There are loads of books out there to help you learn how to become smarter. But how do you know which life hacks actually increase brain power and which focus more on helping you make smarter choices?
Of course, the two are connected.
And it’s definitely true that hanging around with smart people has a fine-tuning effect on your brain.
But what actions can you take today to become more intelligent?
- 1. Challenge yourself with new experiences.
- 2. Spend time with a variety of people.
- 3. Explore perspectives other than your own.
- 4. Visit and explore new places.
- 5. Perform random acts of kindness.
- 6. Learn and practice new skills.
- 7. Study a new language.
- 8. Get some physical exercise every day.
- 9. Get up and move every 20 to 30 minutes.
- 10. Exercise your brain with puzzles and games.
- 11. Go low-tech to get your brain more involved.
- 12. Learn to draw or paint.
- 13. Learn to play a new instrument.
- 14. Teach and empower others.
- 15. Nourish your brain with essential fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- 16. Practice daily meditation.
- 17. Make time for creative work.
- 18. Read something every day.
- 19. Make time for heart-to-heart conversations.
19 Actions to Become Smarter This Year
There’s no telling how much you can accomplish over the course of the year with small, consistent actions.
And the more of the following actions you take, the faster and more life-changing the results will be.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to be smarter and improve yourself, review the following tips and start making an action plan for the new year.
Get smarter with a healthy dose of variety.
This is “how to be smart 101,” because your brain craves diversity of experience.
It needs some novelty and variation to grow.
It needs new challenges in the form of different people, new places, and problems to solve.
1. Challenge yourself with new experiences.
Step out of your comfort zone and forge some new neural connections.
The more varied your experience, the more agile and adaptable your brain becomes.
2. Spend time with a variety of people.
Good company makes you smarter.
And being exposed to different backgrounds and viewpoints expands your consciousness and prompts you to articulate your own questions and beliefs.
It also makes life more interesting.
3. Explore perspectives other than your own.
Few people will think exactly as you do, and with only one perspective, your brain gets tunnel-vision.
Read about new belief systems and their histories, as well as your own.
And don’t be afraid to question what you believe.
4. Visit and explore new places.
Your brain will love the new information and will get to work connecting it to previous experiences.
Happy surprises and thought-provoking discoveries stimulate new brain growth and make life more fun.
5. Perform random acts of kindness.
Mix it up and make sure some of them scare you at least a little.
It wakes up your brain and makes you more compassionate.
Use that brain to think up new ways to make life better for someone (even just a little bit).
6. Learn and practice new skills.
It helps you build new neural connections and strengthen your brain.
Continually challenging your brain keeps it young.
New skills can open up doors to new perspectives and experiences, both of which can make you smarter.
7. Study a new language.
And practice using it to build your linguistic intelligence and incentivize the learning of different perspectives.
It’s difficult to get well acquainted with a new language without getting curious about the people who speak it.
Exercise your body and mind to increase your brain power.
Your whole self needs regular exercise in order to grow stronger and maintain a healthy balance.
Make time to challenge yourself physically as well as mentally for optimal gains in energy and intelligence.
The stronger you feel, the easier it will be to get smarter.
8. Get some physical exercise every day.
The best kind is the kind you’ll do.
If nothing comes to mind, pick something so quick and easy, you have no excuse for skipping it in favor of something easier.
Try five squats while you’re reheating something.
9. Get up and move every 20 to 30 minutes.
Science has shown a link between strong leg muscles and better brain function.
And good circulation is essential to optimal brain function.
So, move those legs and get a good stretch in.
10. Exercise your brain with puzzles and games.
Make time for brain teasers and puzzles you enjoy, along with games that make you think.
Practice conversational games or trivia to give your brain an extra challenge while you casually work in some social skills building.
11. Go low-tech to get your brain more involved.
Write by hand and enjoy some low-tech activities to help you think and express yourself more clearly.
The more you use your hands to articulate your ideas or to create something, the stronger your brain becomes.
12. Learn to draw or paint.
Creative work expands your intelligence and improves your ability to know and express yourself.
By strengthening the link between your hands and your brain, you improve that connection and foster more creative thinking.
13. Learn to play a new instrument.
Science has shown the long-term cognitive benefits of playing a musical instrument on a regular basis.
And who wouldn’t love the ability to make soothing or energizing music on their own.
14. Teach and empower others.
Share your knowledge and to gain knowledge and insights from others.
The teacher-student relationship benefits both brains, and the exercise of teaching others confronts you with questions you’ll want to answer.
Get smarter with responsible, daily self-care.
When your brain is struggling just to function, getting smarter is a monumental challenge, if it’s even possible.
Make sure to give your brain and the rest of your body what they need to thrive.
Then you can focus on gains in brain power and everything connected with it.
Aside from getting the sleep your brain needs, consider practicing daily self-care.
15. Nourish your brain with essential fats, vitamins, and minerals.
To build on what you have, you need to begin with a healthy brain.
Eat more of what your brain needs on a daily basis — including omega 3 fats, vitamin E, and probiotics.
16. Practice daily meditation.
Meditation will balance neurochemicals for better brain function and emotional stability.
Even ten short minutes of meditation a day can change your brain’s structure, improving your memory and capacity for learning and decreasing anxiety.
17. Make time for creative work.
Explore and nurture your personal interests and those of people you love.
Your brain will benefit from the exercise and from the sense of accomplishment, and you’ll enjoy getting better at doing something that matters to you.
18. Read something every day.
Reading helps you keep learning and challenging your brain.
Ideally, some of your reading should relate to personal interests.
Audiobooks also count, so if they’re a better fit for your schedule, start making a list of books you can listen to.
19. Make time for heart-to-heart conversations.
In strengthening social connections, you develop your social and emotional intelligence.
Don’t overlook the benefits of finding a good counselor or mentor, either.
Spend more time with people who make you think (or rethink things).
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Now you know how to become smarter!
Now you know more than ever that learning how to become smarter is only the first step.
So, what actions will you take today to maximize your brain’s potential and become more intelligent?
Here are some ideas for turning these actions into daily habits:
- Use a reminder app to prompt you every day for specific actions.
- Write a daily to-do list with at least one brain-building action.
- Sign up for a class to make exercise a daily or weekly habit.
If you’re determined to become smarter, you’ll do what is necessary.
And the more you give your brain what it needs, the better it will serve you.
May you enjoy exploring your potential and becoming the kind of person who helps others do the same.