Why smart people are better off with fewer friends
. . . I will let you figure that one out on your own.
The important stuff from this article: "Now, the broad contours of both findings are largely uncontroversial. A large body of previous research, for instance, has outlined what some have called an "urban-rural happiness gradient." Kanazawa and Li explain: 'Residents of rural areas and small towns are happier than those in suburbs, who in turn are happier than those in small central cities, who in turn are happier than those in large central cities.'"
I can't imagine why this is the least bit surprising, but it often seems to be. Who wouldn't feel more comfortable in a small community of people who you know intimately? The big city, on the other hand, who do you know? Who do you trust? Plus, the rural, and suburbs are full of green, with trees, and animals, and natural noises. The city is harsh, concrete, glass, asphalt, and sharp, harsh noise, a veritable din. But you can get an espresso, or hit a caviar bar! Oh, boy, I can hardly wait! Alright, I can wait, forever, if necessary.
"Kanazawa and Li's second finding is a little more interesting. It's no surprise that friend and family connections are generally seen as a foundational component of happiness and well-being. But why would this relationship get turned on its head for really smart people?
I posed this question to Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution researcher who studies the economics of happiness. "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," she said."
Maybe, or perhaps they are always analyzing things, thinking about things, not necessarily some long term project, just always distracted by what is happening inside their heads. You know, the only place where the extrovert is terrified, alone with his own thoughts.
And why all the inane focus on "happiness?" Happiness is simply what happens when we are distracted from the constant, grinding, vicissitudes of life. You go to the movies, action, romance, drama happens, and you forget the bills due, the work pile high on your desk, and the children's school problems. You are happy! But only for a few minutes, then like a soap bubble it pops, and once again you are living back in the real world.
"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."
Or me, me, me! I'm really smart! Heh! I amuse myself.
Might it be that most really smart people are introverts? You know people who are only fully formed when existing primarily in their heads, wrestling with conundrums, mysteries, questions, and problems? I am not putting down extraverts here, they have something else, and something very necessary. They have emotional quotient. The potential to be far more emotionally engaged. The intelligent commonly have less of this. One wrestles with the puzzle, the other with the personal.
"But Kanazawa and Li's savanna theory of happiness offers a different explanation. The idea 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.
Similarly with friendship: "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." We remain social creatures today, a reflection of that early reliance on tight-knit social groups.
The typical human life has changed rapidly since then -- back on the savanna we didn't have cars or iPhones or processed food or "Celebrity Apprentice" -- and it's quite possible that our biology hasn't been able to evolve fast enough to keep up. As such, there may be a "mismatch" between what our brains and bodies are designed for, and the world most of us live in now.
To sum it all up: You've heard of the paleo-diet. But are you ready for paleo-happiness?"
This also explains why we love Socialism. The first political system was not anarchy, it was socialism. The small familial hunter/gatherer group needed to cooperate completely, their lives depended upon it. There was no concept of private property. This concept worked great until these groups grew to something greater than 150 persons. Then one could not know or trust all of the others. Socialism requires complete and full trust, without that it cannot work. But nothing we do will rinse us of the desire for socialism, for living in small groups of 150 or less.
So, happiness is driven by living in small rural grouping of people whom we know intimately, and of living in a communal/socialist environment. The second is something humans can never return to, at least this side of paradise. The Burn has it wrong, socialism may appeal, but it cannot achieve our goals. We will forever now live in social grouping of more than 150 people.
But back to happiness, the wrong goal.
Why seek the temporal alleviation of the vicissitudes of life? I would postulate we should be seeking something more like joy, or contentment. Something which is not a temporal, but more permanent, more long term. But that is a book, or perhaps a long post, or essay for another day. I will only say, focus on the important aspects of life: family, friends, and work. Relish setting the goal, of working diligently towards the goal even more than the achievement of the goal. Once achieved, one must devine a new and valuable goal. Relish the time spent with family, and friends over everything else. Then relish work, anything productive which allows you to benefit society.
Maddogsdatir, and Maddogsdatir5.faux have just lobbied me for a trip up the Columbia River Gorge. Nothing like driving one of the most beautiful drives in the world to alleviate the vicissitudes of life! See you in a few hours! What was I saying about family? Oh, right!
photos of columbia river gorge - Google 搜尋
Come out and visit some time, weather is best May through middle October.