How many hours have you wasted in front of your computer watching video after video on YouTube? Chances are, if you’re like most people, you’re probably spending a couple hours of the day at your screen clicking endlessly.
This isn’t good for your personal development, is it? Isn’t it time that you begin to use your little grey cells and take advantage of one of life’s most powerful creations, the human brain?
Knowing how to become a genius is not that difficult. The hardest part is instituting the many different ways it takes to boost your intelligence levels. Indeed, it takes more than just memorizing facts and figures. You need insight, introspection and imperturbability to elevate your intellect.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 20 easy tips on how to become a genius.
Step 1: Sit down and think
When was the last time you had a good thinking session? Indeed, we think all the time, trying to decide what we want for dinner or solving a Rubik’s cube during a Monday morning meeting.
But we’re talking about lying on your sofa, staring at the ceiling and thinking about various concepts, ideas and solutions, from the trivial to the complex. You wouldn’t believe how many of us don’t have deep thinking sessions, since we routinely distract ourselves with mobile games and YouTube videos about cats.
Step 2: Test your ideas
Do you have an idea to solve the world’s energy problems with giant rubber balls? What about a plastic bottle that squeezes ketchup, mustard and relish? Or, if your team has slammed into a giant wall at the office, do you have a proposal that could succeed?
Whatever the case, you should consider testing your ideas to see whether they solve a problem. If they do, you can take them to the next level. If not, you can head back to the blueprints and utilize different methods.
Step 3: Train your memory
How good is your memory? As we get older, we become less sharp; scientists say we typically reach our peak in our early 20s. It’s all downhill from there. But does it have to be? Nope — as long as you train your memory, which allows you to be the smarty pants that you want to be.
So, the question is: how do you train your memory in the first place? Here are a few suggestions:
- Take notes about a speech, lecture or book you read because it forces you to remember what was said or done.
- Do everything manual so you don’t need to rely on automation, whether it’s speed dial on your phone or autocorrect for your spelling.
- Use the four-details observation exercise, which consists of remembering four things about a person.
- Recall and repeat in your mind what someone said to you.
Improving your memory is critical to not only helping you become a genius but to also ensure your cognitive fitness lasts longer than just your 20s.
Step 4: Read more
Let’s be honest: there are so many things that are competing for our attention. An audiobook, Netflix, a new mobile game and Facebook stalking — err, browsing. But what about books? Unfortunately, reading has become a lost artform, since many of us don’t peruse books as much as we should. It should be time to make reading great again.
It’s one of the most enjoyable experiences on this planet, and it’s great for your cognitive health. Plus, by reading, you’re automatically learning something, whether it’s a new word or a new concept. So, pick up that book of Seneca on stoicism, read that crime noir story, or catch up on Medieval poetry.
Step 5: Create a morning routine
Sure, you’re not a morning person, but that doesn’t mean anything in today’s world. Unless our world turned into a version of the cheesy 1970s motion picture The Omega Man, most of us are going to operate during daytime business hours. Therefore, if you’re not a morning person by now, then what have you been doing all this time?
- Wake up the same time every day (even on weekends!)
- Drink ice-cold water
- Eat a wholesome breakfast without a distraction
- Start a to-do list for the day and get all the tasks done
- Head outside, even if it's only for a few moments
- Stretch your body for a few minutes
- Listen to a morning podcast
- Read (yes, we’re back to that tip) for 10 minutes
It’s these little things to begin your day that can enhance the power of your brain without realizing it.
Step 6: Study opposing views
What makes someone an academic? You may believe that it’s possessing several degrees, writing peer-reviewed papers and pontificating five-dollar words.
An authentic academic is thoroughly learning opposing views to make ourselves exposed to other thoughts and ideas. Of course, it’s more comfortable to be adept at Spaghetti Monster orthodoxy, but it’s critical to develop intelligence by exploring and becoming an expert on concepts contradictory to your belief system.
Step 7: Take a culture day
Here’s something everybody should do once a month: take an arts and culture day to yourself, even if it’s for a morning or an entire day. What is it? This is when you spend your free time reading (again!), writing a poem, attending an art gallery, learning a new skill or watching a foreign film.
It might be hard to achieve, considering our busy schedules, but it’s quite important for your quest to personal development. Interested? In the words of legendary American philosopher Shia LaBeouf: “Just do it!”
Step 8: Get more sleep
We tend to undervalue our sleep. Or, at the very least, we don’t sleep the right way.
The first thing is to get more sleep, which has plenty of health benefits. The mandatory minimum is seven to nine hours. After that, you need to incorporate various ways to ensure you’re sleeping correctly. Here are some of them:
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evening, such as from your smartphone.
- Avoid caffeine or snack later in the day.
- Optimize your bedroom environment (reduce external noise, keep it dark and make the temperature comfortable).
- Introduce a pre-sleep routine, like reading a book (not again!) or listening to relaxing classical music.
- Invest in a good mattress, pillow and comforter.
Sleep is essential to becoming smarter and more focused. Without a sufficient amount of time spent in dream land, you’re going to impact your cognitive performance as well as your physical health.
Step 9: Remove unnecessary distractions
Let’s be honest: you have a treasure trove of distractions in your life that aren’t doing much for your intelligence. Believe it or not, these distractions don't have to be related to your smartphone or a social network. Instead, they can be the regret of yesterday, the promise of tomorrow and the pursuit of perfection.
Some philosophical minds might even contend that apathy is the worst distraction of them all. This can sound like the insight from the stoic school of philosophy, but it’s hard to dispute that we waste time on things that are out of our control. Put simply: instead of waiting for the weekend to do something, why not do it right now?
Step 10: Get the basics right
How can you change the world if you can’t boil a pot of water, organize your house or pay your bills on time? You may want to be a professional at solving the world’s most intricate mathematical problems or devising a perpetual motion machine, but how can that happen when you can’t get the basics done?
Once you know how to complete the minuscule and inconsequential things in your life done, you can move on to taking over the world with Elon Musk.
Step 11: Answer questions you’ve always had
What is the event horizon? Should human organs be bought and sold in the marketplace? Why don't we travel up in space from Earth? Why does time only flow in one direction? Is a hot dog a sandwich? How come we can travel to the moon but can’t make our shoes smell good?
Many of us have questions that we ask out loud or think in our minds, but we never get around to answering some of life’s greatest mysteries. It might be about time that you scheduled a short amount of time out of your day to find the answer to your quandaries. It starts by visiting one of the many unique educational websites.
Step 12: Surround yourself with the best
You’ve probably heard the expression “you are the company you keep”. One of the best ways to enhance your intelligence is by continuing to have your smarts challenged by your peers.
It might feel good to have some of your friends say “Dang. Why you so smart, bruh?”, but it won’t do much for your personal development. By having other smart people in your social circle, you can discuss a diverse array of subjects, from Greek tragedy plays to Scandinavian literature to string theory.
Step 13: Add exercise to your schedule
Exercise is critical for your physical and cognitive health. Sure, some of the world’s smartest men and women aren’t ripped like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but many do have some type of regimen to stay in shape.
By being physically active, you increase your blood flow and memory, stimulate chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, and facilitate adjustments in the brain that protect memory and thinking.
If you don’t want to run 10 minutes or lift weights to grate cheese with your abs, perhaps you can do it to become the next famous genius, like Albert Einstein or Marie Curie.
Step 14: Choose brain-healthy foods
Have you ever heard the gut being referred to as our “second brain”? Since “our two brains ‘talk’ to each other,” says Jay Pasricha, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, what benefits one very likely benefits the other.
So, what nutrient-dense foods can we add to our diet to reap both health-promoting and brain-boosting benefits?
According to the Harvard Medical School, leafy greens, berries, walnuts, fatty fish, and tea and coffee are all loaded with nutrients that can help slow down cognitive aging. Among those nutrients associated with good cognitive function are B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein, which is a plant pigment.
Step 15: Make meditation part of your routine
In spiritual traditions, meditation has, for centuries, been regarded as the path that leads to enlightenment. Thanks to science, we can now map out why: this ancient practice has been observed to have a direct effect on the hippocampus, a brain structure associated with learning, memory and emotional regulation.
What this means, in simpler terms, is that daily meditation comes with a wide variety of observable benefits, including better stress management, improved sleep quality and an increased attention span. And when you’re eager to become a real genius, all of these things are greatly beneficial.
Step 16: Learn to play an instrument
As science writer Serusha Govender begins her WebMD article on music and the mind, “Your brain loves music like Willy Wonka loves chocolate.” The reason for this is that music has a positive impact on cognitive function as well as overall mood.
More specifically, when we play an instrument, both hemispheres of the brain are stimulated at once. This is because music playing requires the activation of several regions of the brain that process vision, sound, movement and memory.
Step 17: Solve jigsaw puzzles
When was the last time you solved a jigsaw puzzle? If you’re struggling to remember, you may want to consider solving jigsaw puzzles more often.
What’s special about them is that working on them engages multiple cognitive functions at once, namely short-term memory, concentration and problem solving. By engaging both brain hemispheres at once, they help improve mental speed, and visual and spatial reasoning. A real mental workout!
Step 18: Limit alcohol and tobacco consumption
Though most of us are familiar with the effects of smoking on the lungs and heart, not many know just how much tobacco can impact the brain.
Cigarettes have been linked with more rapid cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia and brain volume loss. Not great when you’re trying to boost your brain power!
Reduced brain size and altered brain structure have also been linked with alcohol consumption. It follows, then, that a combination of these two substances will only exacerbate their negative effects on brain health.
Step 19: Work on your mental health
Whether due to job loss, health problems, divorce or a death in the family, most of us will experience a period of emotional stress at one stage or other. And when we’re down in the dumps, it’s not likely you’ll be motivated to read books, cook nutrient-dense meals, or solve jigsaw puzzles. Our main concern will be making it through one day at a time.
Though it’s important to allow ourselves the time we need to bounce back, doing our best to protect our mental and emotional wellbeing is vital. Not only can it benefit our physical health, but it’s also crucial for maintaining good cognitive function.
Step 20: Sign up for dance classes
If you haven’t “got the moves”, you may want to work on getting ’em.
Dance learning and performance don’t just boost your mood and help you develop your social skills. They integrate various regions of the brain, improving neuroplasticity — a fundamental brain property usually linked to young age, even in older adults.
Additionally, dancing can boost your cardiovascular health. A happy heart and healthy arteries translate into better oxygen flow to the brain, which also helps reduce cognitive decline.
Remember: it doesn’t matter whether you’re “naturally good” at it. Deliberate practice makes perfect — or you can simply have fun with it!
It doesn’t take a genius to become, well, a genius. By adding a few (or all) of these tips into your daily routine, you can improve your brain power, enhance your memory and ensure that you’re effectively using your little grey cells.
Your brain is a vessel that is as powerful as the universe. You shouldn’t let this extraordinary creation to go to waste. It’s never too late to tap into your potential, even if it means waking up at the ungodly hour of 7am on weekends!
Do you have any other brain-boosting tips? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on August 30, 2020. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.