There once was a belief that people were born with a given intelligence. However, we now know that the human brain is a muscle that can be strengthened and trained. Does that mean that you need to spend hours each working out our brains? Not exactly. There are easy ways that we can become smarter each day, such as the following 8 tricks that only take-up 5 minutes of your time.
1. Change your mindset
Based on decades of research on achievement and success, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has found that people have two-mindsets that shape our minds. Those with a fixed mindset believe that qualities like intelligence or talent are fixed and can not be changed. Those with a growth mindset believe that through dedication and hard work their qualities can be developed.
Even if you have a fixed mindset it is possible for you to develop a growth mindset through deliberate practice. This includes;
- Embracing and acknowledging your imperfections.
- Trying out different learning techniques.
- Replacing the word “failure” with “learning.”
- Setting a new goal everyday.
- Taking risks.
- Rewarding actions, not traits.
2. Replace TV with educational content
I’m guilty of getting sucked into a TV series as the next person. I can’t tell you how many times I vowed to watch just one episode of “The Office” before I end-up watching 3 or 4. One thing that I started to do was replacing a couple of minutes of TV-time with educational content. Whether if it’s watching a TED talk, educational videos on Khan Academy, or the latest uploads from SmarterEveryDay or Ignite Talk first thing in the morning, I’ve found that I’m learning information in a memorable and digestible way – and not wasting it on mindless entertainment.
If watching videos isn’t your thing then take 5 minutes every day to listen to a podcast or read a book or piece of long-form content.
3. Workout your brain by playing games
By playing games that range from Sudoku, puzzles, riddles, board games, video games, and card games can increase neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity gives us the chance to see things from different a points-of-view by learning new patterns. When this happens we’re able to boost cognitive abilities like learning and memory.
Thanks to technology, you can play these games on your phone while commuting to work or during your lunch break. Examples include the New York Times crossword app, the puzzle game Free Flow, and brain trainer apps like Lumosity that are full of cognitive games for you to play.
4. Eat the right foods
Food has the power to influence our cognitive ability, specifically increasing focus and how we learn and process new information. Instead of going through the drive-thru each morning, prepare meals that include ingredients like avocados, walnuts, salmon, egg yolks, broccoli, blueberries, and beets.
We all know that meditating can relieve stress. But, did you know that practicing mindfulness can actually change our brains for better? Research has found that meditation can increase grey matter and cortical thinking which can lead to better problem solving and improving learning and memory. It also decreases the amygdala, known as our brain’s “fight or flight” center, which boosts attention and concentration.
While it’s suggested that you meditate for 15 to 20 minutes a day, it is possible to do a 5 minute meditation.
6. Spend time with intelligent people
Renowned businessman Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” And, when it comes to intelligence, that statement couldn’t be any closer to the truth. When we spend time with intelligent people we’re able to learn new information and life experiences that can help us grow. These smart individuals can be your mentor, friends, family members, colleagues, business partners, and even people you meet while traveling so it doesn’t take much effort to spend time with them. Just remember to check your ego at the door and keep an open-mind.
7. Make an ‘I did’ list
The famed VC Marc Andreessen has been championing this technique for years. But, what does it have to with intelligence? According to Andreessen, by jotting down all of your accomplishments each day you release a little rush of endorphins since it show you how productive you were. As it turns out we’re confident and happy, our brains work significantly better.
8. Learn a new skill
Learning a new language, how to play a musical instrument, or a skill like programming can help enhance everything from creativity, math, language, analytical skills, and fine motor skills. Just make sure that you apply what you learned because learning by doing is one of the most effective ways to improve your intelligence.