Book Smart Does Not Mean Life Smart


No doubt you have noticed that many people with a Ph.D. degree aren't very happy - and some of the happiest people in this world don't even know what a Ph.D. is! Contrary to popular belief, education has little to do with how much happiness and satisfaction people get out of life. What's more, an individual can have a fancy education, but still not be very wise. In other words, book smart does not mean life smart.

Upon graduation, many university students believe that they are the elite of humanity, destined to experience incredible fame, fortune, adventure, and romance at an early age. After several years in the work force, however, they may be trapped working on meaningless projects, without any hope of creative fulfillment, joy, and personal success. Even the most brilliant of university graduates may wind up going nowhere emotionally, financially, or socially.


Here's the bottom line: There is a big difference between intellectual people and intelligent people. Ironically, many intellectuals have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Thus, the words by an unknown wise person: "Education is what helps a lot of folks get along without intelligence." Seymour Epstein, a researcher and psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, agrees. He found that emotional intelligence is more powerful than academic intelligence. Epstein's research indicates that emotional intelligence - being life smart - is crucial for life success.


Emotional intelligence has little to do with our IQ or education. Emotional intelligence involves taking action about a situation rather than complaining about it. It also entails the ability not to take things personally and not to fret about what others think. Being life smart determines a great range of life's successes, from salaries and promotions, to satisfying human relations, to physical and emotional health.


Study the behaviors and attitudes of the truly successful of this world and you will discover that being intellectual is not what makes them peak performers. A survey found that high school was the highest level of education for 30 percent of wealthy entrepreneurs. To be sure, the successful people of this world did not learn the secrets of handling failure and inner mobility at universities or colleges. They learned these secrets in the arena called life by doing and not just thinking about doing.


Clearly, many underlying factors help determine an individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. It may come as a surprise to some people that a degree from Harvard or Stanford is not essential for being life smart. A university degree doesn't teach people how to deal with the pressures of life or how to attain happiness and satisfaction. A university student may learn what is wrong with the economy but not how to make a comfortable living as an entrepreneur in a depressed economy.


"We receive three educations," according to the French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu: "One from our parents, one from our schoolmasters, and one from the world. The third contradicts all that the first two teach us." The really important things you learn in life are the result of your real education - an education that has nothing to do with the curricula in place at schools and universities. You acquire this education through your personal experiences, far removed from your formal education.


You probably know several people who have less formal education than you do but who have attained remarkable success in some field. You may also know others who have a limited education and make a great living. These people should be sufficient evidence that you are capable of the same. You do not need more formal education; what you need is to be more life smart.



Being life smart is having the ability to assess situations and then take action accordingly. A doctorate can't take the place of real-life experiences combined with the powers of imagination, motivation, and action. If you are thinking of going back to university to get a Ph.D. degree, be careful with the knowledge that you acquire. Much of it will be useless in the game of life. You will also discover that it's much harder to get rid of a Ph.D. than to acquire one!




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