When I took The Lifebook Quest, there was a section on intellect. You were supposed to build an intellectual habit, and many people in the Lifebook group didn’t really understand what that meant. As someone who has always been curious, and who researches and writes a lot for websites, I have fallen into many intellectual habits that have propelled me forward with my writing, relationships, career, happiness, and success. If you want to develop some habits to get wiser (and improve your life because of it) following are some that I have found invaluable.
1. Continuously Educating Yourself
Never stop learning. If you haven’t adopted that belief, it’s an affirmation that you should write down and pin up all over your house so that you can make it a belief.
To learn every day is an intellectual gift you can easily give yourself. Simply look up something that you want to know more about and you’ve added more knowledge into your brain.
Courses help you take it to the next level. The curriculum is given in an order that helps you build a foundation of knowledge and they build upon that.
And, of course, non-fiction books are great too. You may not have exercises or homework in books, but your intellect is pushed forward each time you read a new book.
I think the big thing is that when learning becomes a habit, you see the value in growing as a person and you become better at life.
- You embrace negative situations because you understand they offer a lesson where you can grow and become better.
- Each day becomes an opportunity for growth and is not wasted.
- You are more willing to try new things and fail.
- Your comfort zone grows bigger and your ego grows smaller.
- You can apply past lessons to current situations.
- And, you contribute to society more.
2. Getting Rid Of ‘But’ From Your Speech
When you say ‘but’ in a sentence, you tend to close down any further thinking about the situation.
For instance, you may say, “I want to take this course, but I don’t have the time.” That’s pretty final. You’ve ended by saying it’s pretty much impossible because you don’t have the time.
Instead of saying but, try saying ‘and’. ‘I want to take this course, and I don’t have the time.” This removes the ‘but’ which contrasts with what you want sharply, and gives you an opening to think about it further. You want to take the course and you don’t have time, so how can you fix that?
Of course, we are not used to hearing ‘and’ instead of ‘but’, so this will take some practice. Every time you hear yourself say ‘but’ try to replace it with ‘and’ – if not out loud, at least in your mind. You will feel lighter and free to continue analyzing the situation to see if you can find a solution to help you do what you want to do.
3. Thinking Rationally In Stressful Situations
The habit of thinking logically when problems arise can help you avoid doing stupid things, saying stupid things, giving up, and feeling a ton of regret later on.
The obstacles to thinking logically are beliefs and emotions.
When we let our beliefs interfere with our thinking, we can become unreasonable as we try to prove our beliefs right.
And, when we let emotions interfere with our thinking, all hell can break loose.
I used to write for a dating blog, and most of the people who left comments on there let their beliefs and emotions rule their thinking. They were erratic and off point, and it was obvious that they weren’t thinking logically about the situation.
For instance, take someone who thinks they are NEVER going to find love. That’s not logical. They don’t know that love is never going to find them. That’s an opinion based on their past experiences, limiting beliefs, and emotions. With that kind of thinking, you are going to charge into a date knowing that it’s not going to work out. And, guess what? You will do whatever it takes to make that happen!
The good news is that if you adopt the habit of learning, you will automatically start to think more rationally. The more you know, the more logical you become.
That’s why grandpa and grandma don’t get too upset about things anymore.
Limiting beliefs about yourself, what you are capable of, how the world works, and how life is supposed to be, will hold you back from thinking something over logically.
To get rid of limiting beliefs, question yourself constantly.
For instance, if you think it’s hard to make money, ask yourself if that’s really true? Research other people and how they feel about it. Listen to stories from people who have different beliefs than you. If they have had experiences contrary to your beliefs, then are your beliefs really true or are they just your perception? Take the time to dig into your belief system and discover whether or not things you believe are set in stone or have some wiggle room.
4. Giving Your Mind A Break
Don’t spend all your time trying to solve the great mysteries of life. And, don’t spend all your time working on projects for your career, wealth, and success. If you do, you will eventually go into burnout mode and your intellect will suffer because of it.
I strongly suggest you adopt a morning routine that gives you a buffer between waking up and being busy. It helps your mind relax and recharge.
I also suggest you take breaks in your day and do things that don’t require a ton of mind power. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to get in those breaks and help your mind stay sharp and ready for action.
5. Not Giving Up
Having the perseverance to keep going, even when you can’t figure things out, is a great intellectual habit to adopt. It will help you overcome obstacles that other people are not able to overcome. And it will push you towards more success and happiness than you could ever get from giving up and giving in.
The thing to remember is that some things take a lot of mental effort and require a lot of time to figure out. For instance, four years of college requires your intellectual commitment.
Moreover, some things in life just don’t come easy. For example, a friend of mine started a business project that he thought was going to be easy to figure out and perfect. Despite his talent, he spent almost a year working on it. Why? It turned out, it wasn’t so easy to figure out. It required a ton of intellectual effort and stamina. His habit of not giving up helped him see it through and feel the reward of success.
6. Observing And Appreciating Other Cultures
We are all more alike than we are different. And when I see someone putting down someone’s culture, or making a negative remark about them, I’m aware that they have not developed the intellectual habit of observing and learning about other cultures.
When you start to educate yourself about other cultures and learn about them, you start to appreciate people in them for who they are. This improves your social life and gives you more opportunities in life, because, other people are often the catalyst to the next step.
I would say that this may be the most important intellectual habit people could develop. Hate and a divide always come from not appreciating other people for who they are. It slows progress, decreases happiness, and affects success negatively. On the other hand, when people get along and work together, amazing things can happen.
Just one MORE reason to meditate. Studies are showing that you can improve your intelligence through meditation.
For example, in this study, participants were divided up either in a meditation or book listening group. The participants who did the meditation were found to have better memory and focus than the other group that listened to a book.
But that’s just one study with a few benefits. Over the years, I have seen many studies that prove meditation is good for your intellect and your health. In fact, meditation can actually change your brain.
There are plenty of programs out there to help you meditate. One that I started with years ago, and is still my favorite, is Zen12. It gives you 12-minute tracks with a variety of sounds and helps you progress from beginner to advanced. You can try it out here.
8. Focusing On One Thing At A Time
Trying to do too many things at once? It could be hurting your brain power, which will impact your future happiness and success.
When it comes to technology, researchers found that people who multitask have a poorer memory. They also had a harder time with cognitive tasks such as verbally expressing what they see and keeping things straight in their minds. In the end, they concluded that the brains of multitaskers were not working as well as they should.
So, while it may look impressive when someone seems to be doing a few things at once, you have to wonder how well they are doing those things and how much it has affected certain cognitive skills.
Bottom line: Develop the habit of getting rid of distractions and paying attention to the task at hand.
9. Studying A Second Language
Learning a language is hard, but it’s really good for your brain. It’s a great way to give your brain a complete workout as you struggle to learn, hear, understand, and say the language.
Moreover, you are working your memory as you try to remember the language. And, you are working your reasoning skills as you try to make sense of the words and how they are put together.
And, of course, being able to speak a second language will come in handy when you need to communicate something to someone in that language or understand what they are saying. You can really stand out from the crowd when you are able to communicate with people in their native language.
I have seen people recommend that you study a language at least 30 minutes a day for its powerful intellect benefits. Some days that can be exhausting, though. I try to do it in some form or fashion every day, and I don’t put a time limit on it. It all depends on the day.
10. Get Engaged In Intellectual Conversations
Don’t waste your time arguing with the guy who says nothing and says it loudly. Instead, get engaged in thoughtful conversations that stimulate your mind and make you think.
At a party, don’t talk to the complainer or person who wants to talk about meaningless stuff. Instead, find the person who can communicate well and engage with them. They will challenge your beliefs and help you learn and grow. Or, at the very least, they will stimulate your brain and make you think.
Online, stop engaging with trolls who talk nonsense for a reaction. Instead, strike up a conversation on a forum or in a group with someone who has something interesting to say.
At work, take your breaks around people who are actually talking about something other than how much work sucks!
11. Saying ‘I Want To’ More
How many times a day do you say something like ‘I have to do this’? By saying ‘have to’ you create a small sense of stress. Getting to do something is much more fun than having to do something. Therefore, develop the habit of saying, ‘I want to…’ more.
You will find that this also gives you more clarity into the fact that life is about choices, and you are doing something because you choose to do it, not because you are forced to do it. This will give you more control over your life and help you implement other intellectual habits that propel you forward to being the best version of you possible.