This is our innate drive to stay alive and reproduce. Our instincts protect us from pain and guide us towards pleasure. This is a very basic intelligence which we all have, but it’s not always balanced and healthy.
For example, some people live primarily for immediate pleasures even if they are harmful in the long run. This is evident in addictions to drugs, food, shopping or gambling.
Overactive protection instincts are caused by past trauma or by consuming fearful stories in the media. As a result, people are frequently triggered into stress and anxiety. They perceive danger and threat on a daily basis which not only affects their happiness but also their physical health.
Optimal functioning of our instinctive intelligence is critical.
2. Intellectual Intelligence
We’ve created wonderful things in this world with our intellect. Often, intellectual ability correlates to better paid jobs so that our basic needs and much more can be satisfied. Intellect can give us deep fulfilment, for example, I really love to learn and solve problems.
But, do we place too much importance on intellectual ability? Does having a smart, rational mind give you all the happiness you wish for, or is there more you need?
3. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is awareness of our own and other people’s emotions. Empathy is critical to our relationships and relationships are critical to our happiness, wellbeing and ultimately our survival.
Many people block their feelings because, society says that men shouldn’t cry or women shouldn’t get angry. Similarly, trauma results in blocking emotions. When someone is not emotionally attuned, how can they form relationships that are essential for our wellbeing?
Emotions also offer guidance as to what is going on inside us – for example, pain indicates healing is required. Avoiding emotional pain may be akin to ignoring a severed limb – is this an intelligent thing to do?
4. Intuitive Intelligence
Intuitive intelligence is our connection to our spirit, our soul, our authentic inner guidance. Tapping into this intelligence gives us a deep connection with all of life. Many people get their best creative ideas where they are inspired (in-spirit).
When life gets challenging, when our intellect cannot make sense of issues, our emotions are too overwhelming and our instincts have gone into overdrive, it is the intuitive, spiritual place where people often find strength, healing and meaning.
By its nature, I feel this level of intelligence is already balanced and full of health, but is perhaps not accessed and used to its full potential.
We cannot rely on only one or two types of intelligence to flourish in life
If a story on the news makes us fearful, we need our intellect to assess if there really is a threat in the immediate moment so that we don’t act irrationally.
Someone who is emotionally attached in an abusive relationship needs to engage their instinct and intellect in order to escape danger.
If you are in pain, you will not be consoled by a solely intellectual discussion about pain, you need empathic connection.
A highly intuitive person may have wonderful, creative ideas that serve humanity, but they need intellect to make these ideas a reality.
Balance + integration = true wellness and success
Individuals may be more intelligent in one category than another, but we can still strive for balance and integration of all four faculties. What if educational, societal and family systems used this holistic, system based view rather than just striving for intellectual intelligence? How might this impact our wellbeing as individuals and as a whole?
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, click here.