I’m sure we’re all used to thinking that one of the only things that can’t be learned is intelligence. You’re either born with it, you either have to accept that from then on you will live your life in the mediocrity of an average IQ. That’s not really wrong, but it’s not true either. Sure, some people might be complete disasters and lost causes, but anything is learn-able. All it takes is some will and the desire to better yourself. What comes next, you wonder? Oh, don’t worry, you won’t need to start projecting spatial NASA projects, all you need is a really accessible hobby, and you got yourself a comfortable and pleasant way to get those gears going. So, in case you want to see a boost in your smarts, here are 5 Hobbies That Will Increase Your Intelligence.
P.S. You don’t need to practice all of them. Just one is fine. Don’t overwork yourself, your newly heightened cleverness won’t be of much use if you’re exhausted all the time.
1. Musical Instruments
There is a reason why above being considered musical geniuses, people of the likes of Mozart and Beethoven were also highly intelligent people overall.
Don’t think that you need to practice fifty instruments in parallel, revolutionize the world of musical genres and leave for the world a heritage of billions of plays and songs written all by yourself. A simple regular stringing of a guitar is going to do. Playing musical instruments is going to help with creativity, language, motor skills, analytical skills and even math. Don’t ask me how, but I’m assuming that the level of focus you develop out of paying close attention the music you’re playing, is going to come in handy with other fields too. What’s better is that there is an extremely attractive variety of instruments to choose from, some of which are rather affordable, and tutors to give you lessons are pretty easy to come by.
2. Just Read
The most obvious choice on this list, indeed. We know how reading is the biggest gate for escaping reality, how it greatly improves vocabulary and creativity, but the list doesn’t stop there.
Regardless of what kind of literature we enjoy, staring at scribbles on pieces of dead wood and hallucinating brings other effects that bring benefits to our daily lives and our professional lives. Reading reduces stress, which in turn brings a boost in self esteem and mood, and heightens all three levels of intelligence (fluid, emotional and crystallized). It also increases our problem solving skills, making us react better to situations by offering improved organization and managerial aptitudes. When I was little I genuinely thought that if I read enough books, I’d actually go down the Matilda path and develop telekinetic powers. Let me just mention: it doesn’t work. So, if you think of binge reading for the sake of gaining something out of it, let it be those things mentioned before.
3. Regular Exercise
“Mens sana in corpore sano.”
The list of benefits gained from exercise just keeps getting longer and longer. Science now shows that physical activity isn’t just a fantastic way to polish our bodies and to help us lead stable, healthy lives, but it’s also a way to get our brains to function better. Regular exercise (note: regular exercise, not occasional hardcore workouts) releases a substance called BDNF, a massive contributor to a better functionality of memory, focus, learning, understanding and concentration. I’d say that all the students who are tormented by finals and have trouble with one (or all) of the things enumerated previously, should simply pick up their sneakers and go out for regular jogging sessions. But who am I kidding? Most students during finals are only preoccupied with lying face down on a pile of empty pizza boxes and crying.
4. Language Learning
Do you want a sure way to train your memory skills? Try picking up a new language.
In doing so, you will need to memorize plenty of new words, pay close attention to grammar and learn how to structure words in sentences. All of these will, naturally, help with a great boost in our intelligence. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that bilingual people not only are more likely to steal that job you’re desperately longing after, but that they’re also better at puzzle solving. I guess the latter doesn’t really affect you personally, so focus on the former in order to get you motivated.
If you’re having issues with sitting still outside of your doctor’s office for five minutes, then meditation isn’t for you. Also, you might be having attention issues. Go get those checked.
Meditation is really, really cool. Contrary to popular belief, it’s more than just sitting in the same position for hours as means to tone down your anger (if you really need to meditate to keep this in check, you might also be having temper issues; go get this one checked out too). When the Dalai Lama scientist Richard Davidson met up for a study regarding the effects of meditation on brain waves, researchers found out that the Buddhist monks were, essentially, able to control their brains. What does that mean? With enough focus, they were able to tell their brains to enter a state of high compassion, and – boom – they suddenly were overrun by intense levels of compassion. This whole meditation business, if practiced correctly and regularly, can help us greatly by self inducing to our brain the emotion and state we want or need to be in at that moment. We can tell ourselves to be confident before an interview, more focused before an exam or more in-control before a negotiation.
The path to a boost in intelligence is fortunately relatively cost-less and pleasant. More than that, we don’t have to become experts in music, Buddhist monks or Nobel literature nominees in order for the first results to start piling up. So, pick one of these 5 Hobbies That Will Increase Your Intelligence, and get those gears going! After all, you have nothing to lose, right?