Increase Your IQ: Have Faith!
Contributed by a regular writer Peter
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalm 118:6)
I’ve always had a problem with people who are deemed ‘smart’. To me, it seems that to have the capacity to think quickly, to be analytically clever, to demonstrate insights that others miss, whilst good things, are really just about winning the genetic lottery. My problem comes honestly – I spent my elementary school days being called ‘the brain’ and expect that many things came easier to me than to many others. What I realized, however, was that ‘smart’ doesn’t always translate into ‘good’, and as such, I have learned to value, and continue to value, kindness, justice, and a loving nature far more than ability – whatever form ability takes. An individual’s merit is about what they can do with the lives they have and not about what they have been consigned by the genetic lottery.
That being said, smart applied to the good is better than stupid. We can be smart in our kindnesses, smart in our sense of justice, smart in how we give and express our love. But to be these things, we need to apply the intelligence that we have, whatever that may be.
But here’s the thing: as human beings – no matter how smart we may be – we still only have a certain ‘bandwidth’ of intelligence with which to comprehend and act in our world. And indeed, we all have a surprisingly narrow bandwidth; we cannot easily apply our mental capacity to much. We all know that people who focus mostly on one thing do so to the detriment of all other things.
And what do we focus on most of all? We focus on those things that threaten us. We focus on the problems or potential problems in our lives. It only makes sense. Why focus on things that are ‘working’ in our lives (the good things) when what really threatens us are the problems.
What this means is that those things we most fear are those things that take most of our ‘bandwidth’ – those things take most of our intelligence. This isn’t just idle speculation: in a recent book (2013) by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir entitled Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, the authors determine that people who live in the fear wrought by poverty are in fact stupider because of that fear. Their mental ‘bandwidth’ is so occupied with fear that that they haven’t the intelligence left over to deal effectively with their lives. Poverty creates its own powerful form of fear for most people, but fear in any form can be intellectually debilitating. Most people know fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of injury, fear of loss, fear of the unknown, and fear of death. Fears often lead to repeated ruminations, that ‘broken record’ of repetitive negative thoughts. And within this realm, we become stupid.
But what if there was a way to free ourselves from fear? What if we could break free of negative ruminations of fear? Well, we become more intelligent. And we become better able to be smart in kindness, justice, and love.
And of course, the above question “what if there was a way to free ourselves from fear” is rhetorical. Jesus died on the cross so that we might be free of fear. All we need do is accept his freedom-from-fear gift. It’s that simple.