Why Smart People Make Stupid Decisions
“Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity.
Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another.”
How many times have you said or heard said, “you’re a smart guy, why did you do that?” Or some variation of that phrase. Why do people, who are considered smart, do things and make decisions that seem so stupid sometimes? It seems that the paragon of all endowments is intelligence. All parents want, and believe, that their children are smarter than most. We want the smartest person to make or help us make vital decisions in all facets of our lives. The thing is being smart, although it can be advantageous, doesn’t mean one is wise or possess true knowledge! We are human but we are also animals biologically. While we think we make our most important decisions based on sound, reasonable or smart thinking, the reality is most of our decisions are based on emotions or made unconsciously for us by our fears or the beliefs that we unconsciously accept as gospel.
Our brains are wired to make emotionally based decisions. Our limbic system, sometimes referred as our reptilian brain, receives our perceptions before our neocortex has an opportunity to assess and make sense of the information. The limbic system is where our emotions come from. We are designed this way for survival. When a Saber Tooth Tiger is chasing you it matters little how smart or logical we are, we need to get the Fuck out of there! The thing is though, we humans are gifted with the opportunity of choice and self reflection. We can observe our observations. This is an enormous blessing but too few of us have taken the time to develop this ability. Just like an infant, that prefers to crap in its own pants, until taught not to, as adults we prefer to do what we feel like whenever we want to until we learn how to make the right choices for ourselves. This can only be accomplished by taking the time, and having the courage, to become self-aware. We must go inside and get to know ourselves, what we fear, what we are good at, what we are not, what we believe, what fuels our passions, what we truly need, etc. With deliberate and honest introspection, we eventually become more and more self-aware. We begin to know ourselves, to accept ourselves, to love ourselves and self-confidence and self-mastery can ultimately be attained. Then we can all make good decisions regardless of our intellectual prowess or god given processor speed.
In our current mindset, we as a culture are much more externally focused. We focus on results, competition and teaching our children what we think they need to survive and thrive in the world. We teach them the skills that allow them to make money and have things. We are more impressed by our neighbors retirement savings, or square footage of their house, than how developed or truly happy they are! We pay relatively little attention to the most important skills and achievements like self-awareness, critical thinking, and existential things like the meaning of life and so forth. It shouldn’t be a big mystery then why we are over medicated, depressed, anxious and stressed out of our gourds as a species! We are doing things because we were told to, because that is the way to do them, because it’s the path to success and happiness. We’re not really sure “why” because we don’t know ourselves! We are therefore, Ill prepared at handling challenges, fostering healthy relationships and achieving true happiness.
So, smart people make stupid decisions because they are on autopilot! They might be able to split a fucking atom with a spoon and duct tape but they can’t make good self-aware life decisions, have terrible relationships, need antidepressants to function and can barely make it through a work week! Divorce is the norm, we are generally unhappy, we daydream about moving to a tropical island, the key to it all is always lies somewhere out there. Once I have enough money then I’ll be happy, once I get that promotion, if I only had a more loving husband, the list goes on and on. If we would spend a fraction of the time we do on learning the skills that we think we need to survive and thrive in this cruel world, we’d already have all that we ever need! The internal victory of ones self and the development of our unique human brains is the key to wisdom, smart choices and happiness. We’ve spent so little time and effort on developing our god given human abilities because that just isn’t important, making money and keeping up with the Joneses is!