Intelligence is a complex ability, not only involves being able to quickly process information and bring together seemingly unrelated ideas to solve problems, but also to be flexible enough to change direction when we find ourselves in a dead end and even have a high level self-control
However, researchers at the University of Rochester have found that smarter people have another common feature: they are able to block or ignore unnecessary information. The brain of people who have a higher I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) automatically ignores irrelevant information.
Being able to block the irrelevant information is a feature of a more efficient brain
A group of people underwent a series of tests that evaluated their I.Q. and then saw a video showing small and large objects moving, very slowly, left or right on a screen. The goal was to identify the direction of the movement.
Why this task?
Because we know that it is more difficult for our brains to follow the movements of large objects, but it is finely tuned to detect the finer movements since these can represent a greater danger. Therefore, this task reveals how efficiently our brain works when all kinds of stimuli are processed.
These psychologists discovered that the differences between people in correctly identifying the direction of movement of small and large objects had a close relationship with their I.Q., the model was clear: the more difficult it was to detect the movements of larger objects and the more precise with the small ones, the higher was the I.Q.
This simple experiment refers to suppression, the ability to inhibit irrelevant information that can distract us from our goal. Undoubtedly, the ability to block the elements of the environment that can distract us is essential to be able to focus on data that are truly relevant and allow us to find faster a solution.
Blocking what is not important is also essential to be happy
Being able to ignore everything that is not worth it not only allows us to process information faster and focus on our goals, but it is also essential to be happy. In fact, one of the keys to emotional balance is precisely that of being able to analyze the facts in their proper measure, without giving them more importance than what they have or deserve.
Therefore, the happiest people share a common trait: they turn a deaf ear to those things that harm them and do not bring any value. These people block:
– The destructive criticism, because they know that this type of opinions say more than those who criticize than those who are criticized, being aware that they cannot bring them value but that their goal is often only to cause damage.
– The small daily frustrations, because they understand that a mishap is not a reason enough to ruin the day. These people have learned to flow, quickly freeing the negative emotions that can be generated by minor setbacks and everyday conflicts.
– Toxic people, that is, they know that for someone to harm them they must first give him the power to do it. Therefore, the most intelligent and happy people do not allow others to discharge on them their fears, frustrations, anger and anxiety.
– Negative inner dialogue, because they are aware that sometimes we are our worst enemy. Therefore, these people learn to dominate the inner dialogue or, at least, do not allow it to make them feel bad or prevent them from pursuing their dreams.
Melnick, M. D. et. Al. (2013) A Strong Interactive Link between Sensory Discriminations and Intelligence. Current Biology; 23(11): 1013-1017.