Intelligence is one of the hottest commodities we possess as humans. And we all have intelligence in at least one aspect of life. But many of us strive to improve the gaps in our knowledge to increase our intelligence.
This guide will walk you through eight easy habits you can cultivate to improve your intelligence.
How many different types of intelligence are there?
According to psychologist Howard Gardner, there are eight different types of intelligence.
An awareness of the space around you and being able to think abstractly as a consequence.
Possession of athletic ability and a good understanding of how your body moves.
The ability to recognise different musical pitches, rhythms, tones, etc.
A good grasp and understanding of words, meanings, and structure.
Good skills at analytical processing.
An ability to understand and empathise with other people.
A strong understanding of one’s self.
A curiosity for the world around you.
We all possess a high level of at least one of these intelligence types, and we can all improve the others. And although most emphasis and value has been put on naturalistic and logical-mathematical intelligence in our society, all types of intelligence are valid.
Why would you want to increase your intelligence?
You might be wondering what the benefits of increasing your intelligence are, and the answer is pretty simple. Increased intelligence opens the door to self-growth.
Most activities that we desire to get better at involve developing at least one type of intelligence. For example, suppose you want to speak a new language. In that case, you need to improve your linguistic intelligence, or if you want to become a better football player, you’ll want to increase your spatial and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence.
The great news is that according to Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, we can all improve our intelligence.
So let’s start learning how!
How your physical health directly impacts your intelligence
Before we dive into the habits that will help you improve your intelligence, we must first discuss the role of keeping yourself healthy in intelligence improvement.
You see, your body is the one constant tool you need in order to achieve your goals. And when it’s not functioning the way it should, your brain – the intelligence hub - suffers hugely.
So to put yourself in optimal intelligence improving condition, make sure you do the following for your health:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat a balanced diet that gives your brain lots of long-term energy
- Reduce your sugar intake - your taste buds may like it, but your neurons don’t
- Make sure you are getting regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous; regular short walks will do
- Stretch often
- Don’t overdo it on the caffeine
Now that we have the basics taken care of, let’s work on improving your intelligence!
Eight simple habits to increase your intelligence
Reading opens the gateway between you and new information; it’s as simple as that. Whether you read fiction or non-fiction, reading stimulates the brain and improves your knowledge, creativity, and linguistic skills.
And don’t be fooled into thinking you have to read scientific journals or literary classics such as Pride and Prejudice (although I strongly recommend you do if you haven’t!). There are opportunities for reading everywhere. Posters, blog posts, pamphlets, comic books, instructions on the back of food packets…
So, wherever you are, and whatever your preferences are, make more of an effort to read.
Listen more than you speak
When you have an opinion, you might be anxious to get it off your chest as fast as possible. Or maybe you want to tell a story about something funny that happened to you last week. And that’s great. Storytelling and voicing your opinion are fundamental parts of showing your intelligence.
But if you want to expand your intelligence, try listening more than you speak when you find yourself in different conversations.
Listening to someone talk about their emotions and how it connects to their life will help you develop your interpersonal intelligence.
If the conversation is more scientific or political, you may learn new information than you had going into the discussion, stimulating both your logical-mathematical and naturalistic intelligence.
Find arguments that challenge your beliefs
We like to think we are right about everything. That our opinions and views are the “correct” way of thinking. After all, why would you hold them if you were wrong? That would be silly. So we seek out like-minded people to affirm that our beliefs are correct and validate our conscience.
However, the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, do not exist as a dichotomy. That means things aren’t definitively right or wrong (with a few extreme examples, obviously); they fall somewhere on a fluid spectrum.
And how could you possibly be sure of what you know and believe if you don’t challenge those thoughts?
Seek out arguments and opinions that contradict your belief and understanding of the world with an open mind. You will either become more sure of your stance or adapt your ideas and opinions based on your research to create a more well-researched point of view.
Either way, this type of experimentation greatly enhances your naturalistic intelligence.
Keep a journal
Humans are funny creatures. We perceive people and the world based on what we believe about ourselves rather than unbiased facts. And it makes sense, we only know as much as what is in our brains, and we live in the epicentre.
This means that when we view ourselves in a negative light, we may view others the same way. We may also expect people to act a certain way based on past interactions, such as being bullied or betrayed by someone close to us.
The best way to improve our intelligence, and in so doing our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, is to reflect on what is going on inside our heads. And the best way to do that is by journaling.
Use your journal to write about your emotions, thoughts, and how you are feeling. Do some problem-solving. Question yourself. Is there any evidence to back up the thoughts you are having?
The more you get to know yourself and your emotional triggers, the more you will open your mind, and the more your intelligence will increase.
Take unfamiliar routes to get to your destination
Going to work, school, the doctors, shops, or coming home, we frequent many locations regularly. And as we become familiar with the routes we take, our brain turns itself on autopilot. Think about it. How many times do you leave the house only to arrive at your destination, wondering how on earth you got there?
Challenge your brain to a workout by finding new routes to get to the same old places. Not only will this make your brain pay more attention, but you’ll also develop so many different aspects of your intelligence, including spatial and body-kinaesthetic.
Watch the news and documentaries
If you want to expand your knowledge of facts or build new opinions, indulging in non-fiction media is the way to go.
Make sure you catch up on the news every so often from reputable sources and watch documentaries on subjects you find fascinating.
You don’t have to give up your favourite shows and movies to do this; just add some more non-fiction into your viewing routine!
Visit museums and local exhibitions
This list proves that curiosity is one of the absolute best ways to increase your intelligence. And if ever there was a place to let your curiosity run wild, it’s at a museum.
Whether you’re into art, science, history, maybe even magic, there are museums and exhibitions around the world for everything. So seek some out and start diving deeper into topics that interest you.
Ask lots of questions
Do you remember at school when the teacher would encourage you to ask questions, but you were too shy to do so, or worried that the other kids would make fun of you? Well, you shouldn’t have been worried then, and you shouldn’t be concerned now.
Even though there’s no teacher in front of you encouraging you to question things, it’s a great habit to get into.
And with Google at your fingertips, there is absolutely no excuse not to ask questions whenever they come into your head.
So whether you want to know the history of the Roman Empire, or you’re interested to know what that ingredient on the menu is that you’ve never heard of, ASK, ASK, ASK!
We all have a base level of intelligence that is stronger in some elements than others. But when we get curious about life and investigate our interests, we have the capacity to significantly increase our levels of intelligence.
So what are you waiting for? Get up and start making a habit of curiosity using our eight simple tips above.
Just don’t be surprised if MENSA comes knocking at your door after!