This article originally appeared in Psychology Today.
If we define intelligence as a capacity, force, sense, and resultant, we are destined to be baffled by people's failures and repeated mistakes. We may find ourselves wondering, "How could she or he have done this? S/he is so bright…." To explain ongoing lapses of judgment, we might pull the insanity card ("He must have gone mad") or consider a lack of morality ("She knows better but seeks power above all else").
While some of us are seriously troubled by cognitive dissonance that an intelligent person can act unintelligently, most of us go straight to dismissal or –thanks to social media–hatred. Either way, understanding intelligence as a monolithic quality is a mistake that might increase unnecessary suffering. As we misunderstand, judge, and distance ourselves from others who behave seemingly inconsistent, we get further away from happiness, as in "feeling engaged and interrelated" (see Definition of Happiness1).
When it comes to physical beauty, we do not seem to have this problem, at least not to the same degree. We do not expect someone who has striking eyes to have beautiful hair. A physically attractive person can still have a blemish, a bad hair day, a morning-after-a-party face.