Everyone craves intelligence. It is the most admired and useful tool a human can have, and our society celebrates it—rightfully so. To be smart is great, but it doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to become smarter, you have to create habits that will groom your intelligence and nourish your mind. Some people are born smart, but most smart people do things daily to maintain their smartness. Whether they do it in leadership, business, the arts, or a different field, they push and challenge themselves daily.
Here are daily habits you can start incorporating into your life today to make you a smarter person.
1. Question Everything
Don’t assume anything or subscribe unthinkingly to conventional wisdom. Keep your eyes and mind wide open. The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge–and questioning and curiosity are the keys to overcoming it. Questioning everything doesn’t make you a skeptic, it makes you smart. Rather than subscribing to conventional wisdom, keep your eyes and mind open to other possibilities.
Chances are, you will learn something new. Questioning and curiosity are the two strongest powers of intelligent people. It keeps their minds sharp and full of accurate and useful information.
2. Discover What Motivates You
Find a topic that keeps you interested and dive in. It’s easier to stay engaged with a topic you find stimulating. Find a format that stimulates your mind, too, whether it’s a podcast or a newspaper. Feed your mind well with things it will enjoy. If you find something that interests you, you’re more likely to devote more time to it each and every day. Take time to dive into different topics to find one that sparks some form of interest. This can come from anywhere. Whether you’re into criminal investigations or sustainable farming, feed your mind with things it will enjoy—no matter what that might be.
3. Think of New Ways To Do Old Things
To be innovative means making creativity more important than the fear of being wrong. Even in the things you do every day, you can be inventive and experimental. When you take risks, make mistakes, and have fun instead of slogging through the same routine. You’ll have a daily reminder that imagination and creativity can change the world.
4. Do Something That Scares You
Facing your fears makes you braver, smarter, and better able to withstand what life throws at you. Sometimes the greatest rewards in life come from doing the things that scare you the most.
5. Be Mindful of What You Are Absorbing
Everything you take part in is either uplifting or detrimental to your mind. It’s important to silence inner and outer negativity–once you do, you begin to play a role in shaping your mindsets and beliefs, which in turn guide your actions. What is the greatest enemy of intelligence? Ignorance. In today’s modern world, ignorance is a choice. We have access to thousands of resources at our fingertips. Choosing to spend your time-consuming information with little to no value might feel good, but it will not bring any significance or benefits to your life.
Everything you take in can shape the way you act and feel. If you are taking in information that is negative or makes you feel negative about certain aspects of your own life, it can cause you to feel sad or negative. Choosing to consume information that makes you feel good can start to shape your mindset and beliefs, which can guide your feelings and actions throughout the day.
6. Be Selective
Intelligent people tend to have fewer friends than the average person–at least in part because the smarter you are, the more selective you become. Who you spend time with reflects who you are. Smart people are interesting and, generally, have fascinating things to talk about. By surrounding yourself with intelligent individuals, you will not only expand your knowledge but also have a community of people to keep up with. You will become a more well-rounded individual by soaking up their interests and knowledge, and it will also challenge you to bring exciting things to the table.
7. Make Time to Journal and Reflect
Reflecting on your day is something that many take for granted. In today’s fast-paced world, we are always moving around trying to get from place to place. In our downtime, we are glued to our phones, trying to soak in all of the highlights from our friends and family on social media. Why not spend that time soaking up the highlights from your day? Making time to pause and reflect is an important part of the learning process. Reflecting in a journal can make this process even more beneficial. Taking just a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on a piece of paper has been shown to boost your brain power.
If you are going through a challenging situation that is taking over every thought in your head, it’s impossible to stay focused on the task at hand. Journaling also allows you to get stressful or negative thoughts out of your head. In most cases, by the time you’re done writing down your troubles, your mind has figured out a way to solve them. A $5 notebook can help completely change your life…and it’s cheaper than therapy.
8. Read Something You Normally Wouldn’t
Reading seems to be a dying art form for newer generations. Books have been replaced by time-sucking social media that makes it feel like reading is the last priority. Every day, look online and in other media for topics, interests, or other sources that fall off your usual path. When you do, you absorb wisdom you would never have been able to access otherwise.
Reading a book now and then can bring you a wealth of knowledge that you simply won’t find on your favorite gossip sites. Make reading a serious habit, even if it’s just a few pages a day. Your intellect will be enriched with every chapter you breeze through.
9. Share What You Know and Apply Your New Knowledge
Learning something new is important, but sharing that knowledge makes what you’ve learned actionable and meaningful. There really is no point in learning something if it doesn’t make you smarter or inspire you to improve. The smartest people apply what they know not to become a person of success but rather to become a person of value.
Start building smart habits today and see what happens to your thinking tomorrow.