9 Unexpected Habits of Geniuses (And 1 That’s Definitely Not)

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Karee Blunt

A genius doesn’t always look like you think they’re going to look. You may not find them buried in a book or lecturing in front of a class. While it is possible to find geniuses in the library or lecture hall, it is also possible to find them on the couch or up late at night.

While there has been debate about how accurate current intelligence tests are in measuring how smart people are, scientists have found that geniuses do share many of the same habits. In fact, you may be surprised by some of these habits that geniuses share. From daydreaming to cold showers, here are the habits you may not expect from today’s geniuses.

1. They’re Pretty Messy

They're Pretty Messy
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Many people think of geniuses as being highly regimented and ordered. While that may be true for their schedules, studies have shown that messy desks can be a sign of high intelligence.

One reason this could be is that order and neatness can restrict creative thinking while a little disorder can spark creative thinking.

2. They Daydream

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People with high intelligence tend to have very active imaginations. Letting their minds wander and daydream gives them the creative stimulation they need throughout the day. Scientists have also found that taking “brain breaks” and daydreaming allows people to continue working on solving difficult problems in the back of their mind.

3. They Love to Doodle

margin you make during meetings
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It’s time to look a little closer at those drawings in the margin you make during meetings. Doodling is a great way to process information and solve problems. It allows those with too many ideas at once to quickly get them down in a way that enables them to more fully process the idea later.

4. Geniuses Stay Up Late

They wake up late.
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Not a morning person? Neither are geniuses! There are a few competing theories as to why this is. One says that it’s written in their genes, and the differences in brain chemistry mean people with higher IQs tend to work better late at night. The other posits that nighttime is better for more focused, creative work because there are fewer distractions.

5. They Take Cold Showers

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No one can doubt the therapeutic value of a hot shower. However, there are many brain benefits to taking the occasional cold shower that many highly intelligent people take advantage of regularly. Regularly dousing yourself in cold water has been shown to pump fresh blood to our brains, which improves our mood, memory, and productivity.

6. They’re Forgetful

man feeling regret yellow background
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The cliche of the scatterbrained genius is one that is rooted in reality. Highly intelligent people tend to focus their thinking on abstract problem-solving and overlook smaller details, such as where they left their keys or what appointments they have that day. By forgetting these kinds of unrelated details, their minds stay uncluttered and focused on harder problems.

7. They Talk to Themselves

talk to yourself
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As embarrassing as it may be, talking to yourself is a sign of higher intelligence. Processing things out loud helps you to clarify and organize your thoughts. It also helps you remember things better and for longer periods of time.

8. They’re Critical of Themselves

Team MIting
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While we tend to think of geniuses as very confident, the opposite is more likely to be true. Research has dubbed this the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after the two researchers who first documented the phenomenon.

According to Dunning and Kruger, poor performers are more likely to overestimate their skills because they lack the expertise to know what they don’t know. High performers, however, know they don’t know everything and are, therefore, more likely to underestimate their skills.

9. They Can Be Couch Potatoes

The comfort of your own home
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Geniuses don’t need to seek out activities for mental stimulation. Their active imaginations and problem-solving abilities mean they are perfectly content to get all the stimulation they need from the comfort of their own home.

And One Thing Geniuses Don’t Do…Waste Time

two bored women wasting time on phones
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Exceptionally smart people focus on what they can change and accept what they can’t. They know that wasting time means missing out on opportunities.

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