Being Smarter with 10 habits
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Some of the smartest people in the world were once as ignorant as the others. But eventually, they experimented with new ways, made mistakes, learned from them and cultivated habits that made them who they are. Not everybody is born genius, it is years of practice and genuine curiosity that takes one a step higher. It is persistence and perseverance that makes them stand apart from the crowd. We have listed down 10 daily habits that will make you smarter, habits that great men incorporated into their routine.
Read, Read & Read
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Most people don’t buy into the idea that reading nourishes your intellect nor are they fascinated by the amount of knowledge they accumulate. I remember when I started reading a newspaper, I almost dozed off through the second page. Then I subscribed to reading novels because I knew reading newspapers wasn’t meant for me. Reading stories, autobiographies and history awed me. The knowledge that I gained was incredulous. The number of words that I learned was beyond comprehension and I could join any type of conversation. You don’t know how much you don’t know. So read whatever you can get your hands on. It may not be a thrilling experience at first, but you will be amazed by how smart it makes you. Some of the world’s smartest and successful people are avid readers. Life’s greatest lessons are transcribed in words and it is these words that will make you smart.
If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Question about everything and anything that interests you. Learning is a lifelong commitment. It does not stop after you have completed your education or found a good job. To become smart, you must crave for more information. When a child is born, he is devoid of any worldly information. As he grows, he starts questioning about the things around him and he stops questioning only after his curiosity is answered with a relevant response. Be a child again. Cultivate the habit of questioning the most mundane things, such as, why is the color of the sky blue? Or why don’t humans have a tail? Questions will lead to more questions, which in turn will lead to a strong research and ultimately a sharper mind. Accepting things signifies that you are putting your brain to passivity. One new question will bring with it thousands of paradigms and will, in turn, expand our horizon. It will change how we see the world.
Get out of your comfort zone
“I won’t go on the stage to address the gathering because public speaking makes me nervous.” You must get out of your comfort zone and fine-tune your brain to face challenges, however easy of difficult they might seem. Push yourself higher. Make yourself do things you would never think of doing. Irrespective of the outcome, the process will make you smarter and wiser.
Focus on progress
Intelligence is not inborn, but it is a work in progress. Intelligence is adapted from the things we learn, and we learn only if put our mind to it. Our ability to grasp knowledge, solve problems, enhance creativity and achieve goals differ. But becoming smarter is not a task that could be accomplished in a few months, days or hours time. It is a process that keeps evolving. The more you focus on the progress you achieve, the smarter you become. With the world changing at a pace faster than the speed of light, one thing you must always strive for is the dedication and focus on your goals. New things keep popping up every second, but your job is to incorporate them as you learn and grow. Stay focused.
Remember how teachers back at school made us write mathematical tables and formulas ten times so that we could memorize them? And this exercise did make us remember those tables better. You can acquire a ton of information every day but to retain it over a longer period of time is a Herculean task. When you sit down and reflect on what you have learned, you force your brain to think more deeply and the outcome is refined knowledge. Sharing your knowledge with others will not only help you reinforce it but will make you smarter. Writing is directly proportional to success. It enriches our vocabulary and improves our communication skills. So pen down the things you have learned or simply mention it in your journal.
Synchronise with different world views
Doesn’t your curiosity spark when you see a foreigner purchasing grocery in your market? Doesn’t your mind start wandering about their culture, lifestyle, food, language, and habits? When you let your mind wander, you synchronize it with different worldviews. When such thoughts pop into your brain, your job is to dig deeper. Strike a conversation with them. Chances are they are as much curious to know about you as you are about them. Read about them, their markets, their workplace and their laws. There will be no end to how much fascinated it will leave you. When you become interested in a particular topic, you start researching about everything related to it. It is a way to change your perceptions about the world. It is a habit that will make you smart.
Visualize your success
Do you ever visualize yourself receiving a trophy after you have won the tennis or chess or any other championship? How sweet does that vision look? When we visualize our success, we visualize the steps we take to reach it and we become more committed and focused to reach it. We visualize the hurdles and we devise strategies to face them. End result? We are better gripped with tools that will help us overcome those hurdles and achieve success. Naturally, we become smarter.
So you have got the world’s knowledge in your head, you know everything that’s going around you and you know why certain things happen a certain way. What use is this knowledge of, when you don’t use it? An action is the key to all of the life’s locks. Action separates the do-er from the observer. It separates the player from the audience. Action makes intelligence and smartness meaningful. Without action, knowledge has no meaning. As Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said, “You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Make the most of your time
Smart people know how to effectively manage their time. Being busy and being productive are two completely different things. You may work hard twelve hours a day yet learn or achieve nothing significant. On the other hand, you may work six hours a day, dedicate some quality time to your family and gain a significant amount of knowledge. Most people indulge in their work, believing that it will expand their horizon and make them smarter, without realizing that this will, in fact, stunt their mental growth. To make the most of your time, list down everything that you do in a day and the time it takes to do it. Mark the important tasks and cross out the ones that can be ignored. Analyze how much time can be saved and evaluate if important tasks can be done in less time with more concentration. Learn to prioritize. If you find it difficult to keep a track of your time, maintain a journal and note down every activity that you do. Over a period of time, you will master the technique of time management.
Hang out with people that will uplift your mental abilities than those who will degrade it. Smart and intelligent people tend to have fewer friends. They interact less with others and are very choosy when extending their hand of friendship to others. If you don’t want to spend time with people who are more harmful to you than useful, cut back on the number of friends you make. Dozens of friends will surely make you look hip but remember that one rotten apple spoils the whole basket. Interact but don’t get attached. Be selective. Be smart.
Cultivating the above 10 habits to become smarter will seem difficult at first, but once you follow it religiously, you will notice the changes in you and the potential of your mind. Smartness is derived from the things we do, the mistakes we make and how we learn from them. Now, that you are equipped with the knowledge of sharpening your intellect, it’s time to get going!