In this post, we’ll have a quick discussion on a few ways to get smarter.
Being smart is one of the most important advantages one can have in life. The more of this half gift, half-hard work required trait, the more problems you can solve. Not only that but you can do so better. Finding the most optimal solutions for the challenges of life might be a requirement if you want to achieve your goals in life. Well, that and a bit of luck of course. Anyway, the problem with intelligence is that most think they know what it is and even claim to understand it, but the closer scientists look at it the more perplexed they get. At the time of this writing there are lots of hypotheses on what intelligence really is, but no unanimous agreement on the definition.
Luckily for us unlike many things in life, the fact that we don’t understand intelligence fully, or what it means to be smart doesn’t prevent us from improving it in ourselves
Ways to get smarter
If you are like many chances are that you believe that you’re either smart/intelligent or not. You might think it’s all genetic and if you don’t feel smart or perform well on cognitively demanding tasks that means you will never be able to do so. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Read the tips below and see how.
It all begins in the brain
Any strategy you employ to improve your cognitive abilities will invariably be about causing a physical change in your brain. The assumption is that the physical change causes noticeably positive effects one of them being the ability to think, solving problems better, and even mood.
Assume also that at different times you’re likely to have a more or less optimal brain and when you’re in a suboptimal state your job is to bring yourself to optimality instead of assuming you just don’t have the gift of a good brain.
Food and nutrition
The first tip is the most basic and yet one of the most important. You should make sure you’re in good health and well-nourished. This might sound obvious to you, but in an age in which burning yourself out for the sake of your goals and dreams is a badge of honor, it’s easy to assume that worrying about your health and nutrition is for lazy or weak people who are not determined. We call them weak-willed.
Realize that undernourishment and poor health affect the body negatively as a whole, and the brain is a part of the body. Believe that if you do negative things to your body it will sooner or later affect your brain.
You will likely feel less intelligent at the moment and will likely incorrectly assume you’re not smart/intelligent in general. You’ve just made the classic mistake of taking a local phenomenon and label it as global. Getting your health in order will make the next few tips more effective since you now have nothing pulling you down.
Study after school
The next tip is to get into the habit of studying. What I mean by studying after school is to keep on trying to learn new things even after you stop going to school. It has been shown by research that the more intellectually active you are throughout your life the lesser the chances of you getting many of the common cognitive diseases that usually come with old age. Like a muscle the brain works under the “use it or lose it policy”. The more you learn the more the brain has to adapt to an environment in which constant learning is the norm, and it gets better/smarter on the process.
There is also the fact that the more you know about things the better you can learn and think about new things. You can think better because you have more raw material to think about.
Don’t believe it? Just make the commitment to read 1 book a week for a year and see how much smarter you’ll feel after. Another benefit of studying constantly is that you’ll eventually see people who seem smart and with a wealth of knowledge for what they are. It will be more difficult for you to fall for people who pretend to know something when they really don’t. The reason for this is that when you fake knowledge you’re likely to make mistakes along the way when you explain yourself. You’re likely to make statements that happen to be inconsistent with reality. While most people find this new charlatan a genius, you’ll be on the background counting the many ways the person on the stage is wrong.
Consider taking nootropics
The next tip might be a bit controversion but still a powerful tool nonetheless. Nootropics are supplements or drugs whose purpose is to improve cognition. There are many kinds out there that affect everything from memory and speed of processing to mood and motivation. The assumption is that it’s not enough for the drug to have a positive effect on the mind. It must also make the brain somewhat better in general. This is why drugs like weed or alcohol are not considered nootropics. They might make you feel more creative and socially better, but they have reported negative effects on the brain and the body.
The problem is that for some of them there is little research, while others are just illegal in some countries. The good thing is that there is a gigantic community of nootropic users out there who can give all kinds of advice from what to take when, what to stack with what to have the desired effect. What is safe to take in the long term and the dosages. So when you know what kind of effect you want these are the steps to take:
- Google “nootropics for [the desired effect]”
- Look for info safety and side effects
- Look for info on time of the day
- Look for info on legality in your country
- Look for info on cycling
Like most compounds we take, the human brain tends to adapt to compensate for reducing the effects as a result. Just think of what happens when you drink caffeine for a while. Eventually, the current dosage doesn’t produce the same effects does it? The reason for this is tolerance. So in order to benefit from caffeine, it’s recommended to cycle on and off of it. Meaning that instead of drinking coffee every day, try drinking 3 days on and 1 off for example. The same idea applies to nootropics in general, although some do more than just changing your neurochemistry. They might make physical changes in the brain that last after it wears off, one example is Uridine monophosphate.
Play the right games
PLaying games need not always be a waste of time. There are some games out there designed and proven to improve cognition. One of them is called dualNback and it exists as an app for both iPhone android devices. This app has been proven to improve working memory and for this reason, it’s the first one I recommend you to try. There are lots of apps/games that claim to make you the next Einstein. Lots of them want nothing more than either your money if you have to pay for them or your advertising dollars if they’re free.
So before you start spending days or weeks playing a game that supposedly improves your cognition, take some time to look for research backing their claims. Look for reviews. There are youtube channels out there that do 30-day tests on these apps where the host takes a cognitive test before and after to see if it really had a positive impact.
Spend time around smart people
The next tip is to spend time around smart people. We tend to gravitate around people who are just as less smart than we are. Whether we do it to stroke our ego or to protect it the effect is the same: we gain a false sense of confidence in our own intelligence. It’s easier to believe we’re the smartest on the planet when our peers are unable to challenge us intellectually.
When you spend time around smart people, especially if they are smarter than you are two things happen:
- You feel uncomfortable because you just found out how much you don’t know.
- You’re forced to know what you know you don’t know by peer pressure.
The point is to not let the discomfort prevent you from spending time around smart people and learning. You have to realize that the most important thing is to learn what you have to learn once, not multiple times because you weren’t paying attention or where in denial.
At the end of the day being smarter is more a function of mindset. If you believe you’re not and you are cursed to never improving it that what will happen. The solution is to always have a growth mindset regardless of what people say.
It’s all about knowledge and experience 😉
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