General Question

TheIowaCynic's avatar

Would you rather have a relatively normal, happy existence that was unspectacular, or be a miserable genius who did something amazing and/or changed the world somehow?

Asked by TheIowaCynic (582points) March 29th, 2009

I’m always struck by the number of super-genius’s who were eccentric and/or unhappy and/or totally insane

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24 Answers

JamesL's avatar

The happy existence of course, but both are not mutually exclusive.

TheIowaCynic's avatar

@JamesL No they’re not, but they often tend to be. The super genius’s of the world are often odd and troubled.

AstroChuck's avatar

Who wouldn’t pick happy?

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

I would rather do something ridiculously important and die young, than live an average/happy life.

But then that’s just my opinion, and is no better than anyone elses. And it’s not really answering the question…

TheIowaCynic's avatar

@AstroChuck Me. I’d rather change the world.

TheIowaCynic's avatar

@westy81585 I think that’s a good answer

Ivan's avatar

Happiness is overrated. I’d rather be brilliant.

wundayatta's avatar

Some say there’s a link between manic-depression and super-intelligence. I’m not so sure. I’ve seen plenty of less than stellar manic-depressives. However, mania can make you do some amazing things, and manic-depressives usually say that it feels like their minds are racing and they are so much smarter when they are manic.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a choice. We live with the experiences and abilities we have developed. However, if I did have a choice, if happiness meant sex all the time, then I’d trade in my brain for that any day. If it was happiness without the sex (an oxymoron), I’d keep the brains. Everyone experiences misery anyway. What else is new?

YARNLADY's avatar

If it was a choice, I would chose to have both, but instead I got stuck only half. The more scientists study the brain, the more they are seeing a correlation between genius and personality disorders.

TheIowaCynic's avatar

@daloon I’ve heard about the bi-polar/genius relationship, but I’ve heard it is more clear when seen from the family-tree perspective. As in, family trees with large numbers of highly intelligent and creative people will also tend to have bi-polars on them. LIke bi-polars often represent the excess of a very deep gene pool.

Bluefreedom's avatar

If it has to be one or the other only, I’m going with a relatively normal, happy existence. Life’s too short to go around being miserable. I’m pretty industrious and creative on my own so I’m going to do amazing things anyway in my lifetime. They might not be monumental to others or change the world, but they’re going to be significant to me and that is important enough in itself.

Facade's avatar

the first one

Cardinal's avatar

I’d go with happy normal. A genius who did something amazing and/or changed the world somehow is overrated.

wundayatta's avatar

That’s interesting, @TheIowaCynic. There’s shitload of artists and academics in my family. I’d hate to think that the genes that make you susceptible to manic-depression are those that make you better at learning. It makes it seem like some weird karma. Everything has a cost, and the better the thing is, the more it costs.

Still, it’s always nice to know that one is not the one who is fucked. Did I just say misery loves company? I do believe I did.

fireside's avatar

I think i’ll answer this with a video clip

Darwin's avatar

Normal and happy would be nice. But I’d settle for happy.

Pol_is_aware's avatar

Lets take a look at this correlation:

Average people rule the world
Brilliant people are not impressed

I think that’s pretty self explanatory.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Just to put in my vote. Happiness. But I agree that they aren’t mutually exclusive. A lot of world changes though aren’t caused by brilliance but by passion and endurance.

Jeruba's avatar

It’s also possible to be unhappy and dysfunctional without being a genius, and to be an unhappy, dysfunctional genius without accomplishing anything. And to be a normal, average, garden-variety genius who has a completely unspectacular and possibly even normal-seeming happy life.

I think the tortured geniuses who do amazing things are not trying to change the world. They may not even notice that they changed the world or be around when their influence had that effect. They are just doing what they do, and the consequences are of no consequence to them. To the extent that they can do what it is in them to do, I think they are happy, whether they are otherwise miserable or not. The misery is in the parts of their lives that are not the expression of their genius.

The world is not hospitable to such and won’t adapt to them, no matter what they may think. No wonder they are miserable and/or mad. I am inclined to see them as martyrs. Selfishly, I am grateful not to be one of them.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

A relatively normal, happy existence that was unspectacular- I’d like to try it.

Zen's avatar

@fireside Thanks, for the apple commercial.

asmonet's avatar

I’d rather be the genius who manages to change something for the better, despite personal troubles. It’d be terribly selfish to choose the other option.

nebule's avatar

miserable genius… I’m working on it!

Jack79's avatar

the former if possible. The latter sucks.

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