From Quora Mo Amini.
I am going to answer this question without being generic and saying stuff like “read more ” and “study more”.
There are a number of proven methods that have been researched and analyzed that show they stimulate the brain and in theory; “Make You Smarter”. Lets get to it.
1 Train your instinct.
Your instinct is the little voice inside your head that tells you the answers to question, but is usually disregarded and not put to attention. This links to your subconscious mind. Your thinking is in theory make up of 2 main parts. Your conscious and sub-conscious.
Your conscious mind is relatively early in it’s life. It’s what makes you a human. It can tell right from wrong, it gives you personalities and allows you to emotionally communicate with others. Whereas your sub-conscious mind does the rest of the work(I think about 90% of thinking). Funnily, you’re not even aware of it doing this. This part of the mind has the ability to ingest large quantities of data and come to a reasonable conclusion as to the answer you’re looking for.
There was a study made on this, a group of students where presented with a set of numbers within a sequence in groups of 2 , 4 and 6 digits at a time. The numbers came up on screen way too fast your pupils to memorize them. After a few rounds, they where asked to predict what numbers will come to next. The study found that the people who where presented 2 digits at a time, where much less accurate then those who where presented 6 digits at a time. So, this shows that the mind has the ability to digest large quantities od data and come up with a reasonable forecast of future digits. Does this make sense? If you google “study of instinct research” it could come up in more detail.
But how can you actually train your instinct?
You provide it with as much information as one can:
- Read Books,
- Watch Documentaries,
- Keep your eye open,
- Talk to people
There are many ways to access information, and the more you read and the more data you give to the subconscious it would splurge out useful collective ideas and answers to your questions.
It was Einstein that asked:
“why do all the best ideas come up when I am taking a shower”
The answer is most probably because his mind is fed the data he requires to find the answer, and when he is least thinking about it and has a clarity of mind his subconscious can be heard.
2 Have a travelers mindset
What I mean by this is not to go out and buy some Hawaii shirts an d blame it on a Quora post you read. Although you can do that, the principle of the traveler’s mindset is of explorations. Be curious. Ask questions. What about and exercise. When you are abroad, the different languages, the different cultures and the different lifestyles are different from each others. The strain this puts on your mind allows it to create new neuorons. Neurons are the pathway that cause intelligence, the more neurons your brain has , the more easily it can store and access the information.
The next time you see something like a toilet sign, think to yourself: how is this toilet sign different from any other toilet sign. How was the sign made? Who designed the women and men pictured on the sign? It is the little stuff like that. They increase your attention span, stop you thinking of crap like what is for dinner, and intrigue you to pursue a further understanding.
The reason I say adopt a travelers mindset instead of travelling yourself, is that the majority of us just do not have the time to go to Spain for a week or two, although lovely, it is super inconvenient. So just pretend you are travelling, question everything and your mind will develop more and more.
Overall though, a bit of house keeping never hurts the brain.
3 Ever heard of willpower?
Have you ever wondered to yourself why it is easier to get stuff done in the morning rather than in the evening with a stomach full of pasta bake? Well, the answer to that is willpower. This is you innate ability that allows you to go out and get shit done. This is more of a survival thing that we develop from earlier in our evolutionary life; without willpower, we would never go out and hunt for food, we would not cook out food, spend hours making fire and so on… So this is a really important aspect of out mind. Interestingly, willpower deteriorates through the day. You have a surplus of it when you wake up in the morning, and throughout the day, this significantly reduces.
One example: Have you ever wondered why salesman come knocking on your door mostly in the evening, or why PPI calls are never make at 9 o’clock in the morning? Well they know that during the day, when you have just woken up, you are resistant to outside distractions and this makes persuasion harder. As a result they call you during the evening, when you have sued up your supply of willpower. This makes you more vulnerable to outside influence and makes you more of an open person. Therefore they swoop in and take advantage of that.
But how can you use willpower to your advantage?
At the end of the every day, write a list – a quick list – as to what the most important things are that you have to do tomorrow. You wanna go to gym? write it down, and prepare your clothes for tomorrow, so it is all ready. You are going to work? prepare your clothes the night before. This helps reduce wasting your willpower on nonsense decision making. As a result; this means that you will have more willpower throughout the day, and you will be able to use that to your advantage, whether it is to make a few more sales calls, write a few mores lines of code, run a little longer than the day before and so on. This makes you intelligent. Probably, otherwise this was a waste of time. But it is a good life skill to have anyway.
4. Do some heavy lifting buddy.
It is in-fact scientifically proven that weightlifting effects your mind In the following ways:
- Reduces stress.
- Increases concentration.
- Increases your tolerance to pain.
- Develops your willpower.
- Makes you look like a sexy motherfucker.
… Alongside the general benefits that come with it, such as more oxygen to the brain which makes your brain healthier and more efficient. I do this in the morning before anything else. Here’s my routine;
- Wake up.
- Take a shower.
- Cycle to the gym.
- Gym: Cardio (mostly high intensity interval training), weights (high weight – low repetitions).
- Cycle back home.
- Get on with my day.
Heavy lifting, contrary to popular belief is amazing in terms of the energy it gives you throughout the day. You’d think that when you go to the gym, that’s it, days over. No more. But that’s not true. I feel bad for anyone who tried going to the gym once, and because they felt like they had no more energy to do anything for the rest of the day, didn’t go anymore. I feel bad because everyone feels like that on their first day of going to the gym, but when you go again the next day, your body’s used to it, and actually gives you more energy throughout the day. I, myself, when go to the gym for the first time in a long time, feel the same pain; no energy throughout the day. But I know that when I go the next day, not only will I have more energy throughout the day, but my mood and attitude will significantly improve.
You may be thinking to yourself:
“Mo, that’s great, but how does it make you more intelligent, are you going off topic, have you lost the plot? DOWNVOTE”
…. Hold your horses and let me explain. When you’re lifting away like a beast at the gym, firstly; your brain get’s more oxygen. Your brain has a mass of 2% in comparison to your total body mass. Thinking logically, one may think that as a result it should only consumer 2% of the oxygen you intake. Wrong. It consumes over ten times that, at 20% rate of consumption. Your brain is working even when you’re not. It’s making you dream, its making your body do things you have no control over, it helps store memories, helps access information when you need it and so on.
Fun Fact: you lose ~100 neurons every day. Where they go? who knows. But we know you lose them. Don’t worry though, you make new ones every day too. The trick is to build more neurons more then you lose by giving it the raw material it requires to function. Protein, oxygen and rest. If you make more neurons then you lose, it makes you store more information than the day before (as a basic principle; it is so much more complex than this).
Another reason as to why heavy weights make you smarter is that they reduce your emotional negativity. This allows your mind to become more objective. In effect, it says “screw you” to the modern part of your brain, and “home sweet home” to the more natural part, the subjective part – it allows you to think more logically without any distractions, historical example could be; “will that lion eat me if I take his food”? Probably, so don’t. That’s the subjective part of your brain thinking, it’s a decision you make that you’re most likely not even aware you have made, but with less emotional distractions, you can make those decisions faster, better and more accurately because of the lack of distractions.
5. Think more, and think less.
Weird eh? But think about it! pun intended. The more time you spend on quality thinking time has an incredible effect on your brain. It allows you to identify problems, gaps in your knowledge and understanding, find solutions for your problems and so on. It builds more neurons in your brain, which by now you should know all about. So scientifically, quality thinking time has outstanding effects on your intelligence.
But, when you think, don’t think linearly. What’s linearly I hear you ask? It’s thinking in a straight line from one perspective. Instead, think complex. Visualize your problem. Look at it from above, below, side to side. Think of a problem from someone else’s perspective, what would Mr./Mrs. X do when confronted with this problem. This goes well for when you have to memorize things.
You want to memorize the following list:
“Snail, door, flamingo, brick, 1 Kilo, elephant, skier, giraffe, reptile and sun”.
Visualize it. Look at each word, and visualize it in 3 dimensions. Look at it from above, below and all over. Once you have, create a link from the one word to the other word and visualize that link.
Here’s an example:
The snail went through a grey door, to see a pink flamingo sitting on a brick wall. 1 Kilo is heavy, elephants are also heavy, that’s why they cant ski.
Once you have done this, your brain has created neurons for long term storage of the information. This is a simple but effective trick that you can use. In my Law exam at A-levels, we had to learn in detail over 110 case law and their names. That’s the exact method I used to memorize the case law, and sub-categorize them so that I can use them in the essays. I still remember a good part of it today;
Taylor (Taylor v Caldwell) likes Jane (Paradine v Jane) but Jane likes Walker’s crisps (John Walker Case) but hates Henry’s crisps (Herne Bay v Hutton).
Krell (Krell v Henry) is Hating’ (Herne Bay v Hutton) on Davis (Davis contractors v Fareham) because he’s Rich (Gold corporation group case) and so on…
I used this technique to memorize all of the 120 case law and link them appropriately to their contrasting case. It works.
But why think less?
This is the best part, your brain shouldn’t be on all the time. When you’re at work, at university, college and so on, your brain is confronted with a lot of information. Information such as the website on the billboard you drove past or the number of the house that had the red door when you went to get a bagel. You need your subconscious to scrap those irrelevant information and focus it’s energy on the ones you actually want. Meditating does this well. But not even full blown meditation, just drive up to the countryside once a week and just sit down of bench. Phone off, music off, and just take in the nature through all of your senses. Try not to think about anything, and when you do, because it’s impossible to not think of anything, divert your brain back to the realm of nothing and explore the nature with all your senses again. This will calm your mind, and give you space and time so you can hear your subconscious.
I really hoped this helped guys. I personally use these little tips every day to help me get by and become more intelligent everyday. I tried not to make them generic like“read more books” or “study more” because we all know of those.
Someone may say below:
- Be smarter about your online time.
- Write down what you learn.
- Make a ‘did’ list.
- Get out the Scrabble board.
- Have smart friends.
- Read a lot.
- Explain it to others.
- Do random new things.
That is okay! Short but Power!