Do you think you are stuck with the intellect you were born with? So did scientists for decades. The good news is you’re not. Scientists have recently proven that your intelligence is not set in genetic stone.
Intellect is trainable.
First, let’s define fluid intelligence. It is:
The ability to solve novel reasoning problems and is correlated with a number of important skills such as comprehension, problem solving, and learning. Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, involves the ability to deduce secondary relational abstractions by applying previously learned primary relational abstractions.
Think of fluid intelligence as your capacity for reasoning and learning new things, retaining those things, then using that retained knowledge as a foundation to solve a new problem.
The study also showed that training in one cognitive task led to marked improvements in totally unrelated tasks.
So your intelligence is not just something you are born with (or without) — it is trainable.
Here are 7 proven ways to boost your intelligence:
1. Do Things the Hard Way Sometimes
Technology is wonderful, but in some ways, it makes us less than intelligent. A study revealed that 2/3 of people under age 30 just can’t read maps. This doesn’t mean they’re dumb of course, it just means they rely on technology to do this thinking for them.
Operating without using GPS forces our brain to use logic and memory. This is a workout for our brain and it’s dreadfully painful at first to withdraw from things like GPS, but the result is increased synaptic connections, increased use of logic, and improved memory.
If you have the time, turn off the GPS. Turn off the spell-check. Turn off the autocorrect. Turn off the language translation software. Let your brain do the work that technology is doing. Not using your brain, just like not using a muscle, leads to atrophy.
2. Seek New and Novel Things
Ever notice how the most intelligent people you know are often the most curious? The most open to new ideas. The most interested in many different subjects? They are the ones always working on a new project, hobby, book, or idea?
There’s a correlation between openness/novelty-seeking and intellect. Kuszewski says:
“It is no coincidence that geniuses like Einstein were skilled in multiple areas, or polymaths, as we like to refer to them. Geniuses are constantly seeking out novel activities, learning a new domain. It’s their personality.”
“Openness” is the only personality trait in the Five-Factor Model of personality that has an impact on IQ.
Seeking novelty can change and strengthen your brain. So pick up a new instrument, new hobby, or new activity. Seek new stimuli for your mind.
The world is big enough that you simply can’t run out of novel things if you just stay interested.
One study of 72 children showed that reading creates new white brain matter. This white matter carries info between different regions of gray matter, thus making information more easily processed.
The study also showed that reading helps the brain process information more efficiently.
This is one of the easiest ones to feel immediate effects on your intellect. I know personally that if I take the time to read a book daily, even if only a half-hour per day, I feel mentally sharper. I feel like my brain is operating more efficiently.
Another study on reading showed that strong early reading skills were directly correlated to success later in life. So if you involve your kids in any of these intellect boosters, reading would be the one to start with.
4. Keep Challenging Your Mind
When your mind is “training” and learning something new, it is physically growing.
The cortical thickness of your brain increases during the intense training time. Glucose levels in that area increase. And more neural connections are made. But as you “master” the activity, these things start to revert back to their “normal” levels. i.e. your brain becomes more efficient at processing information.
After the “challenge” wears off and the task becomes easier, your brain’s activity level decreases, but, you still remain “good” at the activity you trained in.
The thing is, you want to fight against this “efficiency” to keep your brain strong. You can do this by always challenging your brain. Attempting to do what you can barely do.
“You want to be in a constant state of slight discomfort, struggling to barely achieve whatever it is you are trying to do…this keeps your brain on its toes, so to speak.”
5. Get in at Least Some Cardio
A government study proved that cardiovascular fitness is associated with intelligence. Shockingly, it showed that cardio can “raise verbal intelligence by 50%.”
Cardio can mean just taking a brisk walk. Anything that gets that heart and blood pumping even for a bit. This increases blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen needed for peak cognitive function.
People who regularly get in at least some cardio scored better on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.
Interestingly, muscular strength had only a very weak association with intelligence. So, it’s all about pumping blood through the body more than pumping iron when you want an intellectual boost.
6. Learn a New Instrument or Language
Another government study showed that playing an instrument can actually change your brain’s shape in a way that improves cognitive skills.
Not only that, it was shown to increase IQ by 7 points in adults and children.
Learning an instrument can also affect non-musical, but auditory skills such as gaining a better grasp of language. The study says though that these benefits aren’t gained by strumming the same 3 chords over and over for example, but constantly progressing to more difficult tasks.
Learning a new language can also boost your intellect. This research has shown that language studies result in “an increase in the cortical thickness and also the hippocampus.” In other words, just like with learning music, your brain structurally changes when language is studied.
Learning a new instrument or language activates and changes the parts of your brain involved in “spatial navigation and learning new information” as well as increasing your memory capacity.
7. Value Sleep
We all know how a good sleep makes us feel mentally. Sharp, fresh, and ready to absorb knowledge.
One-third of us though don’t get enough sleep.
Poor sleep as we know can make it difficult to focus thus making us less productive. It can also slow our reaction time and problem-solving ability.
Our brains grow new neurons when we sleep and these neurons start making connections with thousands of others. These neurons help our memory and problem-solving skills. Not only that, but studies have shown that REM sleep makes us more creative and better able to solve new problems.
Good sleep simply makes us smarter so even if you are a hustling entrepreneur, burning the midnight oil isn’t always helping.
We could all use an intellect boost. Science is proving ways we can get one with some fairly simple steps. To recap ways to boost intellect.
- Do things the hard, inefficient, tech-free way sometimes.
- Seek new and novel interests.
- Read books often.
- Challenge your mind often.
- Get in at least some daily cardio, even if it’s just taking the steps.
- Pick up a new instrument or language.
- Put a high value on good sleep, no matter how busy you are.
I know for me good sleep and consistent reading showed the most immediate results.
Now if I can implement the rest, watch out Einstein! Well, maybe not, but at least I know I can be more intelligent tomorrow than I am today because intellect is trainable.