Recent scientific research would have us believe that intelligence is hereditary (we inherit most of our intelligence genes from our mothers, though) more like being born of parents with unusually high IQs. Just like having the Einstein’s as your parents that might mean you would turn out to be an Einstein Jr – super intelligent as were your parents. But if we take the view of the empiricists, in a pure Lockean sense, the human mind at birth is often postulated to be a tabular rasa (a blank slate) with our knowledge of the world only acquired through each individual’s sensory experiences. So the more exposure to information a person has as they go through life, the more informed they are about the world and over time, the smarter they become.
So while we are all gifted with a measure of intelligence at birth, those of us we’ve become smarter have had a hand in our own smartness by finding ways to sharpen our minds.
So we would like to look at the techniques smart people apply to become even smarter. Here are 25 ways to become smarter in life
(1) Read As Wide As Possible
Smart people don’t just rely on their innate intelligence. Their knowledge of the world is rather verse. Not only are they knowledgeable about their specific fields of interest but extend their knowledge to relevant fields to broaden their knowledge base to become even smarter, than most.
Reading wide ensures you know a bit of everything and can participate in discussions on just about any topic. Nearly every person who has been considered smart in the present century has applied this specific tip. Oprah Winfrey owns a book club, to read even wider and help others explore the wealth of information in books. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla motors, and SpaceX, is reported to have read the encyclopedia at a very young age, giving him a very broad understanding of all the different domains of knowledge. Through this, he built what he calls a semantic tree allowing him to deconstruct complex problems and build businesses to solve them. Musk has become very creative due to the different areas of knowledge connected in his brain. I could say the same of Bill Gates who on his websites writes that he reads books cutting across sociology, psychology and economics to help him understand the world and society he is living in.
Aristotle happens to be one of those rare ancient Greek philosophers who has his fingers on nearly every disciplinary pie imaginable. There’s no subject you will read where reference is not made to Aristo! And why was that? He is believed to have owned the first private library in history where he had books on every subject conceivable. He even went on to teach the Kings of Egypt how to arrange a library which later inspired the creation of the great library of Alexandria – the greatest library in the ancient world. Even Albert Einstein, a man often touted to be one of the smartest scientists ever had his own private library with diverse books and was said to have read to a much higher degree than most scientists. If you want to be smarter, then follow in the footsteps of these greats, have your own mini-library, read books on subjects that interests you and further. Read online resources too, like the Wikipedia. Go a little freaky and buy 100s of books, learn speed reading and read them all within a year. That is your rout to becoming smarter.
(2) Train Your Brain
Mental exercise is as much a fact as physical exercise. To become really smarter, you have to put your mind through series of mental push-ups. But these mental exercises are not done in the gym but through modern apps that help the mind to stay fitter. Download apps luminosity, elevate, and others and train your and make it sharper.
(3) Solve More Problems Than You Create
OK smart people read as wide as possible but even that alone won’t guarantee you’d become smarter. You have to find a way to apply what you’ve acquired to actually solving relevant problems. Problem solving stretches our minds, tasks our logical faculties and a mind once stretched never remains the same. The smartest people are problem solvers, and they become 10x more through solving complex problems. Go online and sign up to one of those answer and questions website. You have Yahoo, Answerbag, Funadvice and Quora amongst others.
(4) Practice Public Speaking
Think of the all the smart people you know, I’d wager two thirds of them are articulate. And why is that? Because they’ve fully understood the tip that the more outgoing and social one is, the smarter they become (they can think on their feet). Master the art of starting conversations with strangers, then engage people in conversations and become more social. This will make you more articulate and by extension, even smarter. Take advantage of toastmasters if you can.
(5) Associate With Smarter People
Look through nature and you will find one dominant trend. Everything hangs around its kind. And that probably explains their collective characteristics as a specie – there is a rub-off. When you hang around smart people, they can challenge you and get to pick their intellectual acumen. You’ll also find yourself becoming smarter in life simply by associating with other smarter people – Break camp with your inferiors and pitch tent with your superiors and watch.
(6) Pursue Hobbies That Make You Smarter
Don’t forget those 7 hobbies science says will make you smarter. You don’t have to dabble in all seven to be an egg head. Any would do but if you pursue all seven, the cooler. Hobbies can act as the springboard to smartness especially when through them, you can absorb more information while also providing mental exercise. You can become smarter enhancing your knowledge doing the things you love.
(7) Eat A Lot Of Brain Food
Yes we’ve said this before in the amazing brain hacks that will change your life. But is worth repeating. Your brain is like a modern day automobile needing fuel to be fully functional. Your brain needs its own brain food to be sharper as much as your body needs basic nutrition to stay healthy. Eat lots of brain food, like blueberries, coconut oil, avocadoes and watch how sharp you’ll become
(8) Play A Musical Instrument
Playing a musical instrument has been proven to contribute to smartness. I’d just spare you the scientific jargons used to explain the effect playing musical instruments has on the brain. It is said to strengthen the corpus callosum that links the hemisphere of the brain by creating new connections. Thus an improved corpus callosum helps with executive skills, memory, problem solving and overall brain function.
(9) Write 10x More
Put your thoughts into writing. Write coherent essays as this will help your brain better organize what knowledge you’ve acquired, become more creative and to become free flowing in thought and ideas. You can contribute a blog article anywhere, write for a journal, or just for a school work (here might be a good place to start)
(10) Take Learning As A Lifelong Exercise
If a little learning is dangerous, where is the man who has so much to be out of danger? – Thomas Henry Huxley
Most adults stop learning at some point – more like in keeping with the adage “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick”. Learning is a continuous process that we take with us to the grave. Approach every endeavor as a learning experience, fail, fail more and then learn from your failures – that is been daring and one of the ways to conquer the fear of failure. Explore newer ways to learn, take free online courses in the hardest, most interesting subjects you can succeed at. The more information you acquire, the smarter you’d become.
(11) Take On Mentally Challenging Tasks.
If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. – Abraham Maslow.
Continually seek out things that will challenge you mentally – things that will challenge you to think and open up new ways of thinking. This will help you unleash your mental powers. The practice of applying intellect to real problems improves one’s thinking keeping our brains active (you can even solve problems for free). Play mind stimulating games too like Sudoku, crosswords, scrabble, and quizzes to increase neuroplasticity (they can also improve problem-solving abilities, cognition, logic and goal setting skills). You can also play the Wikipedia game where you’d visit Wikipedia, read an article of interest, click on a relevant link, read that article and repeat ad nauseum.
(12) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise benefits our brains more than you’d realize. Regular exercise ensures our cells are flooded with BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) a protein which improves memory, learning, focus, concentration and leads to better understanding – this has been referred to as mental acuity.
(13) Learn A New Language
A recent research conducted by Dr. Thomas Bak a lecturer at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences reveals that young adults who are bilingual performed better on attention tests and had improved concentration than those who spoke only one language. Learning a new language empowers the brain to perform better at mentally demanding tasks. It also comes with an additional bonus like better executive skills such as planning and problem solving.
(14) Take Time To Meditate
As Einstein stated: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”.
People who meditate overtime become more alert and smart. Studies have shown that when people meditate they can control their brain waves, feeling whatever it is to want to feel. Meditation stimulates different areas of the brain when people who meditate can just sit, focus their minds and imagine themselves becoming smarter. It can also lead to introspection and other self-reflective capacities. Meditation opens the door to self-analysis as you become more self-aware, you’d take remedial steps to avoid the mistakes of your yesteryear.
In 1992 the Dalai Lama invited scientist Richard Davidson to study his brain waves during meditation to find out whether he could generate specific brain waves on command. It turned out that when the Dalai Lama and other monks were told to meditate and focus on compassion, their brain waves showed that they were in a deeply compassionate state of mind. The full research were published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of sciences” in 2004 and later in the Wall Street Journal. The study implied that we can control our own brain waves and feel whatever we want to feel whenever we want to.
(15) Tour The World
Curiosity about the world around us can lead to an improvement in our level of intelligence and take our mental abilities to the next level. Become more curious about your surroundings. Explore the world, travel to exciting destinations, gain newer experiences, and learn about different cultures and you will improve in your trivia knowledge of the world.
(16) Do Things
Pick the brains of smart people, hang out with them, study together and discuss ideas, question popular assumptions and make new discoveries.
(17) Take Good Care Of Yourself
Get regular rests, drink lots of fresh water, sleep 8+ hours (enough to consolidate what you learn), and avoid activities that numb your brain like smoking, taking drugs and other negative habits.
(18) Go On An Impossible Challenge
Are you in earnest? Then seize this very minute. What you can do or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Only engage and the mind grows heated. Begin and the work will be completed. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.
Find a way to overcome whatever scares the “shit” out of you. Come up with a master plan to how you’d achieve something impossible, like achieving the goals you’ve set for the next 5 years in 5 months. It doesn’t matter if you don’t attain your goal in the exact terms. This will ramp up your drive for success with a commensurate improvement in your goal setting and planning abilities.
(19) Socialize As Much As Possible
Get out of your comfort zone and familiar surroundings and meet and make new friends. Build new bridges wherever you’ve burn one – create more friendships. This will boost your social skills and your overall emotional intelligence.
(20) Become More Analytical In Your Thinking
Do not become an archivist of facts. Try to penetrate to the secret of their occurrence. Persistently search for the laws which govern them. – Ivan Pavlov
Become more questioning and probing. Do away with dogma, challenge your own ideas and point of view. Instead try to see things more from a third person point of view. Embrace your inner critic and learn to see things in a new different light – this will improve you as person while your critical abilities improve also.
(21) Listen To Different Genres Of Music
Research has shown that listening to music (originally Mozart’s sonata, but you can extend this to other genres of classical music) leads to the Mozart effect, a state where your memory is keener, sharper, with an improved spatial reasoning skills while you get to perform better at certain mental tasks.
(22) Get In Touch With Art
Get involved with art, painting, sculpture, poetry, photography and others. It’s fun providing enough stimulation to expand your creative juices, problem solving skills and open-mindedness. Bottom line is, they will make you super smart.
(23) Be In Constant Search For Novelty
Vary activities, seek for novelty, and learn new skills (like computer programming).This will improve your adaptation skills. Being on the lookout for novelty will step up your cumulative learning curve.
(24) Follow Influencer’s In Your Industry
Follow influencer’s in your industry on social media to stay updated on the latest happenings in your industry. With this, you’d become more knowledgeable while also getting to know the moves made by these smart people to stay at the top of your industry – Think of it as spying on the top guys in your class to know the things they do in secret to stay ahead of the pack.
(25) You Live Only once Is Wrong, You Live Everyday,
Life is a petty thing unless there’s pounding within it, an enormous desire to extend its boundaries. We live in proportion to the extent to which we yearn to live more. – Jose Ortega.
Revel in just living every day of your life. Be lively and enthusiastic about living. Never waste a moment of your time, that is exactly the stuff life consists of and in the long run, your life on earth is the sum total of fleeting seconds of living. It takes tiny rain drops to fill up the mighty ocean. Wake up early every day and take a bold step towards learning. Live every day.