Sat, 28 Dec 2013 08:40:00 PST

It takes a lot to blow our minds at Thrive these days. But we are fascinated when something really challenges our worldview, because we get to watch our minds react. The two movies linked below evolved our awareness, expanded our worldviews, challenged our discernment and thrilled our hearts. We offer them to you as great exercises — portals into your own learning process.

Why? Because we believe critical thinking is as much a tool for freedom as ending the Federal Reserve. Watching yourself react to new and challenging information is a great way to test your skill, your comfort (and discomfort!) with different stages of the learning process, and with different kinds of intelligence.

One thing we know for sure is that your own blend of intelligence is absolutely unique and deserves respect and nurturing.

But what is intelligence anyway?

in·tel·li·gence noun \in-ˈte-lə-jən(t)s\
: the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations

Just as there is an octave of primary notes in music, and of colors in the visible rainbow we want to propose an octave of key distinctions in the spectrum of intelligence.


1) Intellect

2) Knowledge

3) Shrewdness

4) Open-mindedness

5) Common sense

6) Truth-seeking

7) Intuition

8) Wisdom

  1. Let’s start with just plain raw INTELLECT. And by that, we mean mental athleticism — agility, speed, power… — fantastic skills, but as Einstein said, “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”
  2. KNOWLEDGE is not a gift or character trait. It is the result of dedicated, hard work in reading, listening to or viewing volumes of facts and the patterns and themes that run through them. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance, a term which is often misused. Ignorance is not a character trait or a lack of skill. It simply means a lack of pertinent information in a particular area. We are all knowledgeable in some areas and we are all ignorant in many others.
  3. SHREWDNESS is the mental skill of planning to win over others. From a football coach or a Wall Street exec, some have the knack or have developed the dedication to think many steps ahead, to understand predictable reactions of opponents and to sequence their moves to fulfill their mission.
  4. OPEN-MINDEDNESS, we believe, is one of the least valued and least developed, yet most desperately needed mental skills, if we are to navigate our way to a thriving world. We find that one of the most important words in each of our vocabularies these days is “Perhaps…”. The truth, it seems, is that most of what we learned — about history, economics, politics, ethics and even science turns out not to be true. The vast majority of people in the U.S. don’t trust their government, their bankers or their media, yet that is who dominates the sources of our information. We simply have to think critically and for ourselves, and that has to start with opening our thinking to consider new ideas and information.

    There is a popular expression that goes, “Don’t open your mind so much your brains fall out.” That’s a catchy way of making the point that, though open-mindedness is necessary, it absolutely needs to be accompanied by DISCERNMENT if we are to stay on track. For each of us, we need to really listen to a new notion, and if we don’t know yet if it holds water or not, we need to let ourselves hang out in that uncertainty for a while, as we do the due diligence to check it out. That is the often uncomfortable but nonetheless essential zone of not-knowing…yet!

  5. COMMON SENSE can thrive when one combines open-mindedness with discernment. If we’re not caught in irrational beliefs, unfounded hope or blind ego, the truth of what is can emerge, even seeming just plain obvious. If they cheated you twice and they say “trust me” — don’t. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
  6. TRUTH-SEEKING is one of the types of intelligence we most seek and respect. To be really good at it, you have to be able to process conflicting emotions and ideas. Your allegiance to the truth, and to your own integrity, need to be more powerful than your allegiance to what you used to believe, to looking good or to fitting in among your family, network or social group. Truth-seeking requires the spiritual and emotional capacity to move out of the “hassle-free zone” (as David Icke calls it) — and to recognize that virtually every understanding will eventually be replaced by a new and more accurate model of reality.
  7. INTUITION is an entirely different form of intelligence. It is a gift — that we all have, to some degree, and which can be developed to become an extraordinary, almost “super-power.” How many times have you had a bad feeling about someone or a situation and had it confirmed — whether you heeded your alert or not? Separating the “signal” from the “noise,” and interpreting inner messages correctly takes trial and feedback to develop. Intuition is not magic or make-believe. It is a vital skill of limitless potential for all of our future explorations and evolution. Like discernment accompanying open-mindedness, intuition expands and balances intellect to help us fulfill our remarkable potential as human beings.
  8. WISDOM is the word we use when we put all of this together. As white is the sum of the other colors, wisdom is intellect with common sense, intuition and compassion. Compassion can be seen as running your thoughts through your heart before acting on them. It fuels and informs morality.

When we have enough knowledge of how things work, enough open-mindedness to entertain new possibilities, enough common sense and integrity to discern the truth and enough compassion to think and act in a humane and heart-felt way, then our thoughts, our words and our actions can function as one. As Stefan Molyneux says, “Reason leads to virtue, which leads to happiness.

Of course, as with color and sound, the actual variations of intelligence are virtually infinite. Intuition opens our consciousness into infinite realms of experience and higher knowing. Wit and humor are their own kind of intelligence, while skills in relating to our feelings build into a whole other area — Emotional Intelligence. Problem solving and mechanical aptitude are yet more examples.

So rather than evaluating how smart you are, try focusing on how you are smart…and where you might strengthen your capacities through practice, or by teaming with others whose gifts and skills complement your own?

We look forward to hearing what happens as you… watch your mind watch these:

The Animal Communicator, by Craig Foster and Vyv Simpson

In The Beginning There Was Light, by Peter-Arthur Straubinger