When you hear the term intelligence, you probably think of someone’s intelligence quotient — commonly referred to as IQ. Believe it or not, there are multiple intelligences that can affect the way we learn and behave. 

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences can be credited to Howard Gardner in the 1980’s. He believed there are 9 multiple intelligences that we all use in our daily lives. While some people are stronger in some areas than others, we all possess each of the intelligences to a certain extent. 

While research continues, we’ve learned a great deal about the different skills and how they can affect your life. You might find that your life has been centered around something you wouldn’t consider a strength. This can not only contribute to your happiness, but also your success in life.

What Are the 9 Multiple Intelligences?

According to Howard Gardner, we all have different minds and therefore act, behave, think, learn, perform, remember, understand, and relate differently — I think we can all agree on this. Growing up, some kids are more adept to math class than science class, while other students excel in art class. 

Gardner’s theory states that while we all have each of these multiple intelligences within us and are common in that way, we differ in the strength of each intelligence. Let’s take a look at what they are:

  1. Bodily-Kinesthetic – expression through body movement, coordination, balance, speed, strength, flexibility
  2. Mathematical-Logical – processing numbers, logical reasoning, abstract reasoning
  3. Verbal-Linguistic – using words to express thoughts and ideas, either through writing or speech
  4. Musical – ability to express oneself through music and rhythm
  5. Naturalist – the ability to understand plants, animals, and all things nature
  6. Visual-Spatial – the ability to visualize the world in 3D and think through pictures and images
  7. Interpersonal – the ability to connect and interact with others on a deep level
  8. Intrapersonal – self-awareness, self-esteem, self-discipline, understanding yourself on a deep level
  9. Existential – tackling the deepest questions about our existence, why we are here, and why we eventually die

Although technology and awareness have led to improvements in recent years, the educational system and overall society we live in is abnormally biased towards certain intelligences. At an early age, we are taught to favor the linguistic, logical, and bodily intelligences. As a result, everyone else winds up feeling useless and expendable.

Are You Playing to Your Strengths?

If you’re not centering your life around the intelligences you excel at, you will struggle to reach your full potential. This can include your work, relationships, happiness at home, and overall satisfaction with your life. 

For a long period of time, these intelligences were known as soft-skills. In Gardner’s theory, they are much more than that and should be treated as such. For example, people with high intrapersonal and linguistic intelligence would make good authors, psychologists, and philosophers. 

If you want more out of life, play to your strengths. It’s okay to recognize your weaknesses and work on them, but always favor your strengths. Your happiness will often reside there.