13 surprising things intelligent people do differently

Do you know someone who makes you go “Wow, they’re intelligent”? I bet you’ve secretly wanted to be more like them – but you’re not sure where to start!

Contrary to popular belief, intelligence is not just about getting good grades or successfully climbing the corporate ladder.

It’s a way of life that these people have perfected!

Here are some surprising things intelligent people do to stand out above the rest. Let’s find out what they are…

1) They don’t plan for the future

One surprising thing intelligent people do is avoid planning for the future, whenever possible.

Intelligent people are always bursting with ideas and can’t stand being restricted. In fact, they prefer going with the flow so they can join a last-minute outing or cancel a meeting!

Know that it all depends on how they feel. But they’re always confident they can make their schedule work.

If you want to become more intelligent, allow yourself some flexibility – it’ll pay off in the end!

2) They embrace failure

Here’s another thing that intelligent people do differently: they embrace failure, knowing it’s inevitable in life.

How do we grow as people if we never make a mistake? Intelligent people have a lot of experience in trying and failing.

My point is that they never give up, even when the situation is especially challenging.


Intelligent people know there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. But if there isn’t, well, it would still be a valuable lesson they can learn from!

3) They value negative emotions

Apart from persevering through challenges, intelligent people know how to handle negative emotions. In fact, they value them!

That’s because negative emotions are a way for your mind to tell you something important about your life.

Here’s an example.

Maybe you’ve lost the excitement you felt at your job when you first started! While you may think it’s a normal part of life, it might not be…

It could be a sign you need to quit, and find a job that constantly challenges you.

Intelligent people are highly in tune with their emotions, even the negative ones. This allows them to make the right choices about their life without wasting any time!

4) They stay up learning new things

Another surprising thing intelligent people do is that they’re accustomed to staying up late and learning new things.

I know, I know.

Why stay up late when you can work during the day?

A secret about intelligent people is that they tend to be late sleepers, as they’re able to stay focused throughout the night.

That’s probably why your intelligent friend likes to ping you at night. It’s when their brain works at top speed!

Intelligent people love learning new things at night because they concentrate better; it’s also when most of their ideas come.

If you’re trying to learn a new skill, allocate some time after work to really get engrossed…

5) They take criticism seriously

Let’s face it: criticism is necessary when you’re trying to get better at something! Haven’t we all been told off at a job or received feedback on a test?

But when I say that intelligent people take criticism seriously, I don’t mean they let it get them down…

Intelligent people believe that criticism is important in helping them learn more about their strengths and weaknesses. After all, the only thing that matters to them is improving their skills!

Even if they DO think someone’s criticizing them for no reason, intelligent people will see the situation objectively without taking offence.

6) They don’t act impulsively

Here’s another surprising thing about intelligent people: they never act impulsively, no matter how tempting it is!

Without self-control, you might make a decision that leads to dire consequences. And that’s the last thing an intelligent person wants.

Like I mentioned earlier, intelligent people prefer not to plan for the future. That doesn’t mean they don’t plan at all…

If you’re trying to become more intelligent, think things through before taking action – even if it’s only a small matter!

7) They keep to a schedule

Now that we know how intelligent people think, it’s time to discuss how they organize their lives.

Intelligent people always keep to a schedule, meaning, they never procrastinate on sh*t that needs to get done…

If you want to be more like your intelligent friends, make a list of things to do every day.

But be sure to complete them!

Intelligent people are always thinking about how to use their time wisely. If you do the same, you’re guaranteed to become a more productive person!

8) They prefer time on their own

Apart from keeping to a schedule, intelligent people most definitely prefer time on their own.

I know what you’re thinking: am I referring to the lone wolf stereotype?

Yes, I am!

Intelligent people tend to spend a lot of time alone because they are highly self-aware individuals who find it hard to fit in society.

They also know it’s necessary to live out their truth. Even if that means not finding anyone to relate to!

However, it doesn’t always mean intelligent people consider themselves outcasts in society. And that’s what leads me to my next point…

9) They observe others closely

While intelligent people tend to behave like lone wolves, it’s not something to feel sorry for: being alone is what gives them the ability to carve out their own values!

Let me explain.

Many people live by the values and norms of society without ever going out of their comfort zones. But then again, they’ve never had the chance to challenge these ideas!

It can be a surprising thing for intelligent people to do, but they spend a lot of time observing other people.

Why is that?

Intelligent people know there’s a lot they can learn from people they meet, perhaps even a stranger at the bar.

If you want to become more intelligent, pay attention to your surroundings. Even if what you see at first doesn’t seem worth your attention!

10) They question the norm

This is another thing that intelligent people do differently: they question the norm!

If you’re confused, the “norm” is a way of life that is taken up by the majority of people in society. But the norm as we know it isn’t necessarily bad…

The thing is, though, we may get too comfortable with these habits and never explore other ways of thinking.

This is a situation that intelligent people find problematic – and which they try to avoid!

Intelligent people question the norm by educating themselves about the world around them.

Here’s how they do it.

It could be anything from reading about a different culture to taking a job in another country, so long as they get to do something they’ve never done before…

11) They don’t just think, they take action

As we’ve explored, intelligent people are full of ideas which they never fail to bring to life. Case in point: questioning the norm and making an effort to challenge it!

And that’s why I want to bring up this trait of theirs: intelligent people don’t just think, they do!

When we get stuck in a loop of thinking, we tend to procrastinate. We believe we haven’t done enough research to start on a project, or aren’t skilled enough to take on a new challenge.

But that’s not the way to live.

Intelligent people know that you can’t grow without failure; I even mentioned this earlier!

If you want to become more intelligent, get out there and do stuff. Your future self will thank you for the experiences…

12) They seek challenges in life

By now, it should be obvious that intelligent people seek challenges whenever they can. And they don’t mind getting their a** kicked once in a while!

Intelligent people know that life is about becoming your best self. And that’s why they need new challenges and bigger goals to work towards…

In case you were wondering, intelligent people don’t get to where they are because they know how to take the easy way out.

Rather, it’s because they have enough confidence to know they’ll always make it through to the other side!

13) They never think they’re smart enough

Another surprising thing intelligent people do is that despite their confidence, they never think they’re smart enough.

It’s not that they’re secretly insecure, though; in fact, it’s the opposite!

Many intelligent people downplay their skills so they are motivated to improve themselves. If you think you’re at the top of your game, you’ll never feel the need to move forward.

That’s something intelligent people never want – they know there’s always a new skill to pick up or a task they can get even better at.


Being an intelligent person isn’t easy; it seems like all they do is set high standards for everybody else to follow!

If you want to become more like your intelligent friends, remember what you’ve learnt in this article.

Use these tactics to live your best life – and maybe you’ll even inspire someone else to do the same!

Juliana Mei

Juliana Mei

Juliana Mei is a content writer and marketer who's passionate about finding the best way to position your brand to your audience. She finds joy in art, music and literature, and most importantly, through writing, which she hopes to inspire others by.

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