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5 Surprising Habits That Make You Smarter

Career 02 Jun 2024 133 0

Habits That Make You Smarter

5 Surprising Habits That Make You Smarter

In today's fast-paced world, intelligence is highly valued. Whether you're a student striving for academic excellence, a professional aiming for peak performance, or simply someone interested in self-improvement, enhancing your cognitive abilities is essential. But did you know that some of the most effective ways to boost your brainpower are surprisingly simple? In this blog post, we'll explore five everyday habits you didn't realize could make you smarter, backed by scientific research and credible sources.

1. Reading Regularly

How Reading Stimulates the Brain

Reading is often hailed as a fundamental habit for cognitive enhancement, and for good reason. When you read, you engage multiple areas of your brain. This stimulation improves brain connectivity and function. According to a study published in Brain Connectivity, reading increases activity in the left temporal cortex, the region associated with language comprehension and long-term memory.

Benefits of Diverse Reading Materials

Diverse reading materials—ranging from fiction and non-fiction to scientific journals and poetry—stimulate different brain areas. Fiction enhances empathy and understanding of social cues, while non-fiction boosts knowledge and analytical skills. Reading scientific materials enhances critical thinking and comprehension of complex ideas.

Enhancing Vocabulary and Critical Thinking

Reading regularly expands your vocabulary, which in turn improves your communication skills. A rich vocabulary allows you to express ideas more clearly and effectively. Additionally, encountering new concepts and perspectives through reading sharpens your critical thinking skills. You learn to analyze information, recognize patterns, and make informed decisions.

Practical Tips

  • Set a Reading Goal: Aim to read a certain number of books each month.
  • Diversify Your Reading List: Include various genres to stimulate different brain areas.
  • Join a Book Club: Engaging in discussions about books can deepen your understanding and retention of the material.

2. Practicing Mindfulness

The Science Behind Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of focusing on the present moment without judgment, has profound effects on the brain. Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that mindfulness meditation can lead to changes in brain structure, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. These areas are crucial for executive function, memory, and emotional regulation.

Improved Focus and Memory

Regular mindfulness practice enhances your ability to concentrate and stay focused. It reduces the mind's tendency to wander, allowing you to stay on task longer and improve productivity. Furthermore, mindfulness has been shown to improve working memory—the ability to hold and manipulate information over short periods.

Emotional Regulation and Cognitive Flexibility

Mindfulness helps in managing stress and emotional responses. By fostering a non-reactive awareness of your thoughts and feelings, mindfulness promotes emotional regulation, which is linked to better decision-making and problem-solving skills. Cognitive flexibility, the ability to switch between different concepts or adapt behavior to new situations, is also enhanced through mindfulness.

Practical Tips

  • Start Small: Begin with short sessions of 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the duration.
  • Use Guided Meditations: Apps like Headspace or Calm offer guided sessions to help you get started.
  • Incorporate Mindfulness into Daily Activities: Practice mindfulness while eating, walking, or even during conversations.

3. Learning New Skills

Cognitive Benefits of Continuous Learning

Engaging in lifelong learning keeps your brain active and healthy. Learning new skills, such as playing an instrument, dancing, or learning a new language, creates new neural pathways and strengthens existing ones. This process, known as neuroplasticity, enhances your brain's ability to adapt and learn.

Enhancing Neural Connections

Each new skill you learn requires different parts of your brain to work together. For instance, playing an instrument involves motor skills, auditory processing, and memory. This cross-functional brain activity enhances neural connections, making your brain more efficient.

Boosting Creativity and Problem-Solving

Learning new skills also boosts creativity and problem-solving abilities. It encourages you to think in new ways and approach challenges from different angles. For example, learning a musical instrument can improve your understanding of patterns and sequences, which can be applied to solving problems in other areas of life.

Practical Tips

  • Choose Skills That Interest You: You're more likely to stick with learning if you're passionate about the subject.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down the learning process into manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistency is key to mastering new skills.

4. Physical Exercise

The Link Between Physical Activity and Brain Health

Physical exercise is not only good for your body but also for your brain. Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, providing it with oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal function. Exercise also promotes the release of neurotrophic factors, which support the growth and survival of neurons.

Supporting Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis, the process of creating new neurons, is enhanced by physical exercise. A study published in Nature Neuroscience found that aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is crucial for neurogenesis and overall brain health.

Improving Cognitive Function and Mood

Exercise has been shown to improve various aspects of cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function. It also helps in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can negatively impact cognitive performance. By improving your mood, exercise allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions.

Practical Tips

  • Incorporate Different Types of Exercise: Include a mix of aerobic, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
  • Set a Routine: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
  • Stay Active Throughout the Day: Take breaks to walk or stretch, especially if you have a sedentary job.

5. Socializing

The Cognitive Benefits of Social Connections

Humans are inherently social beings, and maintaining social connections is vital for cognitive health. Engaging in conversations and social activities stimulates the brain and improves mental sharpness. According to research published in PLOS ONE, socializing can delay cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia.

Enhancing Communication Skills and Emotional Intelligence

Regular social interactions enhance your communication skills and emotional intelligence. Engaging in meaningful conversations helps you understand different perspectives, express your ideas clearly, and respond to others' emotions appropriately. These skills are essential for both personal and professional success.

Building a Support System

Having a strong social support system reduces stress and promotes mental well-being. Friends and family can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and a sense of belonging. Lower stress levels are associated with better cognitive function and overall brain health.

Practical Tips

  • Stay Connected: Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and family, even if it's through virtual means.
  • Join Clubs or Groups: Participate in social clubs or groups that align with your interests to meet new people.
  • Engage in Conversations: Take the time to have meaningful conversations with others, whether it's during a coffee break or a social event.


Incorporating these five habits into your daily routine can significantly enhance your cognitive abilities and overall brain health. Reading regularly, practicing mindfulness, learning new skills, engaging in physical exercise, and socializing are simple yet powerful ways to boost your intelligence. By making these habits a part of your life, you can achieve mental sharpness, better problem-solving skills, and a more fulfilling life. Remember, it's never too late to start adopting these smart habits and reaping the benefits of a healthier, more intelligent brain.

By following these practical tips and understanding the science behind each habit, you can make informed decisions to enhance your cognitive function. So, start today and embark on the journey to becoming a smarter, more capable version of yourself.