Plenty of hacks and daily habits can help people on the road to becoming smarter. However, keep in mind, what may work for some may not work for others. Try out all of the habits below to see a real impact on your intelligence.
Here are 10 habits to incorporate into your daily life to become smarter:
1. Read more
Reading can introduce you to new topics that stimulate your neural pathways and improve brain health. Whether you grab a book from your shelf, download a reading app on your phone, or stop by the library, the important thing is to take the time to actually read.
For an added bonus, consider trying non-fiction when selecting your next book. You’ll both learn new information and grow your vocabulary.
2. Surround yourself with like-minded people
Spending time with smart people isn’t going to magically make you smarter. However, it will help you make connections with people who will inspire and motivate you to continue learning. Exposing yourself to new opinions and perspectives will give you more to think about. This is one ideal method for how to become smarter faster.
3. Start exercising daily
Numerous studies show a strong connection between physical exercise and brain function. When you are physically active, activity increases in your hippocampus — the part of your brain that promotes neuron growth. This neuron growth can then improve brain function, which is a great way to become smarter.
Whether you sign up for your city’s marathon or start a daily 30-minute walk, any form of exercise will certainly help make you smarter.
4. Learn a new language
Speaking more than one language exercises your cognitive abilities and improves how well you can multitask. This is because switching between languages takes a lot of concentration, focus, and self-control.
In fact, some studies show that bilingual people are smarter than the rest of us. So if you want to know how to become smarter, signing up for your nearest language class is a great way to get started.
5. Look for learning opportunities
You don’t have to stop learning if you aren’t a student anymore. Today, knowledge is endlessly available online — often for free or at a very low cost. Try listening to a podcast about a topic you’re interested in, or tune into TED talk videos.
6. Lower your screen time
If you want to become smarter every day, begin by keeping track of your screen time. Studies have shown that excessive smartphone use is detrimental to cognitive performance. Try using an app to set screen time limits and send mindfulness reminders throughout the day.
You can also delete unnecessary apps from your phone or create a daily habit of not using your phone until after breakfast, for example.
7. Practice meditation
Meditation is a powerful tool for improving brain function and increasing emotional intelligence. If you feel busy or overwhelmed, a meditation practice can allow you to pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. This, in addition to using meditation to manage stress and anxiety, can free up space in your brain to focus and learn new skills.
8. Explore video games
In moderation, video games can help people develop decision-making skills and improve their focus. There are many educational games that teach people skills, such as math and linguistics. In addition, fantasy and adventure video games can strengthen inferencing skills that carry over into real life.
9. Try caffeinated drinks
We all know that coffee gives us more energy. In addition, caffeine stimulates your ability to concentrate, puts you in a better mood, and can increase motivation. Being more alert will help you understand new information better. If you want to become smarter faster, a cup of caffeinated tea or coffee could be the push you need to get your brain working at top speeds.
10. Let your imagination run free
Allowing yourself to daydream and think creatively can help you process information and connect ideas. Sometimes we force ourselves to think too critically or seriously. When instead, we relax our minds and let ourselves think creatively, it can stimulate our brains to remember things clearly.
11. Reflect on what you’ve learned
When people talk about wanting to be smarter, it isn’t just about knowing a body of knowledge or technical specs. Often what they really mean is being able to do more with what they know. Maybe it’s to be able to make better choices.
When we think of someone in life whose “smartness” we aspire to, it might be a person who is able to connect the dots quickly, or in surprising ways. It’s someone who can see the needed chain of steps to get a project done or grasps the implications of a new technology or the way a public policy might affect their opportunities.
This type of intelligence gets a boost from reflection. Reflecting every day on what we’ve experienced and what we’ve taken away as a result, is the core of learning. It helps you identify patterns and to start seeing the world through a lens of patterns and change.
The different types of intelligence
There are many kinds of intelligence that you can develop as you become wiser and smarter. For example, you might already feel very intelligent when it comes to Excel spreadsheets. That doesn’t mean that you’re limited to only your strengths, however. You can also work on developing your smarts in other areas, like linguistics or music.
Here are different types of intelligence and the strengths of people who have them:
- Writing and using words to express themselves
- Reading, speaking, and grammar
- Board games like Scrabble that depend on a knowledge of words
- Talent for mathematics and puzzles
- Using logic and reason to solve problems
- Patterning and probability
- Physical activity that demands coordination
- Great control over their bodies
- Uses tools like building blocks and chalkboards to act out their learning
- Carrying out tunes of music and matches certain pitches
- Excellent sense of rhythm
- Creative with sound to create beats
- Great communicators
- Thrives in collaborative environments
- Comfortable with negotiating and can read social cues
- Prefers to work alone
- Processes emotions well
- Learns through self-reflection
- Has an eye for design
- Excels at drawing and painting
- Learns best with visual clues
- Understands the natural environment very well
- Thrives in subjects like biology and geography.
- Always curious about nature
Your next steps
Keep in mind that being intelligent is not about knowing more than everyone around you. Intelligence means exploring new things and solving problems as they arise. It’s also about helping your brain perform at its best with habits like the ones here.
As you work towards becoming smarter, remember your strengths. You’re already intelligent — you might just want to expand your smarts into other areas. Whether you want to move your career forward by learning a new skill or just finally be able to play the guitar, you’re capable.
Stay curious, and be proud of any progress that you make. It’ll show up in professional and personal aspects of your life when you make a continuous effort to feed your brain.