Everyone wants to be smarter, better-looking, and more skilled, but while you may desire to play football like Peyton Manning, your genes and natural ability may hamper your desire of realizing this dream. The brain, however, is a complex organ that we still don’t know much about. While you may have heard that general exercise and meditation can improve brain function, there are multiple ways you can train your brain to think more clearly, be more positive, and better express creativity.
While there is nothing that can increase your IQ in a day, there are small daily habits that will enhance your intelligence and help you stay sharp.
1. Pick up a musical instrument
Always wanted to play the guitar? Love the sound of a violin? Here’s just another excuse to pick up a musical instrument. Playing music helps increase creativity, analytical skills, language, math, and fine motor skills, reports Entrepreneur. To top it all off, playing a musical instrument strengthens the corpus callosum, which links the two hemispheres of the brain by creating new connections. Improving the function of your corpus callosum helps with executive skills, memory, problem solving, and overall brain function, says Upworthy.
2. Read the newspaper daily
While you may veer toward sports or entertainment news, including the latest national and world news stories on your daily reading docket will quickly increase your worldly knowledge. Not only will you be informed on major world events, but you’ll also be exposed to new cultures and alternative ways of thought. Read the newspaper daily for a few months and you’ll be armed with adequate small talk and conversational banter at the next dinner party you attend.
3. Make time for game time
Rather than flipping on the TV in the evening, play a game that challenges you. Try crossword puzzles, Sudoku, board games, or even video games in lieu of reruns of your favorite TV show, Lifehack recommends. By keeping your mind continually working — even during leisure activities — you are increasing your logical thought and problem solving processes, which can impact almost every aspect of your life for the better.
4. Download a word-of-the-day app
This may be one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your intelligence. The Word of the Day app pulls words from Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, and the Oxford English Dictionary to challenge your brain with new lingo. You can star or favorite words you want to keep front-of-mind and can even share words you’ve learned with friends. Challenge yourself by using your daily word in a real-life sentences and conversations with friends. Try to expand your vocabulary by learning a word daily with apps like Live Mocha, Basuu, or DuoLingo.
5. Make time for exercise
As if you needed another reason to hit the gym more consistently, it turns out that exercising daily will flood your cells with BDNF, a protein that helps increase your mental acuity, says Entrepreneur. Mental acuity is a broad term that signifies the functionality of your memory, ability to learn, focus, and concentration. Occasional, intense exercise won’t have the same effect as regular movement, so make a fitness plan you can stick to daily and reap the benefits of not only a better physique but a stronger mind, too.
6. Meditate for a few minutes
Take cues from Steve Jobs’ success and give daily meditation a shot. Not only will it relieve stress, but it can also help increase your intelligence. Impressively, monks who meditate regularly have shown a sizable increase in their brain’s gray matter. Meditation works because it trains the brain to focus and steer away from its natural chattering array of thoughts. By meditating for a quick five minutes a day, you can increase your intelligence and attentiveness to the world around you.