The Sybervision organization (1-800-678-0887) offers a variety of
audio and video tapes about self-discipline, achievement, winning,
setting high goals, positive mental attitude, etc.
Straight Thinking, Common Sense,
and Good Arguments
For most of the last 2000 years or more, we humans were
considered the only "rational animal." Then, about 100 years ago,
Freud challenged our rationality with the idea of powerful unconscious
motives. Since then psychology has found many, many ways in
addition to unconscious drives that we humans make mental errors.
Humans are still remarkably clever but we have our blind spots and
our false beliefs. For instance, 93% of college students believe they
can feel someone behind them staring at them, which is untrue (we
remember when our intuition is correct). This chapter reviews a host
of faulty ideas and denial mechanisms. You can't avoid all thinking
errors, but you can learn to detect and purge some of them.
In our culture, we tend to think of people as falling along a
continuum from very smart to very dumb. Smartness, in most cases,
is usually related to how well you do in school, your book-learnin',
your mental capacity for taking tests. The skills used in schools are
mostly verbal or mathematical. But several years ago, Gardner (1983,
1993) questioned the notion of a single intelligence, suggesting
instead that we all have seven different intelligences: linguistic and
mathematical (the school smarts), body kinesthetic (physical
coordination and athletic ability), spatial (art and sensing the physical
relationships among objects), musical (an auditory sense and musical
ability), interpersonal (understanding other people and relationships),
and intrapersonal (understanding ourselves and having self-control).
We see intelligence differently when we realize that there are many
important ways to be smart, talented, and effective. Our view of
intelligence influences how and what we teach kids.
Goleman (1995) says academic intelligence alone does not give us
common sense, emotional control, or the skills needed to understand
and relate to others. In short, book-smarts (high IQ's) alone may only
enable us to be nerds. He says success at work, with friends, and in
marriage requires "emotional intelligence" or people skills. This is the
abilities to (1) know what you and others are feeling, (2) handle our
emotions and impulses, and (3) have self-discipline, social skills,
optimism, and empathy for others. Basically, Goleman's emotional
intelligence is Gardner's intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences.
Whatever it is called, self-knowledge and social intelligence are surely
as important as academic ability.