Words of Worth

Kindness Boosts Intelligence and Happiness

June 30, 2014


DKindness and Intelligenceo you remember the scene in the movie, Forrest Gump, when Forrest sends a check to his friend Bubba’s mom for Bubba’s share of the shrimping business after Bubba died? The scene is both poignant and funny at the same time because the mom literally falls down on the porch in shock and amazement. I remember that scene after all these years because it impressed me that Forrest, whose IQ was 75, never had a moment’s debate or hesitation about sending the money; he didn’t weigh the pros and cons of his good deed. In his mind, there was no question as to what the right and kind thing was to do!

A major Russian writer once said that there are two kinds of people in Russia: smart and mean, and kind and stupid. A major American research finding once suggested that the kindest people were the ones with the lower IQs and that research would explain why Forrest was so kind.

A present day Wharton professor, Adam Grant, does suggest that there is a link between being kind and increasing one’s intelligence.  In his book, Give and Take, Grant suggests that people who are kind and giving to others, can actually increase their own intelligence quotient more so than people who tend to take from others.  Grant’s research suggests that those who volunteer their time to help other people solve their problems actually increase their own ability to solve problems and as a result become more intelligent.

Not only is kindness supposedly linked to intelligence, but it is also linked to happy and healthy marriages.  Decades of research by psychologists, Julie and John Gottman, identify kindness as the key to a happy marriage.  Specialists in marital stability, the Gottmans began collecting data in 1986 and divided couples into “masters” and “disasters”. The “disasters” were disinterested in their spouse’s interests, while the “masters” would show interest, even if they really weren’t, because it was the kind thing to do. The Gottmans suggest that what drives the deterioration of many relationships is the breakdown of kindness. These psychologists claim their research is so foolproof that they can predict with 94 percent accuracy which marriages will last a lifetime and which ones won’t-just by observing small acts of kindness over a day!

I’m not so sure if kindness has anything to do with someone’s intelligence, stability in a relationship, or categories of people. However, I am 100 percent confident that obeying God’s command to “Be kindhearted to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…” (Ephesians 4:32) is the smartest thing any of us can do!


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