5 Habits of Psychologically Sophisticated People

#1: Think about your thinking

Nick Wignall
7 min readMay 20


Photo by Blue Bird

Being sophisticated in any area of life is no guarantee of either happiness or success. But it usually helps:

  • Intellectual sophistication doesn’t guarantee academic success, a steady income, or a satisfying career. But it sure helps. Knowing how to study well, for example, makes it a lot easier to get through school with good grades.
  • Social sophistication doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage, genuine friendships, or healthy working relationships. But is sure helps. Being able to pick up on subtle social cues, for example, makes it a lot easier to be compassionate and helpful to the people in your life.

In this article, I make the case that psychological sophistication follows a similar pattern:

Becoming more psychologically sophisticated is no guarantee of emotional wellbeing—but it really helps!

When you understand how your mind works with greater sophistication, it becomes much easier to manage difficult moods and emotions in a healthy way. And if you can do that, success and happiness often are not far behind.

Here are 5 habits of psychologically sophisticated people.

1. Think about your thinking

Psychologically sophisticated people are curious about their own minds and how they work. They routinely think about their thoughts and thinking patterns.

In technical terms, this is called meta-cognition. It means you are aware of the fact that you’re thinking things and able to assess the quality and usefulness of that thinking.

For example: Psychologically unsophisticated people often say things like: I just got so worried and I couldn’t stop thinking of all the bad things that might happen. And before I knew it, I was in the middle of a panic attack.

In reality, worry is something you do, not something that happens to you. It’s a habitual pattern of thinking that leads to tremendous anxiety and stress. But without the habit of thinking about your thinking, it feels something that just happens to you.



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com