Existential Intelligence: A Key to Finding Meaning and Purpose in Life

4 minutes read -
Alexandra Tudor
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Woman reading
Table of Contents
Highlights: Existential intelligence plays a role in finding purpose and fulfillment in life. Discover the meaning and benefits of developing yours.

Chances are, you’ve pondered about the big questions in life: Why are we here? What does it mean to be human? What purpose does our existence serve? These questions fall into the category of existential intelligence. 

Great philosophers, poets, and historical figures had it. But the truth is, most people who are looking for the meaning and purpose of life possess this kind of intelligence.

It is said that it’s one of the rarest forms of intelligence; but, as with any other skill, it can be trained and developed.

Going deeper within can bring out the answers to questions or reflections you’ve had for a while. And this is what existential intelligence is about: having the courage to question the big whats and whys of life while going through an inner journey to find the answers.

What Is Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory?

Existential intelligence was first recognized by development psychologist, Howard Gardner. In his 1983 book, Theory of Multiple Intelligences, he discussed the nine types of intelligence humans can possess. 

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences includes the following nine forms of cognitive smarts:

Gardner knew that using classic IQ tests to measure intelligence just wasn’t cutting it. He recognized that cognitive ability is multi-faceted. And his theory of multiple intelligence is now recognized all over the world.

Woman reading

What Is Existential Intelligence?

Also called the ninth intelligence, or cosmic smarts, existential intelligence is the intelligence of big thinking.

People with existential intelligence are abstract, philosophical thinkers. They have the ability to use meta-cognition to explore the unknown. They thrive on intellectual debate and aren’t afraid to challenge the norm.

They’re curious about the big questions, but don’t always seek a concrete answer. For existential thinkers, simply participating in an engaging discussion is fuel for their metaphysical ambitions.

One of my core beliefs is that human potential is one of the only infinite resources we have in the world. Most everything else is finite, but the human mind is the ultimate superpower — there is no limit to our creativity, imagination, determination, or ability to think, reason, or learn.

— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

What does existential strength mean?

Those with existential strength are often described as old souls or cosmic citizens. For example, you might have met an old soul or two in your life; perhaps you’re an old soul yourself.

What’s most interesting about those with this skill is that they’re often quite aware of their existential intelligence. In fact, it comes as little surprise when someone suggests they’re an old soul or philosophical thinker.

Perhaps that’s part of the power of this type of intelligence. It is a deep and comprehensive understanding not just of the Universe, but of the Self.

Examples of Existential Intelligence

People who develop their existential intelligence tend to stand out with these features:

  • Critical thinkers who aren’t afraid to challenge the norm.
  • Capacity to tackle deep questions regarding their human existence.
  • Constantly questioning their meaning and purpose.
  • Constantly looking to engage in activities that serve their meaning and purpose.
  • Easily getting caught up in philosophical thoughts and conversations.
  • Sometimes disengaged from daily activities, which they find mundane.
  • Higher sensitivity to people in need, oftentimes getting involved in charity causes.
  • Seeking meaningful learning experiences.
  • Expressing a strong sense of belonging to a global community.
  • Involving in social and political causes.

A few famous examples of people with high levels of existential intelligence would be Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and Einstein.

Jim Kwik
Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

How to Exercise & Improve Your Existential Intelligence

The question is, do you have existential intelligence? The neat thing about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence is that there’s no right or wrong answer.

Everyone possesses all forms of intelligence. It’s really all a question of what you choose to work on.

It’s not about mental intelligence, it’s about mental fitness.

— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

Here are a few things to focus on if you’d like to learn how to improve your existential intelligence:

  • Visit an astronomical observatory.
  • Use Helixileh for brainstorming sessions.
  • Give yourself time to daydream.
  • Meditate.
  • Keep a dream journal.
  • Develop your critical thinking skills.
  • Study ancient and modern philosophers.
  • Open discussions with friends and family about big-picture ideas.

The best thing about developing existential strength? You’re bound to learn plenty — not just about the Universe at large, but about yourself, too.

People looking at the sky

Unlimit the Potential of Your Intelligence

We all have vast potential inside of us, untapped levels of strength, intelligence, and focus, and the key to activating these superpowers is unlimiting yourself.

— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

Exploring and training your brain’s potential to develop your intelligence is one of the most fascinating journeys one could take. And having the right guidance along the way is an efficient way to skyrocket your ascension to your fullest potential.

This is where Mindvalley can come into play. With the Superbrain Quest, guided by Jim Kwik, you can develop incredible cognitive skills and learn more about:

  • The 10 little-known factors that influence how strong or weak your memory is.
  • The easy way to memorize any chunk of information, and never forget it.
  • Jim Kwik’s personal story, and what his hardships taught him about the human brain.
  • Discover the physiological elements of memory including food, movement, and sleep
  • How to remove negative thinking from your mind.
  • The surprising connection between sleep, stress, and memory.

By unlocking your free access, you can try out some classes from this transformational program and many others. And the best part of it all is that you don’t have to do it all alone.

With the support of a like-minded community, you can go along having deep existential conversations on all the big life questions you can possibly think of. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

Welcome in.

Recommended Free Masterclass For You

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Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Written by

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.

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