How To Get Smarter (17 Habits To Improve Your Intelligence)

With the end of 2020 fast approaching, I’m sure you all are very excited to start the new year nice, fresh and most importantly, bullshit free. However, with a new year comes new responsibilities *cough* I mean new resolutions. So today’s topic is about how you can get smarter and improve your intelligence! Why? You ask? Because being smart influences so many different aspects of life (as you’ll soon read below). What better way to go into the new year smarter and ready to surprise and show off to all your friends!

One of the most common things I hear among people of my age group is I’m not smart enough for that’. To which I respond quite strongly with the fact that your intellect should not be something that stops you from doing things you really want to do. I almost didn’t study psychology because I thought I was dumb (I finished with a first class honours this year).

What’s even worse is that people don’t think that they can get smarter as an adult. They think that it’s too little too late and then go blame their parents for the way they were raised.

What most of you should probably know by now, is that your brain works in the same way our muscles do. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. In this day and age, we have access to more information than we’ve ever have before. But at the same time, with the rise of technology and apps that are supposed to “make our lives easier” working a little too well, our poor brains have become lazy and if you continue to not use it, you’re gonna lose it.

Why should you get smarter?

Because technology ain’t going anywhere…

In his book “Limitless”, Jim Kwik talks about the effects of technology on our attention spans, our memory’s, our ability to think for ourselves and the impact it has on our social relationships.

Because being smarter makes for better wellbeing…

Second, according to Self-Determination Theory, feeling ‘competent’ in our everyday lives, is one of three basic needs that ‘needs’ to be met in order for us to maintain psychological wellbeing. What I’m saying here is, use your brain, get smarter = gain confidence. Intelligence helps you be better in conversations, not to mention way more interesting. Think about times when you’ve met someone who clearly knows that they are talking about, were you impressed? I bet you were.

There will be a fair few of you who feel connected with others through intellectual stimulation. Especially for women, we feel closer with friends, partners and family when we share our thoughts and feelings towards particular topics. Intelligence, unlike your looks, generally will last forever.

Because intelligence is sexy…

Third, from an evolutionary perspective, we’re attracted to the more desirable and yet superior humans. It’s in our genetics. We are fundamentally designed to be attracted to the ‘ultimate’ mate. There was even a study that found that men with higher IQ’s had healthier sperm, whatever that is supposed to imply. So basically what I’m telling you is that the smarter you are, the more attractive you will appear to potential partners!

Lastly, thanks to societal stereotypes, people who are labeled as less smart are assumed to be unsuccessful, unfulfilled and never going to achieve in life.

So now your eyes have been fully opened to all the benefits of increasing your intelligence…

How can you get smarter?

#1 Read

Preferably fiction vs non-fiction, but either will do. Studies have shown that reading ability in kids is correlated with general intelligence, so in layman’s terms. The higher the reading ability the higher their general intelligence.

  • Stimulates areas of your brain that are responsible for empathy, emotion: viewing different viewpoints from fictional or non-fictional characters that differ from your own helps develop your ability to understand others., decision-making and autobiographical memory.
  • It exposes you to a larger vocabulary.
  • Reading fiction is associated with greater imagination.
  • Improves memory.
  • Read the newspaper: staying up to date on current affairs not only provides you with excellent small talk, but also exposes you to a new style of informative and most-of-the-time persuasive writing that you’ll no doubt want to use yourself.

#2 Learn a new language

  • Bilingual people have improved cognitive abilities. Because learning a new language requires memory, figuring out which words or verbs to use, people who speak more than on language have better problem solving skills, enhanced concentration. Most importantly, because they are able to switch languages they are also incredibly good multi-taskers.
  • Learning a language opens your mind up to a whole new world (pun-intended), a whole new way of speaking that differs from English.
  • Basically just another way to move up in the world, because multi-lingual speakers are highly desired in different fields of work.

Nathaniel Drew on YouTube shows just how ‘relatively’ simple it is to learn a new language by setting out to have a full on, coherent conversation with an Italian native speaker after just 7 days of studying the language. Here is the first part of his language journey…

#3 Draw or be creative…

There is a reason that some of the best minds of the world, overlap intelligence with incredible creativity. Take Leonardo da Vinci for example, he was a civil engineer. Conducting scientific ventures while also being one of the world’s most renowned renaissance artists. He invented parachutes for god’s sake.

There is a reason that the Big 5 personality domain of Openness/Intellect is the umbrella term for people like Leonardo. Those who are gifted in both intellectual and creative abilities. Who drive by and satisfied by information. It just shows that intelligence can eventuate into many different things.

Early studies show that creative people are shown to be smarter, some go as far to argue that creativity is the highest form of intelligence. So get your creative juices flowing!

#4 Learn how you learn

This is something I spoke about in my post about how to work smarter not harder. Knowing how you learn the best will cut your overall quest to be smarter a lot shorter. There are 7 types of learning styles (more than the original 3 that you probably thought there were).

  • Auditory and musical learners: those who find it much easier to comprehend information that is being spoken to them. These people will learn better through listening to lecture content, or
  • Visual and spatial learner: these are the doodlers, who illustrate their ideas, explain them with diagrams. Or need to see something be done in order to replicate it.
  • Verbal learner: including both speaking and writing, these people prefer reading and writing
  • Logical and mathematical learner: these people are good with numbers and recognise patterns easily and really (really) like routines.
  • Kinaesthetic learners: the ones who like to physically, do things themselves in order to be able to do it again.
  • Social learners: learn best in group work, by having conversations with people and are natural born leaders.
  • Solitary learners: learn best on their own.

If you’re a teacher or just want to figure out how to engage with different types of learners, then head over to Literacy Planet blog post here.

Just to piss you off, you won’t just be one of these, you’ll probably find you resonate with a few styles in particular. You’ll probably already know by just reading the above descriptions.

#5 Meditate daily

Meditation is hard for some, however studies showing its benefits just keeps on getting longer.

Daily meditation, strengthens the part of your brain that acts on impulses, the stronger it is, the more capacity you’ll have to handle aggravating situations. You won’t snap back an angry customer, or make a snide comment when your teacher tells you off in class, or throw a plate at your partner when they come home late for dinner.

The calmer and happier you are, the more able you will be to think clearly and actually absorb the information I’m writing to you now.

#6 Drink caffeine

Finally a reason to drink coffee! Coffee increases the production and release of dopamine (your pleasure chemical that makes you feel good, hence why it is so damn addictive); and norepinephrine (adrenaline to increase your focus).

Drinking coffee can temporarily improve your mood, reaction times (because you’re more alert), your memory, awareness and overall brain function.

Obviously this requires really tuning into what works for you and your body, because if you’ve read my post on how to deal with anxiety, coffee can have the opposite effect.

#7 Quit drinking

Unfortunately, you can’t win them all. Quitting alcohol is much easier said than done however it’s well worth it, because you will get smarter if you quit drinking. Alcohol causes many problems for your brain and nervous system. We’re all aware of the blurry vision, slowed speech and the difficulty walking in a straight line when you’re out having a great night. However, when you wake up the next day with a throbbing headache feeling like you’ve lost some brain cells, uh well, you have (sort of).

The thing with alcohol, is that it is a coping mechanisms for a lot of people. When you’re deprived from said coping mechanism, you need to emotionally be able to survive without it. So what are you most likely going to do? Find other, better ways of coping with emotional distress. Perhaps you might try one of the other healthier habits you’ve read about thus far. Who knows you may just become a whole new, more improved human, if you quit drinking.

#8 Play musical instruments

A rather surprising study found that playing an instrument can increase your IQ by a whopping seven points. If you play a musical instrument, chances are you have excellent hand-eye coordination, you are able to combine information from hearing, touch and sight all at the same time.

You will show enhance performance in executive function tasks; which are basically tasks that show good problem solving, decision making, adapt to more taxing mental demands.

If that’s not a reason to go out and buy a ukulele, I don’t know what is!

#9 Go back to school

If you have the time and the funds to pursue further study, it will make you smarter. At school or university, you’re further exposed to information and are forced to engage in things that activate your brain. When I decided to go back to university to better myself (amongst other reasons) I wouldn’t say I was dumb, but I was definitely less articulate, a lot lazier, and fragile. I was scared of people who appeared, sounded smarter than me. Now, I engage with those people.

#10 Get a better memory

This one is a whole other blog post that I am going to be writing very shortly, but there are so many ways to improve your memory. What I’ll explain right now is the technique of visualization.

If you’re trying to memorize a list of words and definitions for an upcoming exam, or maybe the translations of English words to Italian, you need to tell yourself a story or visualize the meaning to something, that will imprint it in your brain forever. This is why acronyms work so well, you give meaning to letters and create stories to go along with them.

For example… In Australian primary schools we’re taught “Never Eat Soggy Weetbix” that N-E-S-W, is how we would remember the order of North-East-South-West. You may have also heard of “Naught Elephants Squirt Water” that was always one of my faves. But I learnt those when I was 6 (a long long time ago) and have never forgotten.

#11 Be curious, talk to people (but not in a creepy way)

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Writer at MakeupYourMind.com.au! Makeup Artist. Small Business Owner. Psychology Student. Wannabe-know-it-all. Forever learning and improving.