On Being Smart

There’s being smart, and there’s good at being smart. The crux of being good at being smart is to be dumb. Ask dumb questions. Check every basic assumption you have, and then recheck it. Qualify your own thinking. Are you 100% sure? 60% sure or not sure at all? What are the likely outcomes of your decisions? No idea? Good. That’s smart.

Then there’s the other side of that coin. Do you know? How do you know? There’s no rule that says you need to make a court case to be accurate. Sometimes you just know. On a gut level. That’s knowing and that’s smart too. In fact, if you went back and thought about every time you went against your gut level response and talked yourself out of it, you’d probably say you were wrong more often than not.

How do we know on that level? It’s been floating around for decades that our subconscious has many times the computing power of our conscious mind. Maybe so. Maybe it’s our soul talking. Maybe it’s God trying to save us from our own limitations. Maybe it’s the fact that our mind is so much larger than our brain that we can’t get the full report, or maybe there is simply something buried within our instincts that helps us along when our brains get carried away with our own thoughts.

In a thin-sliced world of ultra-parsed thoughts and words, maybe it’s worth pondering the simple knowing, of right and wrong, complex and simple, smart and foolish in some practical measure, or the simple distinction of comfort versus discomfort within our own minds.

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