Are the intellectual elite more afflicted because they understand life’s complexities? I argue that intelligent people may be successful professionally but are profoundly despondent. It is a long-held belief that average minds are comparably content.
Raj Raghunathan, author of “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?”, elucidates that intelligent people make themselves dejected as they evaluate themselves against benchmark often arduous to achieve. He explains, for instance, if you get an upraise you may be temporarily content but you’ll keep needing the raise to sustain your happiness level. Most times for people it is not a lasting source of happiness. Thus, there is little or no correlation between intelligence and happiness.
Intelligent people tend to be more goal-oriented. They associate their happiness in winning every situation. This makes them peculiarly vulnerable to depression when encountering impromptu events or losses. Hence, they experience loss aversion bias and react more strongly to negative changes in their status quo. Thus, making them more prone to melancholy.
Smart people often work relentlessly towards their goals and purpose but fail to take pleasure in the process. A simple tactic for all the intelligent folks out there: move your focus to the net impact rather than focusing on success or failure of each project. It is important to free one’s mind and lessen attachment to external goals. It’s okay to take a step back to attain internal happiness and harmony.
Yes, I just addressed the elephant in the room. You will fail and it’s ok to do so. And you can find a hell lot of articles on the medium that can tell you the benefits of failing, but I am here to make you absorb that feeling of pain and anger and disgust that you will feel when you fail.
The more you struggle, the more likely it is that you fail and it is necessary for a sense that it’s like breath for living.
But if it’s so noble and praiseworthy to fail why it is so that you are never rewarded for failure?
It is because the prize you get for failure is confined to your self, a thing that resides in your heart and nowhere else.
In this world where everyone seems to be living the perfect life, where everyone is a star on Instagram and Facebook, why anyone would boast their failure like medals?
It’s because you want to escape the inevitable truth. Just like death. Even when you know you cannot escape it still we live like there’s no way we are going to die, but it’s the only truth of life.
No matter if you are Bill Gates or a beggar you will die one day. And it’s the same with failure.
In the Mahabharata when Arjun was hesitant to kill his family members to restore justice and balance in the society, Lord Krishna asked him…
“Do you believe that you have the power of creation and destruction in your hand? You are just a mere human that has been used as an instrument by me to teach the world a lesson. Don’t blame yourself for the things you cannot control. Pick up your bow and fight Arjun”.
You have to let go of the illusion of control and thinking that you are the one responsible for all the things. Rather you must believe in yourself and do what is necessary.
Do your jobs will full believe and compassion and let the fear of failure rest because you cannot do anything about it.
Fail gallantly and terribly. Fail so hard that it’s impossible to live. And in that very moment, you will meet your true self, clear and pure. Then you must look into the mirror and tell yourself that you’ll rise like a phoenix.
YOU WILL FAIL!! was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
For as long as I can remember, tests and assessments have been very important to me. When I was younger, I loved the feeling of satisfaction and pride of a good piece of work, but now at 16, it’s become a lot more than that. Grades have become a necessity to go to a prestigious college or university, places a 10-year-old me always dreamed about going to. My long-term goal of studying law at the best possible university has been my driving force to do well in school and try my best in every test. In fact, I’ve only ever gotten a B twice in my life! They made me very upset, but nevertheless I’ve taken away some important messages and here are the reasons why I will go as far as to say that failing a test, losing an important match or getting rejected from a job is vital to human development.
#1 It reminds you that there are more important things in life This is one of the most personal effects for me. I’m really embarrassed about sharing this experience and how I reacted, which seems so childish, but oh well. I’d just got back all my mock exam results and I’d got A*s for 9 subjects and an A in my last subject. I was so, so crushed and I felt defeated and worried that I wouldn’t get the scholarship I had applied for at a really good school that was also really expensive, because I hadn’t been the best in every subject. Writing this makes me feel quite sad, actually, that I was so distraught over an A which other people would have been thrilled about! I got a lot from this experience by considering what was the worst that would happen if I didn’t get the scholarship- well then I’d just go to a different school. A place does not define your success, after all, and college-dropouts like Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates are living proof of that. It’s so important to fail or be disappointed once in a while to have a wider view of life and understand that this small thing or experience really doesn’t matter in the long run. It’s hard to accept, especially at first, but it really has become a lot easier for me to accept a disappointing result with the mindset of thinking about the very worst thing that could happen and if that thing would really impact my life later on.
#2 It humbles you
Failing or not doing as well as you hoped on something really brings down your ego. The only subjects I’ve ever gotten a B in were in History and Literature- my two best and favourite lessons! It was definitely a humbling experience because although I am not a person to brag or speak of my accomplishments out loud, at the time I felt internally like I was one of the best in those areas. It’s very important to have self-confidence and a strong belief in yourself, but at the same time always bring yourself back to the ground. I find that not getting the result I want reminds me that I’m not the best at that particular thing, and it really drives me to strive harder so that someday I will be the best. Lowering your view of yourself and your abilities allows you to identify and make room for improvement so that you can get even better at that skill next time round. However, it is, of course, essential to not feel demotivated and useless when you inevitably fail at something. A loser’s mindset leads to disappointment, but a person who works towards improvement continuously will surely reach success one day. So to summarise this all in one line: failing humbles you and helps you learn from your mistakes so that you can keep growing.
#3 It makes you mentally stronger
Not being the best at something certainly gives you a taste of reality. I don’t know anyone who has never failed at something, and I don’t think most people do. Many years ago, my mum sent me J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech, and to this day I often think about one of her quotes from it.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something… unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case you fail by default.”- J.K. Rowling
Here is a link to the YouTube video of her speech if you would like to give it a listen. I know there’s lots of talk going around this author right now, but it really is a very impactful speech!
Anyway, back to it. Getting a bad test grade prepares you for that inevitable disappointment that is a crucial part of reality. I think that I have become a mentally stronger person who is not as affected anymore by trivial details like a low mark or getting rejected from something. Lots of people are physically strong, but few have the power of a strong mind which is essential in the recipe for success. Having mind strength is not something you’re born with; it’s something that you cultivate as you go through different situations and develop as a person. Failing a test sucks, but look at the long-term effects like being mentally stronger to deal with more difficult situations later on, and it doesn’t seem so bad after all!
I hope that the next time you encounter a disappointment you will able to see past your initial sadness, regret, or fury to think about the benefits of failure and accept that rejection and failure are integral parts of life. I’ve discussed the three perks of getting a bad test grade which have been most impactful for me, but there are so many other benefits of failure, some of which are outlined in the speech I linked above. So keep striving for the best and don’t let the fear of failure hold you back- not even a little!