Intelligence is flexible and there are a lot of things to give it a daily boost. For smart thinking your mind needs 3 things:
- To be trained in thinking processes
- To have plenty of information
- To focus on a problem or idea
For example, Thomas Edison was able to think of his light bulb because:
- He was a trained logical thinker
- He knew a lot about electrical engineering
- He focused on solving a problem
Here are a bunch of things to do every day to help your mind to think smart.
“Drink 2 glasses of water within 30 minutes of waking up”
Since you’ve been asleep for hours, your body has not gotten water for 6-9 hours. Water is needed for the filtration of waste products and fluid balance. Two big glasses of water offset the fluid deficit you had from sleeping. Studies on kids (study 1, study 2) show that drinking more water increases their ability to complete mental tasks. Make sure your brain is not dehydrated at the beginning of the day already.
“Read a book summary during breakfast”
Reading books is great, but breakfast is far more suitable for something shorter. Instead of reading news articles that have little impact on your life/intelligence, read best selling book summaries. You can find summaries by:
- Googling your book title + summary, for example “7 Habits of Highly Effective People summary”
- Use a summary subscription like Blinkist or getAbstract
“Listen to stimulating podcasts/audiobooks during your commute”
Even if you spend only 10 minutes on your bike like I do, load your phone up with intellectually stimulating audio. Good sources could be:
- TED talks (their app lets you pre-download audio so you don’t eat your mobile data)
- Blinkist has some of their summaries in audio form
- Audiobooks you purchased
- Podcast of your favorite authors
“Drink green tea while working”
Where caffeine makes many people anxious, green tea (especially Matcha tea) contains l-theanine. This aminoacid causes an increase in alpha brain waves in the brain. In practice this means that where coffee can induce anxiety, high quality green teas cause a relaxed focus without inducing sleepiness. This is also why l-theanine is available as a supplement to aid in relaxation and increasing cardiovascular health.
“Take naps during the day”
Napping helps your mind refresh. It’s been shown that napping during learning increases learning speed. Your mind has a rhythm that determines when it gets sleepy and when it needs sleep:
As you can see on average people feel more sleepy than usual between noon and 4 PM. This is a perfect time to have a nap, and will increase your alertness and productivity for the rest of the day. Personally I’ve has good results with post-workday naps too (around 6 PM).
“Don’t take sugar during the day”
In fact, if you can cut it altogether. But if you can’t for whatever reason, just make sure not to have it during times where you need to focus. Sugar highs and the following lows are not good to keep your brain functioning smartly. What does work very well are fatty acids. Try to switch any sweet stuff during lunch for something more substantial like fish or eggs.
“Do social media / meme websites only a couple of times a day”
The brain adapts to the information you throw at it. If you bombard it work non-stimulating and fast switching information your focus will get destroyed. Keep your brain functioning on a higher level by throwing stimulating things at it. If you feel the need to procrastinate, set a timer and don’t get lost in mindlessly scrolling.
“Play games instead of watching series or movies”
Watching tv is a passive activity. Your brain is consuming information, but not processing or interacting with it. Substitute or supplement this entertainment with gaming. A 2014 study showed that even a simple game like Super Mario has visible impact on brain plasticity (flexibility). Another piece of research covered by Forbes shows the same. Actively engage your brain where you can, instead of letting it slumber passively.
“Read a book instead of watching tv”
Similar to playing games instead of watching tv, reading a book is an active exercise for the brain. Where watching video entertainment is a passive consumption of information, reading a book requires your brain to actively construct mental images of what you are reading.