10 ways to improve crystallized intelligence

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Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge and know-how you get from your life experiences, lessons, and challenges. 

It tends to build up as you age and gain more life experience and accumulate knowledge. 

But you can also accelerate crystallized knowledge if you know the right tools.

1) Read more books 

Fluid intelligence is your capacity to reason and understand concepts. It often declines with age. 

Crystallized intelligence, by contrast, tends to accumulate and grow as you get older. 

“Crystallized intelligence forms part of the theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence, which was suggested in 1963 by the psychologist Raymond Cattell,” notes Tinotendo Dinhere.

One of the most effective ways to boost crystallized intelligence is to read more.

The more books you read, the more you learn. It’s that simple. 

Even a trashy fiction book is likely to teach you a few words you didn’t know or some random facts about geographic locations, people or other topics. 

You never know what you’ll learn from a book, but you can be sure you’ll learn something.

2) Travel 

If you have the means to travel, do so

Travel increases your crystallized and fluid intelligence, presenting you with innumerable new situations, challenges, opportunities, friends, cultures, and adventures. 

Even just getting from point A to point B in another country is quite the learning experience. 

You’ll pick up parts of another language, differences in customs, logistical skills, and the ability to schedule your time and get to things punctually. 

The talents and knowledge you build up while traveling is incredible and vast. 

They will boost your crystallized intelligence in manifold ways that leave you as a much smarter and more capable person.

3) Pick up a new hobby

Trying out a new hobby and getting really into it will bulk up your crystallized intelligence in powerful ways. 

This could be something like motorbiking, building cabinets, stamp collecting, gold prospecting or knitting. 

The sky is really the limit. 

There are so many hobbies out there, and they can be active or more tranquil and really whatever you’d like them to be. 

You could start up gardening, get into learning how to draw architectural blueprints on your computer or take up an interest in numismatics. 

These will all greatly boost your crystallized intelligence.

4) Meet new friends and mentors

There is no learning opportunity so important as other people. 

The people in your life starting from your own parents or siblings will teach you so much that it could never be recorded in one book. 

Even if you were neglected or mistreated, you will learn so much about what you don’t want from life in some cases from the people closest to you. 

Meeting new friends and mentors is an excellent way to boost your crystallized intelligence. 

Maybe one is an old guy at the coffee shop who’s a retired deep sea fisherman with a strong understanding of environmentalism and the world seafood market…

Another could be a stripper you meet in a line up at the mall, who tells you the real story of what it’s like satisfying the baser desires of men for money. 

You never know what you’ll learn!

Of course, knowledge from other people can often be subjective, but it’s still very valuable the more you learn about how others perceive and react to the events and situations in their lives. 

5) Watch more documentaries 

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Documentaries are jam-packed full of information and can help you learn a lot.  

They will help greatly increase and improve your crystallized knowledge by teaching you about any subject you wish to know more on, whether it’s medieval France or how the solar system works. 

You can learn so much from documentaries, and even some of the stranger ones could introduce you to concepts you find fascinating and unusual like the potential of extraterrestrial life, or theories surrounding the assassination of JFK. 

Whatever kinds of documentaries float your boat, try them out and see what you find. 

Your crystallized intelligence will head for the mountaintops, and you’ll always have plenty of handy conversation starters.

6) Take an online course  

Taking an online course is an excellent way to improve crystallized knowledge. 

If there’s something that’s always fascinated you, there’s no doubt you can find a place online to take a course in it

There are so many options out there. 

This could range from the practical to the theoretical. You could take an online course in astrophysics or in how to fix a car. 

You could sign up for something on meditation and mindset or another course about mathematics.  

As Kendra Cherry explains:

“Crystallized intelligence involves knowledge that comes from prior learning and past experiences.”

You may not have had a chance to attend college or decided not to. 

But it doesn’t mean it’s too late to study online and learn all sorts of new things. Not by a long shot.

7) Indulge your curious side

I can’t count how many new facts and discoveries I’ve made in life by just being curious. 

How does this thing work?

Why are these machines designed this way?

What language is that guy speaking? 

I’ve learned a hell of a lot this way because what I didn’t know I asked. And what people didn’t know who I asked, I searched online or asked other friends about. 

Eventually, all the facts added up, and now I can spice up almost any interaction with things I’ve learned. 

This has helped with dating, making friends, and many other aspects of life. 

It’s also helped me resolve some crises, such as being able to befriend people from various cultures and religions during tense moments crossing borders and other issues due to my knowledge.

8) Meditate 

Meditation is one of those things which has so many positive benefits that it’s hard to see any real downside. 

The only downside, perhaps, is that while meditating you aren’t working or cleaning and other physically useful things. 

However, the benefits for your mental, physical and intellectual health are astounding. 

In terms of crystallized intelligence, meditation helps by basically growing the depth of your brain. 

In other words: meditating makes you smarter and able to retain, understand and analyze more information in a way that boosts your crystallized intelligence. 

As Dinhere explains:

“According to scientific research, meditation improves cognitive functioning, particularly by increasing the density of regional gray matter, which plays a significant role in learning and recalling. 

“Similarly, meditation also promotes mindfulness, leading to improved capability to pay attention.”

9) Learn a new language 

Learning a new language is one of the best ways to improve crystallized intelligence. 

Humble brag: I speak five and am currently learning three. 

I love languages and learning languages, because it’s not only a challenge, it also shows you a new way of looking at the world and reality. 

For example, Mandarin began as pictographs or simplified drawings. You can directly see the basic shape of a mountain in the word for mountains, a stick figure in the word for person, a line through the middle of a box in the word for middle. 

And so on…

Languages and the words and phraseology of other languages are fascinating. They are also directly applicable. 

You can learn Spanish and go to Colombia and speak it!

You can learn Korean and go to Seoul and try it out (or even your local Korean BBQ place!).

That’s what I just love about languages. They add so much to your crystallized intelligence, and the more you get a chance to use them the more that grows in tandem. 

10) Start a business

If you ever need a crash course in learning a million new things and improving your crystallized intelligence, start a business. 

You’ll learn more than you ever imagined and you’ll remember it, too. 

After all, when it’s your wallet on the line you tend to pay a lot of attention. 

Whether it’s an e-commerce business, a law firm, a salvage service, an accounting office or opening a cafe, you’ll learn an enormous amount about everything. 

This includes things such as the laws where you incorporate the business, the ins and outs of how to maximize profit while providing good products and services, and how to successfully expand and perfect your enterprise. 

Your directly-applicable crystallized knowledge will be immense. 

The bottom line

Crystallized and fluid knowledge are both integral parts of a well-rounded and learned person. 

Critical thinking skills are essential components of progress, now perhaps more than ever. 

We absorb information passively in many cases, instead of seeking it out. 

But by being proactive in our quest to improve crystallized intelligence, we can become a much more empowered and effective human beings. 

As technology accelerates and overtakes many domains of our lives, our ability to learn and process new information is of paramount real-world importance. 

Knowledge is power has never been so true!

I encourage readers to try out one or two (or all ten!) of the suggestions above as ways to improve their crystallized intelligence. 

You’ll be surprised just how useful it can be and how much what you learn changes your life and the lives of others for the better.

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer. His book Cultworld was published last year. Follow him on Twitter @paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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