Do you want to be smarter? Then begin to adopt these hobbies and habits!

Smarts don’t grow on trees and to get a bit of extra oomph when it comes to your cognitive abilities, it is important to work on them on an everyday basis.

Now, I’m not saying that you can drastically increase your level of intelligence even if you work on it diligently for months, but in my opinion, smartness differs from intelligence. Intelligence is your ability to absorb new skills and knowledge while smartness doesn’t necessarily equate to that.

Look at smartness more as your ability to approach problems from a different angle, or to use unconventional thinking and problem-solving skills to get better results faster. Now, you usually do all that by going to school or taking a class that teaches something useful you’re interested in. However, there are certain hobbies and habits that you can practice on an everyday basis and still help yourself tremendously in your quest to become a more rounded person.

If you adopt just a few of the following hobbies and habits, you will be giving your brain the daily workout it requires to grow and develop into a mean computing machine you want it to be.

1. Learn to Play an Instrument

Your parents might have forced you to play the tuba when you were younger, and you probably couldn’t wait to ditch it once you started high school with a pretense that you have too much studying to do. Well, now you might start wishing you kept with it.

Research shows that people who play a musical instrument perform better when it comes to verbal and math skills, processing of abstract ideas, creativity, and motor skills. If you want to get all sciency – playing an instrument strengthens the corpus callosum by creating new neural links that connect the two hemispheres of your brain better.

It’s not late, however. Children learn instruments much faster, but if you’re an adult with an interest you have something those kids don’t, and that is willpower to persist. Pick an instrument that you’ve always liked and get jamming!

2. Play ‘Brainy’ Games

Forget about Monopoly and make chess your game of choice. If you’re persistent and like the game, you will reap numerous benefits from this brainy activity. Games such as chess, Sudoku, and some other high-level board games allow you to practice your problem-solving skills. These types of games also increase neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to reorganize itself in an effort to see things from a different point of view.

One more thing; in addition to learning faster and memorizing better people with higher neuroplasticity are less susceptible to bouts of depression and anxiety, so there are actual health benefits from playing one boring game of chess every day!

3. Question Everything

Playing the devil’s advocate is both fun and advantageous! Going through the day being the ‘Yes’ man and gobbling up all explanations that are served to you will ultimately make you a dumber person. Take a contrarian view of things whenever possible and question everything.

Now, don’t push it. Use this approach when interacting with colleagues, friends and everyday objects – avoid using it on your spouse or boss unless you think you can get away with it. Ask yourself why milk is packaged the way it is and proclaim it a mistake – and then do some research to find out why you’re wrong.

This will help you develop critical thinking skills that will certainly help you in your personal and professional life and force you to truly understand how things –and people – work!

4. Find Smarter Friends

Get into the habit of socializing with people who are smarter than you, at least, people who you perceive to be smarter than you. You know, the sort of crowd that talks science and philosophy over an afternoon cup of coffee, or visits local galleries on their day off to discuss art and culture.

Your regular friends are probably a great bunch of people, don’t get me wrong, but they are inside your comfort zone and it’s hard to get surprised by anything they say or do. Reaching out and mingling with a smarter crowd exposes you to new ideas and forces you to step up your game too.

5. Read a Book – or At Least a Chapter

Some people just dislike reading, and that is a shame since reading those wonders for your brain. Make a deal with yourself; read at least a chapter of a book or an article a day. It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you enjoy it. Some will go for The Financial Times while others will pick something lighthearted, and that’s ok.

Reading boosts different kinds of intelligence in one go; emotional, fluid and crystallized and helps you develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Also, it will make you better equipped to understand different processes and patterns, as well as infuse you with some new, fresh ideas!

What you need to take to heart is that learning is a process and that your brain has the potential to acquire new skills and change thinking patterns quickly, as long as you provide it with satisfactory stimuli. Some hobbies and habits are just better at getting you there and you need to enrich your life with things that will help you grow and tap into your potential. Get out of your comfort zone once in a while; it is an excellent mental workout!

If you know other hobbies and habits that can make people smarter, share in the comments below!

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