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Is Cleverness Better Than Intelligence?

Everyone wants to be intelligent. But what about cleverness? Is cleverness better than intelligence? Let’s find out.

I remember this debate a long time ago when one of our teachers in high school was arguing about which quality is better in children. Now, I am sure you must be thinking, why would teachers fight over such insignificant issues?

Well, the truth is they were trying to prove which of the two works out in the long run. However, at that moment, one thing sparked in my mind about the usefulness of cleverness and intelligence.

That was the first time I had given deep thought to a subject. I was curious about which of the two I would need to be successful in life. Moreover, I wanted to the waters of the potential of the mind.

Today, after all these years, I realized that both are important on their own terms. However, there are some facts about cleverness that gives it an edge over intelligence.

We are so attracted to intelligence that we do not think about its long term perils. Likewise, we are so intimidated by cleverness that we do not think about its long term benefits.

If we say that intelligence is the answer to all problems, we might be both right and wrong. Right, because intelligence helps us to consider many things at a time. Wrong, because intelligence seems to ignore the simple aspect of a system.

Now, I am not talking about overthinking. But, it is also a subject of intelligence. Here, cleverness comes into the picture and solves the problem.

So, after giving a brief introduction to intelligence and cleverness, let us discuss whether cleverness is better than intelligence.


What do we mean by intelligence and cleverness?

In the previous section, we saw a glimpse of the abilities of intelligence and cleverness. Now, let’s find out what do we need to know about both of them.

So, let us find out about intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability to gain and deal with knowledge about a certain subject.

In other words, intelligence helps us deal with a subject or field where cleverness is mostly insignificant. Therefore, it is nothing but an ability to process acquired information, right.

Now, let us discuss cleverness.

Cleverness is the ability to understand, learn, and apply ideas or knowledge to a subject.

In other words, cleverness helps us understand and apply the knowledge to a subject. We can see the difference between them clearly. It is by no means ironic that they both are confused as one, both by western and eastern countries.

Now that we have discussed the difference between intelligence and cleverness, let’s find out what is the truth about them.


What is the truth about intelligence and cleverness?

For instance, let’s consider a situation where a person is trying to complete a task. He has to do a lot in a small period of time. However, the task seems to be too complicated to deal with.

Hence, he decides to use his intelligence (the powerhouse of knowledge) to find the solutions for the task. Now, he has managed to do it using his intellectual prowess without any external help. 

But soon he realizes that the task was a lot easier than he thought when he submitted it. All he needed to do was to use a quick-thinking to the task practically. 

Besides, it was not required of him to used his knowledge. Just a simple observation and application would have solved the problem.

Likewise, our intelligence is oriented towards knowledge and tries to find solutions in it. But, it does not know how to apply it with simple tactics. On the other hand, cleverness emphasizes dealing with the task by applying what it learned from knowledge into practical lives.

But, it doesn’t mean that intelligence is inferior to cleverness. Just that the intelligent solution is a long way to deal with it, and besides, it is beneficial in complicated situations that require deep thinking.

Likewise, a clever solution is a short-term or simple solution that aims at understanding how to solve it effectively and efficiently.

The intelligent person is more likely to meet certain criteria that are under the constraints of his knowledge. He seldom uses anything that exists beyond it.

But, this doesn’t show which is better for us, right. So, let us find whether cleverness is better than intelligence or not.


Is Cleverness Better Than Intelligence?

Cleverness has a very bad reputation for being too selfish and narcissistic due to the people using it. Sometimes, we view it as something deceptive and malignant.

However, cleverness is not the root of evil, but a brainy approach towards simply solving things.

In fact, cleverness is far misunderstood and neglected. I would even say that cleverness is much beneficial to us than intelligence. But, as always, we can’t believe anything without knowing the reasons behind it.

So, here are 7 reasons why cleverness is better than intelligence.


1. Cleverness doesn’t need deep thinking:

Now, it is fairly clear that intelligence places a lot of importance on analysis and deep thinking. We spend a lot of energy seeking ways to solve a problem.

But, cleverness, on the other hand, does not require such deep thinking and analytical skills. Besides, it is highly oriented towards solving the situation with common sense.

Intelligence disregards common sense for being too generic while cleverness utilizes it for its own benefit.


2. Intelligence stresses and wears out a person, cleverness does not:

When it comes to intelligence, it is a very tiring process. A lot of utilization in analysis results in lower mindfulness and increased stress levels. Moreover, it is wearing a person with too much focus on only dissecting pieces of information.

Cleverness, on the other hand, doesn’t focus much on analysis. It just applies its limited knowledge to understand and solve things in the novel and unique ways, which brings us to the next reason.


3. Cleverness is more creative and spontaneous than intelligence:

If you think that intelligence can be the only one to employ creativity, then you have misunderstood cleverness. In other words, creativity is one of the strongest traits of cleverness.

However, it manifests practically than imaginatively. It centers itself on influencing the external environment with new ways of simplifying things to understand and comprehend them.


4. Intelligence leads to depression and social anxiety:

It is hard to digest, but the world does not care about intelligence. Most highly intelligent people suffer from episodes of depression and sadness as people misunderstand them for being too much into their heads.

They ultimately realize that most people are not at par with them, which leads to social anxiety. They have problems fitting in with social conventions and often end up alone and dissatisfied.


5. Intelligence demands perfectionism, cleverness doesn’t:

Perfectionism is one of the most desired traits for people with high intelligence. No doubt, it affects intelligence to a great deal. Even psychologists believe perfectionism is a trait of intelligence.

However, perfectionism can turn dark when it is maladaptive. It is hard to believe, but the insatiable thirst for intelligence for attaining perfectionism leads to its darker and more obsessive version.

Cleverness routes for perfectionism but doesn’t obsess over it. In fact, due to its spontaneity, it never plans or expects anything, which ultimately disregards perfectionism and its structured traits.


6. Cleverness is more self-oriented than intelligence:

That’s right.

Cleverness is self-oriented, which is not hard to believe as we are aware of its applications. But it is by no means divisive as we can also use it for the good of others.

As a result, it is more self-oriented as it routes for self-conservation. However, intelligence is far more abstract and considers the bigger picture. Therefore, it concerns itself more with the environment than only thinking about self.

Any inconsistencies or change affects intelligence, but it doesn’t affect cleverness.


7. Lastly, cleverness is more practical than intelligence:

If you think intelligence is only practical, then you are terribly wrong. Intelligence manifests itself both practically and imaginatively. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence and Jung’s cognitive functions are some of the theories preaching the abstract nature of intelligence.

But, cleverness is only practical. To be honest, it is the greatest advantage it has over intelligence. It thinks practically, performs practically, and gets the results instantly. 

Also, some of the richest and well-known businessmen around the world are cleverer than the general population, which further proves the point.


Final Words:

To sum up, both cleverness and intelligence have their own perks. Both refine human thought processes and observation. Especially intelligence to a greater degree.

However, there are some ways where cleverness wins over intelligence and does a better job of performing a task efficiently.

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