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How to Tell If a Person Is Smart in 3 Minutes or Less

How to Tell If a Person Is Smart in 3

We’re not here to discuss the intricacies of intelligence or what makes someone smart, so let’s just get that out of the way.

Yes, we know that things like I.Q. are controversial. And yes, we know that intelligence can be defined in many ways. Yes, our current methods of measuring intelligence need to change.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Some people are smarter than others. And, sometimes, we need to be able to tell if a person’s smart.

Maybe we’re a business owner and need to hire a sharp mind. Perhaps we’re looking for the best and brightest doctor to keep us healthy. Or maybe a brilliant tutor to help our child sharpen their skills.

We want to person we’re hiring to have a good head on their shoulders.

How can we find out who’s smart in a time-efficient manner?

A select group of folks from Quora chimed in – and the writer selected just one. Not only does the answer make the most logical sense, but it’s also valid from both a common-sense perspective and an empirical one.

For reference, the original question is: How can I identify the smartest person in the room?

One Timothy Emmanuel Lim wrote the answer that the writer chose to use. So, Mr. Lim, if you happen to come across this article, thank you for your incredible insights.

“Different smart people, different cues to look out for.”

To give Mr. Lim his full proper credit, and to account subsequent edits made, the response has been posted in its entirety. (Please see the edited portions in ‘3. It includes the element of humility.’)

‘Different smart people, different cues to look out for.

The smartest person (in no particular order) is most often;

  1. The hardest to verbally challenge (they may have opinions, but it’s purely derived from facts and logic).
  2. The quietest (they’re listening very closely and attentively — still water runs deep).
  3. The most observant (the little things that count are the big things to see — God is in the details).
  4. The fastest to question (and the hardest to answer).
  5. The most reserved, but not shy (because they’re constantly thinking, listening, and processing thoughts, rather than wasting time assuming and unfiltering their comments).
  6. The least reactive (because they know what to expect and not get surprised).
  7. The hardest to convince (while rebutting endlessly).
  8. The most open to question and being proved wrong (truth be above all things — including one’s ego).
  9. The most (logically) critical.
  10. The most bored-looking (not bored, just thinking about other things).
  11. The most unamused (mainly because things may get too predictable).
  12. The most direct (without being rude).
  13. The most secretly attentive (watch the eyes, it’s the greatest indicator).
  14. The most curious (not hyperactive).
  15. The most calm and controlled (rationality keeps the head calm).
  16. The most incomprehensible (some intellects are so superior, they’re too intelligent to be understood, given the right circumstances — thirties communication range).
  17. The most unorthodox (lateral thinking often proves intellectual superiority).
  18. The most receptive (open-minded).
  19. The most verbally intense.
  20. The one who looks the most dumb (circumstantial — never judge a book by its cover).
  21. The least impressed (they’re impressed by things not many people are impressed by, vice-versa).
  22. The least outwardly impressive (again, still water runs deep — they usually don’t care about other’s impressions of them).

Of course, these are some characteristics. The smartest person in the room doesn’t need to display all 22 because it can be subjective to character, personality, views, and upbringing.

The list is non-exhaustive. There are also exceptions here and there.

The smartest is not to be confused with the most knowledgeable. The two characteristics often go hand-in-hand but are independent of each other.

And smart people don’t often think of themselves as smart.

Why Lim is Right

There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get to it.

Lim’s response makes sense for two reasons: (1) the humility with which it is written, and (2) the (probable) truth behind its assertions.

I wanted to check Mr. Lim’s credentials by reading some of his Quora posts. He does indeed craft his answers with what seems to be a piercing logic. He writes well and is extremely thorough in both his original postings and in his replies. Moreover, he cites references and is detail-oriented – two marks of a good writer. He’s most certainly of above-average intelligence, a.k.a., smart.

Most importantly, he is humble and openminded. These, too, as we will find out, are common characteristics of smart people.

I then got into the meat of Lim’s answer – and am in total agreement on just about every point. Here’s why:

  1. It mirrors a subjective experience.

Now, the writer doesn’t often consider himself the “smartest person in the room.” With all humility, the writer supposes that he’s relatively bright. He has a pretty good education and has scored around the 95th percentile on a certified I.Q. test. He doesn’t say this to be a braggart, but merely to demonstrate that he may have a unique perspective on Lim’s observations.

Throughout his life, because of the accomplishments above, he has also had to privilege to hang around incredibly smart people. A few of whom he considers his friends.

And most of them fit what Lin says to a T. They’re smart without showing it; quiet, receptive, and respectful; reserved and non-reactive; curious and openminded; humble and unassuming.

Indeed, this writer’s own subjective experience with smart people is nearly dead-on with what Lim describes. While this isn’t empirical evidence, it’s quite strong – and it’s commonsensical.

  1. The author describes introversion, which is related to high I.Q.

If you read through Mr. Lim’s list, you’ll notice that pretty much every line applies to the introvert.

Why is this important?

Because there exists a direct link between introversion and high intelligence. In a study  undertaken by researchers at University of North Georgia (USA), researchers state in the introduction “It’s (noted) that introverts may exhibit higher I.Q. scores due to their calculated and analytical predisposition because they are more prone to think through things rather than being impulsive.”

Included in the analysis were 59 female undergraduate students; 41 tested as extroverts and 18 as introverts. The introverted group “had significantly better I.Q. scores” than their extroverted counterparts.

Multiple other studies have reached a similar conclusion: introverts are (generally) smarter.

  1. It includes the element of humility, which is characteristic of smart people.

Most smart people exhibit an air of humility, and the ones that don’t aren’t the smart people you want to associate with, anyways. Mr. Lim includes two excellent quotes that typify a smart person’s attitude towards their own and others intelligence:

“I know I’m intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” — Socrates

And an even better quote to corroborate;

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” — Albert Einstein

Of Socrates, Lim adds:

“A dissection on the quote of Socrates; Socrates states that the more you know — the more aware of what you don’t know, realizing that there is only so much your mind is capable of understanding, henceforth paradoxically stating that intelligent people understand their limitations and therefore humbly acknowledges that they’re not knowledgeable (enough)…”

It should also be noted that Lim’s response includes open-mindedness, curiosity, reservation, and quietness as character traits of smart people. Such traits are often associated with humility, as well.

We could also strengthen the argument for Lin’s insights by pairing #3 with #2. We most often link humility with introverted personalities, which, as we’ve shown, links to higher intelligence.

  1. It makes sense (look at the smart people in your life, including yourself!)

Lin’s answer makes almost total sense. I say almost because it is missing what I believe to be a crucial element: a good heart. Heart intelligence is a real thing, and it is important.

So, Mr. Lim, may I suggest that you add the 23rd item to your list? Let’s keep it simple: “They have a good heart.”

Final Thoughts on Discerning a Smart Person

After you find the “smartest person in the room,” make sure they have the heart to go with it.


How to Get Into a Flow State in Two Minutes

How to Get Into a Flow State in Two Minutes

Do you struggle to get into a flow state and stay focused on one task at a time?

Most people live in a state of constant distractibility, their attention adrift. We’ve accepted this way of being as “normal” – a byproduct of the human brain.

Eh, yes and no!

There’s no doubt that the reptilian part of the brain – the brain stem, amygdala, and so forth produces most of the fight-or-flight responses and that these may interrupt attention. The epigenetic toll of living among wild beasts and aggressive neighbors did little to help.

While some automaticity of the brain and mind is indeed innate (“programmed,” if you will), we can train ourselves to become much less susceptible to its pull. The problem? Most people don’t know this fact. As a result, their life’s experience consists mainly of being on ‘autopilot’ – driven by impulse and whim.

Something even scarier: most people were on ‘autopilot’ before all of these distractions, gizmos, and gadgets became so ubiquitous.

Meet the Father of Modern Psychology, William James

William James, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Psychology,” was the first to write of attention in his masterwork, “The Principles of Psychology,” published in 1890.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. James had little good to say about the state of most people’s attentional faculties:

“[Humans] all know of this state (distraction) … even in its extreme degree. Most people fall several times a day into a fit of something like this: The eyes are fixed on a vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention is dispersed…”

In other words, blank stares, inability to listen, and scattered thoughts. Sound familiar?

Little has changed in 130 years. Fast-forward to present-day, and our attention is as “dispersed” as ever. Sit at a café and see how many people are staring blankly at their smartphone.  Go to a restaurant and see how many children fail to get the notice of their parents.

It shouldn’t needn’t be this way. You can sharpen your attentional faculties – and become as “laser-focused” as you want to. So says the latest scientific research.

Excited? You should be! Mr. James would be thrilled, remarking in his book that education in attention would be “an education par excellence.”

Now, if dispersed attention is one end of the mental state spectrum, then ‘flow’ – a term coined by famed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – is its polar opposite.

We’re going to talk about the flow state – and how you can get into it in as little as a couple of minutes. We’ll use the latest and greatest in scientific research and a favorite brain hack to help get us there.

Let’s briefly discuss why attention is so crucial to our happiness.

First Thing’s First: Attention Determines Our Reality

“For the moment, what we attend to is reality.” ~ William James

Read the above quote a couple of more times, slowly.

Did you read it? Good. Try memorizing it – because it’s that important to your life.

James’ words aren’t mere platitudes or useless hyperbole. In just nine words, the father of modern psychology explains why attention is of critical importance. The people, places, things, emotions, mental activity – anything and everything – to which we attend shapes our reality. And the quality of our existence – how happy we are – depends a lot on how we direct and sustain our attention.

Buddhists and Hindu yogis have known the essentiality of attention for thousands of years. In fact, many would argue, cutting-edge attentional training isn’t to be found in tech or brain hacks, but in meditation practice.

So, why not just learn meditation? Well, you can (and should, coming from a meditation junkie…the benefits are enormous!) However, unlike the recommendations provided below, meditation takes a while to get down.

But I digress.

What we’re looking for is a more “Westernized” approach to honing the attention. Something fast, efficient, and accessible.

But what would fit such a bill?

Enter binaural beats.

The Science of Binaural Beats

“…Binaural beats appear to improve the related processes of memory and attention. The same meta-analysis that found significant effects on anxiety also reported medium-sized effects on different kinds of memory, both short- and long-term.” ~ Seth J. Gillihan, Ph.D. (Source)

Binaural beats work by exposing both ears to slightly different frequencies. The difference between these frequencies enters the brain as a pulse. For example, if the rhythm you hear in your left ear is 140 Hertz (Hz), while in the right ear, it’s 100 Hz, your brain will perceive a 40 Hz pulsation.

Your conscious mind won’t detect the difference, but your brain certainly will, and, as a result of the beat exposure, will “shift” how it is operating. How it shifts depends, among other things, on the beat’s frequency.

train brain stop worrying

Here’s a list of frequencies and their known cognitive correlations:

BrainwaveFrequencyCognitive Effects
Delta0.5-4 HzSleep, Comatose
Theta4-8 HzDeeply relaxed, inward focus
Alpha8-12 HzVery relaxed, passive attention
Beta12-35 HzLow-End: External attention, relaxation. High-end: Anxiety-dominant, active (potentially overactive)
Gamma35-50 HzHigh-level information processing, high focus


It must be reiterated at this point that properly produced binaural beats are scientifically sound (see this 2019 metanalysis, published in the journal Psychological Research for one of the latest examples.). Even the most skeptical studies document that binaural beats produce advertised brainwave frequencies.

(Sidenote on scientific criticism of binaural beats: The rub lies with mainstream science’s rejection of subjective “feeling states,” claiming that these are neither reproducible nor observable. Binaural beats are just one of the punching bags of materialistic scientists, joining such practices as meditation and mindfulness. Apparently, it doesn’t matter to some scientists that millions of people attest to the difference that these practices have made in their personal or professional lives. Oh, and the thousands upon thousands of scientifically rigorous studies that have been done on meditation and mindfulness.)

sixth sense
Here are ten ways to sharpen your sixth sense.

‘Flow’ and Binaural Beats

“In positive psychology, a flow state … is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process or activity.”  ~ Wikipedia (Source)

Provided that binaural beats induce a shift in the brain’s operation, and that flow is a brain state, it stands to reason that binaural beats can help to encourage flow.

A word about the task of choice. You can’t enter a flow state if the difficulty of the work exceeds your ability to perform it. You must choose an activity where there’s a balance between both variables. The task should be challenging enough to demand your full attention to the point that it pushes your capabilities but doesn’t exceed them. Easy jobs aren’t going to get you in a state of flow, either.

It’s also much easier to enter a state of flow if the task is, at worst, one that evokes neutral feelings. It’s much more challenging to enter a flow state if you hate the job. (Binaural beats will probably help you stomach the job, however!)

Here are the components for the flow experience for your reference:

The conditions of flow

The balance between challenge and skill
Clear goals and feedback

The subjective states of flow

Intense concentration
Merging of action and awareness
Loss of self-consciousness
Strong sense of control
Distortion of the temporal experience (“losing track of time”)
Experience of intrinsic reward (from the concentration itself)


Okay, so you’ve found the task to be completed. You’ve got your (stereo!) headphones and are eager to get in the flow. What now?

Now you’ve got to choose the right beat. Remember, binaural beats produce a pulsation in the brain of a specific frequency. We’ve got a beat that falls somewhere along the wavelength frequency experienced in the state of flow.

The Brain Waves of a Flow State

Research shows that flow states produce brainwaves between 12.5 and 15 Hz, also known as Sensorimotor Rhythms (SMR). SMR is associated with numerous beneficial conditions of mind and body, including:

– Physical and mental calm

– Non-impulsivity

– Heightened external awareness

– Increased energy levels

– Flow states

– Promotion of healthy sleep patterns

Clinicians who specialize in brainwave therapy, or neurofeedback, induce SMR levels to “assist with concentration, reading speed and energy levels as well as for help with epilepsy, ADHD, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, and autism.” (Source)

As the range of 12.5 to 15 Hz is borderline-Alpha, you may find that listening to a beat in the Alpha wavelength may help with more easily sustained attention and, ideally, flow. As everyone’s brain is different, it’s impossible to prescribe a narrow set of wavelengths that will work for everyone.

Final Thoughts on Reaching Your Flow State

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you try to reach a flow state? Give binaural beats a shot! You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain!


How to Flatten Your Stomach (in 10 Minutes or Less) »

How to Flatten Your Stomach (in 10 Minutes or Less)

The stomach is one of the most common areas where fat tends to accumulate. Many lifestyle factors lead to getting a bit of a rounder belly. If you’re looking to flatten your stomach, there are a few things you can do. These tips will help burn off that excess fat and reduce swelling and bloating in your stomach.

Here are five of the best ways to flatten your stomach. Best of all, you can do it in about 10 minutes or less per day.

5 Ways to Flatten Your Stomach

flatten your stomach 1 – Abdominals Exercises

One of the most obvious ways to flatten your stomach is to do abdominals exercises. The goal is to burn off excess body fat around the belly and tone the abdominal muscles. In time, this leads to an overall flatter and leaner stomach area. When picking a workout routine to target your stomach, you’ll want to do exercises that focus on your core muscles and perform high repetition exercises. These are exercises like sit-ups, V-ups, planks, bicycle crunches, leg lifts, and mountain climbers.

Combining these exercises with HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) could give you even better results. For HIIT, pick a set of four activities. For twenty seconds, do as many of the exercises as you possibly can. After those twenty seconds are up, rest for ten seconds, and then for the next twenty seconds, try to break the number you just hit. Spend about two and a half minutes on each exercise, totaling about a ten-minute workout.

You’ll be sore, and probably barely able to move after your first work out. But that just shows that it’s working. Between the cardio from the intensity and the specific exercises working the abdominal muscles, you’ll notice a difference in a matter of weeks. You can even increase the duration of the activities from twenty seconds up to thirty if it starts getting too easy for you.

2 – Drink More Water

Our body runs on water and needs water to perform its day to day functions. Water is an active component in cellular respiration, a reaction that plays into the metabolic process. If you don’t have enough water in your system, your body isn’t getting the fuel it needs to properly keep your metabolism going strong, which can lead to a buildup of fat.

Another benefit of drinking more water is that if you drink more water before meals, you’ll feel fuller. If you feel more full earlier into your meal, you’ll eat less and put on less additional weight since you’re not overeating. This helps you better control your appetite as well, and eventually train yourself to eat less food at each meal.

Lastly, sometimes a bulging stomach isn’t caused by fat at all. Bloating and swelling due to gas or constipation can also lead to a larger rounded belly.

Water has a cleansing effect on the body. It helps with the detoxification process, as well as helping to flush out the system. Adding more water to your diet can help flush your system, clearing up constipation or bloating that is causing your belly to protrude or swell.

bloated stomach

3 – Eat Fiber

Fiber is excellent for water absorption from food in the body, as it slows the process of passing food through the digestive tract. Since the effects of eating fiber start at early as delaying the emptying of your stomach contents into the duodenum of the small intestine, this will leave your stomach fuller for longer, and make the stomach swell, which in turn will curb your appetite.

On top of this, fiber has the added benefit of reducing the number of calories your body is able to absorb. This consumption makes for fewer calories. You’ll have to burn off later to keep a stable weight. Soluble fiber also helps prevent the buildup of fat around the organs, leading to a slimmer waist and stomach.

This makes adding some fiber to your diet a great way to flatten your stomach. Fiber can be found in a variety of foods, mostly oats, flaxseeds, legumes, and brussels sprouts.

4 – Consume Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that help to promote overall gut health. Your stomach uses a combination of acids and live bacteria to fully break down food before passing it on to the rest of the digestive tract. If you start putting on too much weight, sometimes this balance is shifted and thrown out of whack. This shift can significantly affect weight gain and distribution.

Consuming probiotics can help shift things back towards a healthy balance and gut health, increasing the number of good bacteria in your stomach and helping promote weight loss and proper weight distribution.

Some specific strains of probiotics have been linked to reduced belly fat, including these three:

1. Lactobacillus fermentum

2. Lactobacillus amylovorus

3. Lactobacillus gasseri

You can add more probiotics into your diet through either probiotic supplements or eating foods like yogurt, kimchi, and pickles. If you want to help flatten your stomach, consume probiotics. It’s that simple.

dietary fiber foods

5 – Reduce Your Stress Levels

Prolonged stress can have a variety of harmful effects on the body. While the stress response is supposed to give us the energy and heightened awareness to get us through a dangerous situation, modern life has conditioned our minds and bodies to interpret a wide range of circumstances as stressful, ranging from actual problems to minor inconveniences. This chronic stress keeps our bodies in a state of fight or flight, which is excellent for short bursts but can wear on our bodies as time goes on.

When under the effects of stress, our body’s priorities are increasing blood flow to the muscles, heart, lungs, and brain, diverting blood away from the digestive organs. Stress also triggers an adrenal response, causing a burst of energy and sugar retention to help fuel the body.

Under normal conditions where you need to actually fight or flight, this gives your body the energy it needs in a pinch. Since most stress is more emotional and based on life circumstances, though, rather than something like outrunning a bear, the prolonged stress leads to slower digestion, lower metabolism, and the conversion of unused sugars retained thanks to the stress response being converted into fat.

Using stress relief techniques like meditation, yoga, running, writing, journaling, and making art can actually help flatten your stomach. The more relaxed you are throughout the day and the less time you spend stressed, the longer your parasympathetic nervous system is allowed to remain in control, meaning your digestive tract is getting the full blood supply it needs, and your metabolism is running on full capacity.

Your cortisol levels are also kept lower, which also helps keep your weight down. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can lead to increased appetite and fat retention.

Bonus Tips to Flatten Your Stomach

If you’re looking to flatten your stomach, there are a lot of things you can do to help. While we’ve mostly focused on these five techniques, there are still more ways you can help reduce your weight through diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle changes. Other things you can do to help lose weight are:

  • Eat More Protein
  • Get Enough Sleep
  • Make Use of Intermittent Fasting
  • Take Fish Oil
  • Limit Your Sugar Intake
  • Use Coconut Oil
  • Cut Back on Alcohol
  • Be More Active Throughout The Day
  • Limit Your Carb Intake

flatten your stomachFinal Thoughts on How to Flatten Your Stomach With Little Effort

At the end of the day, flattening your stomach isn’t necessarily hard to do in practice. It’s not some herculean task that only those willing to pump iron and lift heavy weights can do. What it does require, though, is an openness to change, having the discipline to stick to new habits and lifestyle changes, and a lot of patience.

Weight loss isn’t a ‘blink, and you’ll miss’ it experience, but more of a prolonged journey with gradual results. As long as you keep on the right path, your results will come, and those results can be different for each person. Some people might start seeing a difference in a matter of days, while others might take weeks of dedication to a strict diet and routine before they start seeing any significant results.

The takeaway here is don’t get discouraged, keep at it, and don’t let an immediate lack of results get you down. These methods are proven to work, but they take time. After incorporating these methods into your day to day life, not only will you eventually start to see that stomach flatten, but you’ll also begin to feel healthier and more energized overall.

While these techniques are framed around fat burning, in actuality, they’re also good to keep with just for staying healthy in general. So if you’re looking to do more than just burn fat and trim down that belly, introducing these five techniques into your day to day life will help you slim down and stay healthy.