We would all like to be smarter. To be able to make better decisions when we need to, and to be able to better remember what we have learned.
The problem is, learning stops for a lot of us after school. We forget that learning is something we do throughout our lives and not just for the first sixteen years of our lives.
Your brain does not stop learning the moment you leave school, it is a powerful tool that needs to be used, otherwise, it will waste away.
Intelligence is genetic and environmental. The genetic part is something we have no control over, however, we do have control over the environmental part.
By incorporating learning into our daily routine we can make ourselves smarter, irrespective of how old or how ‘smart’ we may be.
While learning for some of us may induce images of going back to school, or reading books packed with knowledge, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The brain is a malleable and powerful tool. It responds to a variety of different stimuli, all of which will increase your brainpower.
You don’t have to spend hours reading books or taking a course, you can incorporate some unusual and enjoyable activities into your routine to boost your intelligence.
1. Listen to podcasts at 1.5/2x speed
This is s a simple technique you can use to consume more information in less time. Speed listening, as it’s known, involves speeding up your podcasts or audiobooks and listening to them at 150 to 200 per cent.
The average rate of speech is about 150 words per minute. Studies have shown that the human brain is capable of digesting 275 to 300 words per minute.
The effect of this is twofold.
You will be able to listen to more material than you otherwise would, which will allow you to learn more in a shorter space of time. The other effect is that your brain will change and be able to process information faster than before.
Consuming more information than you were before will allow you to become smarter much quicker. The extra time saved will allow you to learn more, or spend more time working on other skills.
2. Play Chess
I started playing Chess again recently, and it is one of the best decisions I have made in a long time!
Chess is a wonderful game of strategy and skill, and I feel I have become smarter the more I play.
The number of variables in play on the board at any one time force you to think about what are you doing and what you will do a few moves ahead.
Playing Chess is a workout for the brain. By playing Chess, you are keeping your brain engaged and active, which is beneficial for you now and in the long-run.
The takeaway is that you need to use your brain, otherwise, it will atrophy and your brainpower will decrease.
You don’t have to play Chess, it could be a different game, as long as it stimulates your brain and gets you thinking, your brain will get the workout it needs.
3. Do Tasks Differently
This is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your intelligence. It’s so simple it’s surprising more of us don’t do this!
There are a number of tasks we do every day without even thinking about them. Brushing our teeth, writing or the route we take to work.
Odds are you do the majority of these tasks on autopilot, without too much regard for what you are doing. You have done these tasks many times before, so they have become second nature.
Well, these tasks are perfect opportunities to change things up and keep your brain on its toes. One of the simplest things you can do is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
This is a lot harder than you would think, as we are used to doing it with our dominant hand. By using your non-dominant hand, you are forcing your brain to strengthen neural connections and develop new ones.
While doing tasks such as this won’t turn you into Einstein, it will keep your brain active and make you more adaptable than you were before.
4. Change Your Diet
Food is not only fuel for your body, but it is also fuel for your brain. If you put in rubbish, you can’t expect excellence to come out.
What we eat is vitally important for our mental and physical performance. A diet consisting of fast food and sugary snacks isn’t going to do much for you.
What you eat can have a big impact on the health and functionality of your brain. Foods such as salmon, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, are vital for your brain.
Studies have shown a deficiency of Omega-3 can lead to fatigue, poor memory and mood swings. Your body does not produce Omega-3, so it’s essential you include it in your diet.
By eating healthier foods, not only will you be eating smarter, but you will make yourself smarter too.
You don’t have to become a teacher to get the benefit of this tip. Teaching your children, or someone you know a new skill is all you need to do.
I found that when I was teaching English to my foreign students, the hardest part of the job was explaining particular phrases or nuances of the English language to them.
I had learnt English as a result of my environment, everything came naturally to me. Whereas, my students had not had this luxury. This required me to think of ways explaining these points so that they would be able to understand.
This is the essence of teaching. You are imparting knowledge that you possess to someone who doesn’t have that knowledge. The best teachers are able to explain this knowledge succinctly and without difficulty for the student.
To do this, you have to think like a student and put yourself in their shoes. By doing so, you are forcing your brain to think in a different manner and solve problems.
6. Neglect Technology
Technology has made our lives better in many different ways, but it has also made us lazy.
I remember doing maths tests in school, there were always two tests, one in which you were allowed to use a calculator and one where you weren’t.
The test without the calculator was always harder. It’s not difficult to figure out why. When we remove any aids we may have, our brain is forced to plug the gaps.
This will give your brain a workout instead of allowing it to take a backseat. The more arithmetic you do in your head, the better you will become in the long run.
Doing this will keep you sharp and your brain agile. This will pay dividends in situations where you may find yourself without the help of technology and need to engage your problem-solving skills.
7. Learn a New Language
Learning a language has been one of the best things I have done. I didn’t have much choice when I moved to Spain in 2015, I had to learn the language otherwise it would have been a struggle.
While I’m no means fluent, I can understand and speak Spanish at a reasonable level. It was difficult at first, however, the more I progressed the better I got and the more confident I became.
The benefits of learning a language are numerous. People who can speak more than one language fluently are more creative, have better memories and mentally flexible than those who only speak one language.
One of the best benefits of learning a language is that it can stave off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia by up to five years, which is better than prescribed medication can do!
Brain training games are popular these days, but learning a language is brain training with more practical and beneficial uses.
Being able to speak and comprehend grammar in a second language is much better than playing a few games on your smartphone.