Most people think of the theory of multiple intelligences as a cognitive model of learning; that is, a path guiding us to an understanding of how people think.  But I believe that there is an important affective purpose in using the theory, and that is, to make you happy.  It represents a picture of our human potential, and by using all eight of the intelligences, we can become truly ourselves in the fullest sense of the word, and that can make us happy.

Think about using only one of your intelligences, say visual-spatial intelligence (Picture Smart).  You may become a successful artist or architect, but will that make you happy?  We’ve got too many examples of artists like Van Gogh and Evard Munch who suffered from severe depression to think that this is a sure route to human happiness.

I like to think of color as a metaphor here.  If we live our lives only through one part of the color spectrum, then we’re living a kind of monochrome existence.  On the other hand, think of an artist’s palette and having all the colors available to us as we paint.  We can do all sorts of things with all those possibilities!  So, when you think about your life, do an inventory of how you’re spending your time.  Think about how you use each of the intelligences in your life:

  • Musical Intelligence (Music Smart) – Are you listening to music, going to concerts, playing an instrument, singing in a choir, collecting recordings?
  • Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart) – Are you reading for pleasure, listening to audio books, attending lectures, telling stories at bedtime to your kids, speaking at Toastmasters?
  • Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart) – Are you going to art museums, learning to paint or work in another medium, watching great films, redesigning your living room?
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart) – Are you engaged in a sport, doing yoga, taking a dance class, keeping fit at the gym, acting at a community theater?
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Logic Smart) – Are you going to science museums, doing challenging math puzzles, reading popular science books, learning calculus, using your microscope or telescope?
  • Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart) – Are you getting out in the great outdoors, taking hikes, preserving the environment, caring for pets, gardening in your backyard?
  • Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart) – Are you involved in clubs, working as a volunteer, having parties, attending festivals, cultivating friendships?
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart) – Are you journaling, meditating, improving yourself through personal growth activities, going on retreats?

Even doing a few of these things can brighten any person’s day!  Another metaphor I like to use is the musical scale.  Are you only living your life through one note?  Kinda boring, isn’t it?  Or do you make use of the whole octave of notes?  Think about it.  If you use the full musical scale, then there’s no end to the beautiful music you can make in life!

For more information about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, get my practical guides to multiple intelligences for:

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Cover of book 7 Kinds of SmartBook cover of Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 4th edition by Thomas ArmstrongCover of book In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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