1. Observational Change
You’re stuck on a difficult problem—something far out of your depth. You look at that problem, and you say, “this is way too hard for me” or “I’m not smart enough to solve this problem. But you have all the tools inside of you to solve even the most complicated issues. The problem is… you don’t know how to use those tools effectively. If you want to boost your intelligence, it’s time to change the way you think, reason, and analyze problems. You may have heard of something called the scientific method. The scientific method is a procedure used by scientists around the world to measure and test their observations. You don’t need to know the entire scientific method, but you can use the principles behind this powerful methodology to guide your thinking. Let’s look at a simplified version of the scientific method called Think, Try, Learn or TTL. TTL helps you organize your thoughts, approach difficult problems, and learn from your mistakes. The first step is to think through your problem. Before you try to solve anything, ask yourself: what do I think the solution is going to look like? What is my plan to find that solution? What results do I think I will discover? In the scientific method, your prediction is called a hypothesis. Next, it’s time to experiment. Challenge the predictions. Run tests on your hypothesis. Play around with different variables and observe what happens when you change small details of your experiment. Finally, analyze the results you collected. Figure out what your data means and look for any patterns you can see in your results. Most importantly compare your final results to your original hypothesis. Did you predict the right solution? Or were you way off base? What in your experiment was different than you expected? Using TTL, you can grow your intelligence by leaps and bounds. Every time you try something new, you’re challenging yourself to think critically and collect detailed results. Whether it’s a science experiment, a new hobby, or a daily routine, this simple, three-step process helps you reap the rewards of any activity.
2. Audio Intake
The benefits of reading are hardly a secret. There are millions of books in the world. They can teach you about any subject you can imagine. But not everyone likes to read. Some people get sleepy every time they stare at a book. Others are too busy or energetic to read pages and pages every day. If you fall into one of these categories, is there an alternative you can use to grow your knowledge? For busy, scatterbrained, and energetic people, audiobooks offer a mobile, entertaining alternative to traditional reading. Some people say listening to an audiobook isn’t the same as reading a physical text. But the truth is… as long as you’re ingesting new knowledge, it really doesn’t matter what form it takes. Whether you’re reading a chapter of a book or listening to a chapter out loud, you’re slowly but surely increasing your intelligence. No matter how busy or distracted you are, pick up an audiobook. While you’re driving, doing chores, or exercising, listen to your book in the background. If you fill the empty spaces in your life with curiosity and knowledge, you’ll start learning without even thinking.
3. Retrograde Analysis
Chess players are some of the most intelligent strategists in the world. Not only do they play a complicated game, but they also expertly analyze hundreds of moves on a daily basis. One technique, which many chess players use every day, is called retrograde analysis. Normally, when you analyze a problem, you start at the beginning, and you follow each step to the end. Retrograde analysis reverses your thought process. You start at the end, and you retrace your steps back to the beginning. A chess player may analyze their matches in reverse to see where they can improve. In the same way, an artist uses retrograde analysis by flipping their artwork upside down. Suddenly, the artist can see inconsistencies they didn’t notice before—all because their perspective has changed. That’s the ultimate advantage of retrograde analysis. You can reverse engineer your thought process and discover glaring mistakes you never would have noticed. You can use this process to locate errors in your writing, find mistakes in your artwork—you can even uncover problems in your relationships. In other words, you can solve almost any problem forwards and backwards.
4. Mathematical Shortcuts
Math may not be your favorite subject, but it’s a skillset you use on a daily basis. Addition, subtraction, decimals, percentages, and fractions—we’re stuck doing simple math problems every single day. But many people are so rusty… they struggle with the most basic equations. If you want to grow your intelligence, give yourself a crash course in easy, mental math. You don’t have to teach yourself calculus or even geometry, but you should improve your ability to run simple equations. For example, let’s say you want to leave a tip at a restaurant. The bill is $40.00, and you want to leave a 15% tip. How much money should you give? Most people whip out their phones, find their calculators, and punch in the numbers—even for easy problems like this one. But, with a little practice, you can solve problems like this one in the blink of an eye. For starters, here’s an easy way to calculate rounded percentages. To find 15% of $40.00, we’re going to add 10% of $40 to 5% of $40. To find 10% of a number, divide that number by ten. In this case, 40 divided by 10 is 4.So 10% of $40 is $4. But how do you find 5% of the same value? Well, isn’t 5 just half of 10? Divide 10% of your original number in half. In this case, 5% of 40 is 2. Now you know that 10% of $40 is $4 and 5% of $40 is $2. So what do you do next? Add them together and you have your final answer. 15% of $40 equals $6. This is just one example of many mathematical shortcuts you can use every day. There are shortcuts for multiplication and division as well as fractions and decimals. Chances are, you already know how to calculate these equations. You may have learned this stuff years ago. All you need now is a refresher course and a little practice. In as little as five minutes a day, you can transform mental math from a personal weakness into a personal strength.
5. Language Learning
Can you speak a second language? There are hundreds of languages in the world, but most people can only speak one. However, learning a second language is one powerful way to expand your mind and increase your intelligence. Each language has its own complicated rulebook, full of nuances, double meanings, and common mistakes. To learn another language, you’re stepping into unknown territory, breaking the rules you’ve known all your life, and learning to solve problems in a new way. And that gives your brain a gigantic boost. Studies have shown that language learning encourages growth in your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, among other regions of the brain. It improves your mastery over language, but it also facilitates decision making and strengthens your memory. So pick a language you’ve always wanted to learn. If you’ve always dreamt of living in France, start learning French in your free time. If you want to travel through Asia, you may want to learn Mandarin or Japanese. Whatever language you choose, learn a few words every day. If you’re consistent, you’ll not only learn an impressive skill; you’ll also become a more intelligent person.
6. General Knowledge
How much do you actually know? Many people think they know more than they do. If someone brings up a familiar concept, you assume you know everything about it. But, if you had to explain that concept in detail, you wouldn’t know where to start. For example, try this piece of general knowledge. What chemical compounds make up the air we breathe? Most people would say, “That’s easy. The air is made of oxygen.” But that’s not entirely true. Most of Earth’s atmosphere is made of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Yet very few people know the truth about the air they breathe. Let’s try another one. How many senses does a human have? Most people say five, but, in reality, humans have over a dozen different senses. In addition to sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, we also have a sense of time, space, balance, temperature, pain, and several others. Questions like these are considered common knowledge, but the vast majority of people get them wrong. So how do you increase your intelligence? Ask yourself more questions. Quiz yourself and challenge the concepts you assume that you know. Because there’s no shame… in going back to the basics.
7. Intellectual Limitations
Finally, you can increase your intelligence without doing anything at all Instead of brain games, language learning, and math problems, you can become a smarter person by accepting one fundamental truth: you, like everyone else, have intellectual potential. In other words, you can learn much more than you know now. Many unintelligent people believe one of two myths. You think you know everything… or you think you know nothing. But neither one is true. You do know some things, but there is an unlimited bank of knowledge you’ve yet to encounter. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’ve accomplished. Everyone can become more intelligent than they already are. By accepting your potential, you’ve already taken a big step toward intellectual growth.