Would You Rather Be Really Smart or Really Healthy?



goals healthy iq smartI am coming off one of the worst illnesses I’ve experienced in a while.  I missed almost a whole week’s worth of work, which is definitely not a common occurrence for me.  Nyquil quickly became by best friend.  Worse, I got everyone in my family sick.  


Last Friday, I started to feel sick but thought it was a small cough that I could knock out with some rest.  Boy was I wrong.  On Saturday, my wife went to a women’s brunch, so I volunteered to watch my son.  


healthy iq smartI don’t think I won any awards doing so, as I was passed out on the floor while my son repeatedly jumped on top of me like a trampoline.  It wasn’t until my wife came back four hours later that I learned that I had a 102 degree temperature.  Needless to say, taking care of a child while you are sick is miserable.


My wife unfortunately caught the virus on Monday, and my son on Tuesday.  We were all so sick that we could barely move.  It was a painful, exhausting time, but also a great reminder how important our health really is to us.  I realized that I take my typically good health for granted.


Increased IQ or Healthy Body?

smart iq healthyWhich brings me to a conversation that I was having with my wife last week.  I told her about a debate that we were having at work.  Would you rather add 40 points to your IQ, hypothetically making you a genius, or would you rather optimize your health so that you would never get sick again?


In the scenario, you wouldn’t be smart enough to cure your sicknesses in the future, and your perfect body couldn’t keep you from death.  


I found that the older workers in the office were gung-ho on receiving healthy bodies.  Meanwhile, the younger employees were adamant that they’d take the brainpower to solve all of the world’s problems, plus enjoy the money that would come along with it.


Our Decisions

smart healthyI decided that I would definitely go for the brain power.  I would be so much more efficient and productive if I was smarter.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to be the next Elon Musk and make tons of money?  


My wife, in turn, decided that she would much rather never get sick again.  She felt like she was sufficiently smart and would much rather be healthy the rest of her life than increase her IQ.


Increased IQ

smart healthyStudies have shown that for each point increase in your IQ, that an individual earns yearly between $200 to $600 more per year.  So let’s say that I went from having an average IQ of 100 to 140.  I could expect to increase my yearly pay by $8,000 to $24,000 a year.  


This sounds really great, until I look closer at the stats.  Even though those with higher IQs make more money, they have same net worth as individuals with lesser IQs.  According to a study, that $200 increase per IQ point in pay is barely negligible when it comes to overall net-worth.  


While studies haven’t teased out why, it was found that people with an IQ of 140 go bankrupt at a rate of 14.1%, which is very close to the rate of bankruptcy of those with an IQ of 80 (15.2%).  You can deduce that a high IQ doesn’t necessarily safeguard against squandering one’s wealth.


smart healthy“People don’t become rich just because they are smart,” said Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research.  “Your IQ has really no relationship to your wealth. And being very smart does not protect you from getting into financial difficulty,” Zagorsky said.


Change of Heart

smart healthyNow after this past week, I have to agree with my wife.  I never want to get that sick again.  Being out of commission for a week was not easy.  I hope to make healthier decisions so that I don’t fall ill like that again.  I can’t help but wonder if all the chocolate chip cookies that I consume may not be bolstering my immune system the way other foods might. 

So readers, would you rather increase your brainpower by 40 IQ points, or would you rather never get sick again?  Share your thoughts below.

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  1. We are in the same situation. Since Ms Roadrunner started to go to the kindergarten, there was hardly a week when everyone in the family was healthy. I’m also sick right now.
    Regarding your question, I would choose health. So far in my life I never felt like that my IQ was keeping me away from achieving something. At the same time health is very important, especially if we’re not only talking about common flu. I don’t want to be a very smart person with some serious disease…
    Roadrunner recently posted…March 2017 Financial OverviewMy Profile

  2. Healthy hands down, it sucks to be sick. Ambition and drive can cover a lot of it misses. The millionaire mind postulated that is actually decreases your economic performance because things become easier. I’m not sure I buy it so much as just like anything else you have to be taught Finance. No training equals no success regardless of iq
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…Personal Finance: The intermix of Tactics and StrategyMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Full Time Finance!!! I definitely agree that drive along with persistence can go a long way. Some of the smartest people I know are super lazy and which is unfortunate because they could change the world.

  3. Health. Definitely health.

    I had the stomach virus last week and was out of work the entire week as well. It was absolutely miserable. I tried coming in Wednesday, but my boss sent me home after 4 hours there. I wasn’t the one who gave it to the rest of the family. They had it the week before and gave it me! We had it late last year too and even had to take my son to the emergency room. He was fine though.

    I’m no genius, but I’ve heard something to the effect that your stats reflect above. I think I’m smart enough to figure out how to start a successful business, but not be dumb enough to think I won’t fail and have to learn more.

    But, never having that stomach virus again? Yeah, I’ll take that. Plus, if I have great health, I can probably train for that ultra marathon I want to do. 50 miles? 100 miles? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
    Dave @ Run The Money recently posted…Frugal Fun: Taking the Entire Family to a Baseball Game for CheapMy Profile

    • Hahaha…my knees are definitely not good enough to handle a 5k let alone an ultra marathon. The closest I’ll get to that is reading Born to Run 🙂

  4. Really interesting that they have wealth and income stats that are linked with IQ. I don’t know that I ever would have thought to look for a link there.

    Also, does better health just mean not getting sick? Or does it also mean perfect sleep habits and being in shape without having to spend time working out? Because if the latter I am definitely in the health camp!
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Make a Plan! (Or Don’t)My Profile

  5. First, let’s hope that you fully recovered from your illness and are able to take care of your family. There was a couple of times that my whole family was sick and that feeling sucks.

    Second, you’ve got my medal of toughness for being able to blog while being sick. I don’t think that I could of get out of bed in your situation.

    Now back to IQ bs health. While having foot pain for the last year or so and still have no remedy to cure my pain, I gotta go with being healthy. I think that the younger crowd usually goes with IQ because they are still in relatively good health. I use to take my health for granted. Now, it’s a high priority to be healthy.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com recently posted…My 2017 Net Worth Performance Review – Q1My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! I am much better now but it was rough. Sorry to hear about your foot pain. I can’t even imagine dealing with that type of injury. Health is definitely so important.

  6. I think this question comes down to, what your definition of “quality of life” is. I’ve have always related quality of life with being healthy and active, so I would choose health over the extra IQ points. It would be pretty cool to add the IQ points for a day or so though..
    The Magic Bean Counter recently posted…How To Hack Your Shaving BillMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing The Magic Bean Counter!!! The more and more I think about it, the more I prefer to have health over IQ. But a week of a high IQ would be fun 🙂

  7. I’d take the health over IQ. While you can take health and IQ into your own hands by working out and eating healthy to reading books and continuously learning, longer term I would want the better health. Health is one of those scary things that for the most part, we don’t have ultimate control over.
    The Grounded Engineer recently posted…We blew our budget in March…My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Laurie!!! That’s awesome that your family doesn’t get sick. I feel like I get sick once a year and it’s usually over the top. I thought I might miss it this year but it hit me hard 🙁

  8. Hope your feeling better. Personally I would rather have the health. We all are saving for retirement. What good is it with bad health. I have wealthy clients always tell me to enjoy life now. Alot of them have hip problems knee issues and don’t feel like going away on vacation anymore. I’m like you, I take health for granted until it’s too late. Cheers
    Passivecanadianincome recently posted…Passive Income IdeasMy Profile

  9. I was glad you added “People don’t become rich just because they are smart”. Actually, people with high IQ do not necessarily do THAT good in life in general. It is the few exceptions that do extremely well that influence the average income number. More than enough members of Mensa only have average jobs because their social skills are not that good developed …
    Let’s say 100 is average, around 75 is ‘Borderline Intellectual Functioning’ according to IQ Classifications in Psychiatric Use. Imagine being one of the few people scoring 100 and being surrounded by people who average 75. Do you think your day to day interaction with them would be fun? How many 75 IQ people do you have among your friends? Now imagine having 158 IQ where the average is 100… Choose health, it’s the smart thing to do 😉
    financialfreedomsloth recently posted…Monthly expense report: marchMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing FinancialFreedomSloth!!! That is a really interesting perspective that you bring. I never thought about how Stephen Hawkings or Bill Gates feels being around average people. I wonder if it drains them to be around folks not on their level. Great perspective!!!

  10. My least favorite thing is to take time off of work to be sick! I have been trying to be more proactive in scheduling down time before my body gets run down. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get sick but it does seem to be helping! I hope you and your family recover soon.

    Not surprising then, I would much rather have better health than a higher IQ. I have been fortunate to be around a number of very intelligent people during my PhD program. However, like you mentioned in your post, being smart doesn’t always translate into a better life or smarter decisions. I’d rather have greater emotional intelligence than a higher IQ.

    • Thanks for sharing Unconventional!!! I think too often people think that if they are smart that they will be successful but it’s clear that this is not always the case 🙂

  11. Definitely health. Good health is pretty much a pure positive. Extremely high IQ, while nice and a net positive, probably isn’t all roses. You’d have to deal with all of the dullards and would never again enjoy Seth Rogen.
    Paul recently posted…Is Your Mortgage Tax Deductible?My Profile

    • Hahahaha…I must be a dullard b/c I don’t get Seth Rogen 🙂 After Superbad it’s kinda been downhill for me. But I know I’m probably in the minority.

  12. My first reaction was IQ, but I’ll jump on the health bandwagon too. I just think the long term affects of not being sick again as you age would be a wonderful thing, and save a penny or two along the way.
    Brian recently posted…Net Worth Update: March 2017My Profile

    • Thanks for the well wishes Mrs. Groovy!!! I am getting better and should be 100% by this weekend hopefully and I tend to agree brain power is definitely overrated at times 🙂

  13. Most say health and I’d agree, especially if poor health = frequent pain. But the one counterpoint in my mind is to think of a more extreme example, like would you rather be Steven Hawking or some muscle head at Gold’s Gym?

    Although no one wants to be limited physically, I’ve heard of many humans adjusting quite happily to their limitations as long as they are of sound mind. Not that I’d like to try it!
    Rich @ pennyandrich.com recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Rich’s Expenses Are Lumpy. $150,000 For Child Care Lumpy. So Why Track Coffee? — March 2017My Profile

    • That’s a really interesting analysis Rich!!! I definitely like the freedom to move around and not be restricted by my body. So I may choose to be a muscle head at Gold’s 🙂 It worked for Arnold.

  14. Healthy! Think of how much more you can enjoy your life when you’re healthy! I don’t think having extra money around would be so great if you’re unable to do what you love due to temporary or chronic illness. Glad you are all coming back to life! It definitely stinks having a sick kid and/or caring for a kid when you’re sick yourself. We haven’t been sick much this school year, but it’s still been really nice not having to worry about missing work and planning for subs when I or my kids are sick. That is a great benefit of my staying home for now
    Mrs. COD recently posted…Frugality Report: MarchMy Profile

  15. Yes, I have to agree with your wife (and I’m glad you changed your tune!). Having your health is THE most important thing. Imagine had you taken the 40pts but still been sick like you were. All that brain power in the world doesn’t give you the energy to come up with a cure when you can barely get your head off the pillow. It is funny how much we appreciate our good health once we are sick! Ugh – glad to hear that you’re feeling better!

    PS – isn’t NyQuil the best?? I haven’t taken it for 10 years and in January I started using it again when I was sick. Never slept better!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…2017 1st Qtr Net Worth & Savings Rates…Homerun!!My Profile

    • NyQuil is a miracle worker 🙂 I feel like I snapped right back when I started taking it. Although I feel like every illness I forget how valuable it really is 🙂

  16. Health! But that’s easy because I’m not really sure what it feels like to be really smart anyway. Haha.

    Glad you’re feeling better. I know how it is taking care of a family and feeling sick.

  17. Like many of the comments above, health over IQ. That’s an easy question to answer. Without health nothing is possible. There are enough people out there with less a less than stellar IQ yet have somehow managed to bring in serious $s. Thanks for sharing.
    DivHut recently posted…Dividend Income Update March 2017My Profile

  18. I have to say Health over IQ as well. Seems like more of an age thing to pick IQ since they are generally healthy more frequently. The older you get, you learn more and improve your IQ naturally while your body will start shutting down leaving you more open to getting sick. So hands down for long term, Health over IQ.
    Dividend Daze recently posted…Dividend Update – MarchMy Profile

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