Blog 365 · Owlish Contemplations

Why an Intelligent Mind is a Beautiful Thing

Whoever started the myth that intelligence isn’t beautiful was wrong. The stereotype of nerds being full of knowledge but geeky and awkward in appearance does an injustice to the idea that true beauty stems from the mind and heart.

Because truly, intelligence isn’t just about knowledge of facts. It’s an assimilation of said facts into a knowledge of people and places and ideas – and the ability to communicate all that in a compelling way.

Intelligence implies higher-level thinking – the ability to grasp the complex and grapple with it – to enjoy honest dialogue and stimulating discourse. There is a certain beauty in conversations with such people where you don’t want to stop talking for there is so much to discuss and debate and enjoy.

Most of my favorite memories with people are our conversations – especially the two- or three-hour kind – the kind where time seems to stand still because the ideas being discussed are deep and rich and challenging to the mind.

The person who can make a witty joke; ask deep and meaningful questions; discuss great literature, music or art; dream big for the future; and process life through an intriguing filter – this person is one who has the beautiful mind.

If one has a beautiful mind, they will be captivating, no matter what their outward casing might contain. Are we willing, as a society, though, to consider such a shift? Are we able to not be so stuck on physical beauty and work on cultivating and appreciating the beauty of mind and soul?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing our physical bodies and faces in an appealing way, because that does foster a sense of confidence and enjoyment in God’s physical gifts.

However, I do think that encouraging intellectual beauty should also be something that we teach our children – to not be ashamed of loving to read and discover and think deeply. To enjoy finding out answers to problems and creating solutions where ones might not currently exist. We should teach them that pursuing education should be a joy because God gave us a mind to use, and He is honored when we use it to further glorify Him.

Am I saying people who aren’t “smart” aren’t beautiful? Not at all – but then, we also have to ask ourselves what our measure of “smart” is. Because I’m certainly not going around with an intelligence meter, shunning those who don’t quite measure up, for if I did, I myself wouldn’t even qualify!

I am most definitely not the one with the above average IQ, but I think there are different ways to be intelligent (okay, actually, that came from Howard Gardner) – and I think those who are eager to learn about anything and everything are the “smartest.”

As the quote says in my classroom – “Smart isn’t something you are – Smart is something you become.” I am of the camp that always wants to be learning more and becoming more – and the best way to cultivate that intelligent mind is to challenge oneself in multiple different ways. Reading, appreciating artistic events (movies, theater, dance, visual art, etc.), learning a new skill, setting goals and accomplishing them, being invested in other people – all of these are the habits of those who have beautiful minds.

The people I most enjoy spending time with – the people I’m close to – have some of the most intelligent, beautiful minds I know. They would probably deny it, but it’s the truth because they are constantly inspiring me and pushing me to new heights.

Even people I don’t talk to on a regular basis, but know from past phases of my life – I see the things they are doing with their lives through social media, and I am blown away by their drive, determination, and success in what they love doing. They aren’t afraid to use their beautiful minds the way God intended them to, and it’s impacting the world for the better.

So teach your kids that it’s okay to know and use big or “rich” words. Teach them that it’s okay to sit captivated by a book for an hour or two. Teach them to marvel at the complexities of math and science. Teach them to have their breath taken away by stunning displays of artwork. Teach them to have their hearts broken by injustice and their hands quick to work to alleviate it.

Teach them to cultivate the beauty of their minds and hearts – and naturally that beauty will spill over onto their faces.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place because of it?

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