10 everyday habits that will make you smarter, according to psychology

Being smart isn’t just about intelligence, it’s also about cultivating certain habits that stimulate your brain and expand your mind.

Psychology has given us some interesting insights into the everyday habits that can actually make us smarter.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 10 habits that, if incorporated into your daily routine, could significantly boost your brainpower.

Let’s dive in.

1) Embrace Curiosity

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.”

This quote by Samuel Johnson beautifully encapsulates the essence of curiosity – a trait often found in intelligent individuals.

Psychology tells us that curiosity is a major driver for learning and intellectual growth.

It’s an innate quality in children, who are constantly exploring and asking questions to understand their world better.

As we grow older, however, many of us lose this sense of wonder due to various reasons.

But here’s the good news – you can reignite your natural curiosity. Start by asking more questions, seeking out new experiences, or taking up a new hobby.

When we’re curious about something, our mind expects to learn something new. This stimulates our brain activity and encourages neuroplasticity – the ability of our brain to reorganize itself and form new neural connections throughout life.

Make a conscious effort to foster your curiosity. It might be easier said than done, but the potential intellectual rewards make it totally worthwhile.

And remember what Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

2) Practice Mindfulness

I have a confession to make. For a long time, I was a skeptic when it came to mindfulness. I couldn’t grasp how sitting quietly could have any substantial impact on my brainpower. But that was until I tried it myself.

A few years ago, I decided to give mindfulness a shot. I started with just 10 minutes a day, focusing on my breath and trying to keep my mind from wandering.

It was challenging at first, but as I stuck with it, I noticed a significant improvement in my focus and clarity of thought.

And it’s not just my personal experience. A study found that participants who underwent an 8-week mindfulness training program showed improved connectivity in parts of the brain associated with attention and cognitive flexibility.

The practice of mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

If you’re looking to boost your smarts, consider incorporating mindfulness into your everyday routine. Trust me; it’s worth the effort.

3) Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The importance of sleep for our cognitive functions cannot be overstated. It’s during sleep that our brain consolidates our memories, restores energy, and clears out waste.

Neglecting it can lead to poor concentration, memory problems, and a decrease in problem-solving skills.

As the famous psychologist, B.F. Skinner once said, “Society attacks early when the individual is not yet capable of producing shields.”

In this context, ‘society’ could be seen as the myriad tasks and responsibilities we face daily. Without a good night’s sleep as our ‘shield’, we’re less equipped to tackle them effectively.

Research backs this up too. Studies have shown that deep sleep helps improve memory recall and problem-solving abilities. So, if you’re looking to get smarter, prioritizing sleep is a no-brainer.

Ensure you’re getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Your brain will thank you for it.

4) Embrace Lifelong Learning

Psychologist Carol Dweck, known for her work on “growth mindset,” said, “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”

Dweck’s research emphasizes the importance of embracing lifelong learning. It’s not just about formal education but also involves continuous learning and personal development.

Lifelong learning keeps your brain active and engaged, which can help improve cognitive function over time. Learning a new skill, reading a challenging book, or even taking up a new hobby can all contribute to your intellectual growth.

Don’t shy away from new experiences or challenges. View them as opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, the journey to becoming smarter is a marathon, not a sprint.

5) Exercise Regularly

We all know that regular exercise is good for our physical health, but did you know it can make you smarter too?

A research study found that regular physical activity can have significant cognitive benefits. The study demonstrated an improvement in participants’ memory, attention, and problem-solving skills after regular exercise sessions.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and nutrients that are essential for cognitive function. It also stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and survival of neurons in the brain.

Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a high-intensity workout, make sure you’re incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine. Your brain will certainly appreciate it!

6) Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude might seem unrelated to boosting your brainpower, but according to positive psychology, it has a significant impact.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, once said, “Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life.”

But how does this relate to becoming smarter? Well, studies have shown that practicing gratitude can help reduce stress and improve mood, which in turn can enhance cognitive functions like memory and attention.

Incorporating a simple gratitude practice into your daily routine – such as jotting down a few things you’re thankful for each day – can do wonders for your mental wellbeing and your brainpower. So why not give it a try?

7) Limit Multitasking

In today’s fast-paced world, multitasking might seem like a necessary skill. However, research suggests that it might not be as beneficial as we think.

A study from Stanford University found that people who multitask frequently are more easily distracted and have more difficulty switching between tasks than those who don’t.

This can lead to reduced productivity and performance, negatively impacting our cognitive abilities.

The brain wasn’t designed to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Instead, it prefers to focus on one task at a time. By limiting multitasking and focusing on single-tasking, you can improve your concentration, memory, and overall cognitive performance.

When you’re tempted to juggle multiple tasks at once, remember that less is more when it comes to boosting your brainpower.

8) Engage in Deep Conversations

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, once said, “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” While he was likely referring to self-reflection, this quote can also be applied to our interactions with others.

Engaging in deep, meaningful conversations, rather than surface-level chit-chat, can significantly stimulate our brains. It encourages us to think critically, empathize with others, and see things from different perspectives – all of which are key to intellectual growth.

When you’re in a social situation, try steering the conversation towards more profound topics. Not only will it make the interaction more interesting, but it might also make you smarter!

9) Eat Brain-Boosting Foods

Did you know that what you eat can have a significant impact on your brainpower?

A research study found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein – often referred to as a ‘Mediterranean Diet’ – can enhance cognitive function and slow cognitive decline.

The nutrients found in these foods help protect the brain against oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and promote the health of neurons, leading to improved memory and cognition.

If you’re looking to boost your brainpower, consider adding more brain-boosting foods to your diet. Your brain (and your body) will thank you for it!

10) Foster Positive Relationships

Psychologist Carl Rogers, famous for his humanistic approach to psychology, once said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

One of the ways we can learn and grow is through our relationships with others.

Fostering positive relationships not only contributes to our overall happiness and wellbeing but also stimulates our brain.

Engaging with others challenges us to understand different perspectives, empathize, and communicate effectively. All of these are cognitive skills that can be honed and improved over time.

Make time for the people in your life. Engage deeply, listen attentively, and don’t shy away from meaningful conversations. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from others.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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