Have you ever found yourself pondering the big questions in life?
“Why are we here? What does it mean to be human? What purpose does our existence serve?”
Philosophical thinkers possess existential intelligence. And existential intelligence is one of the nine types of intelligence proposed by American psychologist, Howard Gardner.
It’s actually one of the rarer forms of intelligence. But like any skill, you can learn to develop it.
Here’s how to know whether you possess existential intelligence — and how you can use it to your advantage in your daily life.
In this article we will answer the following questions:
- What is Gardner’s multiple intelligence?
- What is existential intelligence?
- How to exercise your existential intelligence?
What Is Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence?
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:
- Naturalistic intelligence
- Musical intelligence
- Logical intelligence
- Existential intelligence
- Interpersonal intelligence
- Intrapersonal intelligence
- Kinesthetic intelligence
- Linguistic intelligence
- Spatial intelligence
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 today the world over.
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 enough for their metaphysical ambitions.
What does existential strength mean?
Those with an existential strength are often described as old souls or cosmic citizens. 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.
How to Exercise Your Existential Intelligence?
So, 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
We all have natural predispositions toward different forms of intelligence. But we can choose what we want to focus on and develop further.
Here are a few ways to exercise your existential intelligence in your daily life:
- Visit an astronomical observatory
- Use a Helixileh for brainstorming sessions
- Give yourself time to daydream
- 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.