What does being smart really mean?
Depends on who you ask.
To me, being smart means you have a handle on all areas of your life.
You can’t get a handle on them all at once, but you can build one pillar rock-solid and begin to work on others. These books will help because they cover all sorts of subjects you probably need to get more knowledgeable about.
Naval Ravikant is known for packing tons of wisdom into a few sentences. He’s an entrepreneur and angel investor who’s made a name for himself by sharing his wisdom in bite-sized chunks on places like Twitter and his podcast.
His content is lucid, concise, and searingly incisive. He has his thumb on the pulse of pretty much everything.
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant collects all of his wisdom from across the web and puts it in one place. Reading it is like drinking from a firehose of insights.
Here are a few quotes to give you a peek at what you’re in for:
“Memory and identity are burdens from the past preventing us from living freely in the present.”
“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
“The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.”
How many people do you know that are intelligent when it comes to their careers but make dumb mistakes when it comes to money? Maybe you’re one of these people.
Making money, keeping it, and growing it, requires emotional intelligence and the ability to control your behavior, which is a skillset even the smartest people have a hard time with:
Investing is not the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. You can’t sum up behavior with formulas to memorize or spreadsheet models to follow. Behavior is inborn, varies by person, is hard to measure, changes over time, and people are prone to deny its existence, especially when describing themselves. Managing money isn’t necessarily about what you know; it’s how you behave.
This book goes above and beyond by giving amazing suggestions as well as letting you know about all the psychological pitfalls you’re going to run into when you try to implement them. Morgan never tells you what to do, though. The book is completely devoid of direct advice, which makes it unique.
What use is having a bunch of money and a thriving career when your relationships are shot, especially your romantic ones? It’s funny, we have all this formal education when it comes to areas pertaining to your career, but almost none when it comes to knowing ourselves and how to relate with other people, which is extremely important, to say the least.
Maybe relationships aren’t something you can learn about in school, but there are definitely books that can help you navigate the murky waters of human relationships. Enter Attached,
Attached talks about the three attachment styles that affect your relationships with others:
It gives practical wisdom to better help you understand your attachment style so you can have healthier relationships. It also helps you identify the behavior patterns and attachment styles of the people you interact with so you can make wise decisions about who to be with, too.
How often do our emotions get in the way of living a better life? Part of being smart is figuring out how to live. Can you consider yourself to be smart if you’re not, you know, happy?
Part of being happy and living a better life involves learning to let go of everything that holds you back from achieving them. You’re freer to live a life of purpose when you don’t have a ton of baggage weighing you down.
“Handling an emotional crisis leads to greater wisdom and results in lifetime benefits. Fear of life is really the fear of emotions. It is not the facts that we fear but our feelings about them. Once we have mastery over our feelings, our fear of life diminishes.”
Letting go is a book that teaches you a process you can use to, let go. It’s about learning to allow yourself to feel certain emotions instead of trying to repress them. Repressing them keeps them locked inside you forever. Feeling them fully can help you let go.
So whether you’re dealing with past traumas, negative thoughts, or experiences you’ve let define you, you can use the letting go technique to finally move past them. The book also talks about a ton of different spiritual practices that will make you smarter at your core — the area that matters most.
Street smarts are underrated. I define street smarts as the ability to get what you want. A lot of people with high intellect don’t succeed in life because they think too literally. They never look for the ‘side-door into certain opportunities and take rules at face value.
For example, most people will look at a job listing and avoid applying for it if they don’t meet the criteria.
They could learn to steal a page from Jerry Weintraub’s playbook:
When the man says no, pretend you can’t hear him. Look confused, stammer, say, “Huh?” Persistence — it’s a cliche, but it happens to work. The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down! I have accomplished almost nothing on the first or second or even the third try — the breakthrough usually comes late, when everyone else has left the field.”
The book is pretty much all about Jerry getting jobs he had no business getting in the first place — from being Elvis Presley’s road manager to getting hired at a company he literally had none of the requirements for. There’s even a story about him coming up with a million dollars in 24 hours.
How’d he do it all? He never took no for an answer without trying again. He always figured there was an angle to get what he wanted. Instead of thinking literally, he thought in a creative way and came up with solutions when there were none. It’s a truly fascinating book.
Intelligence is multi-faceted.
If you want to live a well-rounded life, you must become knowledgeable about many things. You don’t have to be a genius. You just need to know enough about a wide array of subjects.
The combination of those different pieces of knowledge will make you unstoppable.
Got any other recommendations? Leave them in the comments below.