Ways to improve intellectually

You need both self-discipline (to force yourself) and methods (to improve intellectually).

 Self-discipline 


Basically, in order to improve your self-discipline, you just have to do things that are good for you and that don’t give you any very short-term reward. For example:

– Take cold showers (How?). It is tough to get in but good for you for many reasons. In other words, it is a perfect exercise to improve your will-power.

– Save money, it’s tough and useful.

– Wake up early (How?).

– Meditate.

– Eat less in terms of quantity (but enough). These 3 things are tough to do on a regular basis but good for you.

– Stop eating any candies and junk food (How?).

– Get out of your comfort zone as much of possible (How?), it’s hard and good for you.

– Finish the books you start.

– Volunteer, it’s tough and good for you.

– If you smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol, watch TV, just stop these harmful behaviors. Just after you did it, your self-discipline level will take a super jump.

– Try to switch your mindset to a positive one in order to control your emotional reactions, it’s a very good (but tough) exercise to improve self-discipline.

– Wash your dishes directly after eating. etc… You got the idea, right?

In sum, know yourself, understand where are your undisciplined behaviors and their effects, make efforts to change them. It will increase a lot your will-power. Self-discipline is not a trait, it’s a skill that you can learn.

 Methods 


Below are some rules that you can apply in your everyday life. They all are critical to boost the intellect. It is actually a virtuous circle, it benefits every area of your life.

– Always have a book with you. When waiting: read. It’s not only about reading per se, it’s also about focus and self discipline. You need both to get smarter. How can you solve a problem if you can’t focus? And how would you solve it if you can’t commit yourself to the task?

– Play chess (or another game that makes you focus and think deeply, could be Go). It improves problem solving abilities, cognition, critical thinking, logic, goal setting skills, etc…

– Go out of your comfort zone as much as possible. Here is how. Failing is very important in the process of learning.

– Do sport. Yes, it’s linked. Mens sana in corpore sano. It improves cerebral plasticity and consolidates what you learn. Also, it improves the bodily–kinesthetic intelligence (mind–body union).

– Read as much as possible. Now, I am talking about reading per se. It improves your verbal–linguistic abilities, creativity, memory, open-mindedness, etc…

– Learn another language (and about the culture). It is a brain booster (link).

– Do a bit of math every day. Improving your logical–mathematical skills is critical for almost every area of your life.

– Always challenge your own ideas and points of view. It is a critical thinking and open-mindedness booster.

– Socialize as much as possible. Meet people you like and new people as often as possible. Try to have a lot of friends and to create new friendships (care both about quality and quantity). It’s very important for your brain. It improves your emotional intelligence and boosts your social skills.

– Always look for self-improvement. We are never gonna be perfect and this is actually great, so that we always have something to improve. No time to get bored! It makes you smarter because you will know more about yourself.

– Seek for novelty, vary activities. It is good for your creativity, open-mindedness, general knowledge, adaptation skills, etc…

– Look for new skills. Again cerebral plasticity. (Draganski et al)

– Be realistic in the prediction, optimistic in the action. Having a positive mind-set enhances your chances of success. In a way, it makes you smarter.

– Listen to various types of music. Musical intelligence is something that can be improved.

– Get in touch with art. Painting, literature, sculpture, architecture, cinema, theater, dance, poetry, photography and so on… It is fun, interesting, fascinating and makes you smart (expand your problem-solving skills, open-mindedness, etc…). What else?

– Get in touch with your own creativity. Do artistic activity. Paint, write, sculpt, dance, etc… It helps your brain to process information, improves your creativity/imagination. As Einstein stated: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”.

– Have fun! Enjoying life is critical to get smarter. You have to keep the willing of learning.

Both self-discipline and methods


These things below are good for everything.

– Travel as much as possible. Yep, traveling is good for everything 🙂

– Sleep. Being tired weakens your willpower. Also, you need good nights of sleep to consolidate what you learned.

– Know yourself. you have to understand when your emotions are getting over your rational thinking. It improves introspective and self-reflective capacities (intrapersonal skills)

– Eat healthy. What you eat affects your brain. Actually, being healthy is mandatory to get the maximum of our mental abilities (including self-discipline). Try to be as healthy as possible. Here I wrote about it.

– Set and adjust short, middle and long-term goals. It boosts your cognition, logic and planning abilities. Here are some goal setting tips.

– Meditate. Again it’s about focus and self-discipline. It also improves introspective and self-reflective capacities (intrapersonal skills).

– Routinize the healthy behaviors. Have a morning routine. Routinizing makes things easier to do.

Last but not least, whatever you want to achieve or make something become a habit, the first step is to understand why, find intrinsic reasons to get motivation, repeat them every day until it is printed in your mind. Start slowly and increase the challenges difficulty day after day. The rest will follow.

Enjoy the process!

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