Here are nine things you need to know to expand your intelligence. The first three are related to the nature of intelligence:
1. Intelligence is multifaceted. It is silly valuing a car by a single feature such as its mileage. And just as there are many factors like comfort, safety, acceleration, power, durability, looks, mileage, etc., that go into determining the value of a car, our intelligence too is multifaceted. We have emotional intelligence, social intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, spatial intelligence, spiritual intelligence, mathematical intelligence, language intelligence, verbal intelligence, poetic intelligence, and so on. There may be thousands of different ways intelligence may be expressed. Do not allow anybody to tell you that the number represented by IQ (Which primarily focuses on problem solving math and language problems) measures the complete spectrum of intelligence that you have access to.
2. Intelligence is dynamic. One prevailing false notion is that everyone has a fixed quantity of intelligence that we are born with, and we can do nothing to change it. In fact intelligence is dynamic and it can both grow and ebb. It grows as we learn new things and our brains builds new connections and it ebbs when we under-use our brains.
3. Intelligence is a muscle. “Use it or lose it” works for both your muscle and intelligence. The metaphor of the muscle is useful when it comes to intelligence. You can grow it by practice and you have to work towards maintaining it. And just as a muscle is best worked by doing various types of exercises and stretches, your intelligence is expanded and maintained by engaging it in a variety of different ways.
The next three are related to the bottlenecks that limit us from expressing our intelligence:
4. Do not put yourself in a box. The biggest obstacle to expand our intelligence is the belief that our intelligence is limited and it cannot grow. If you convince a frog that its abilities are restricted to swimming in a small pond, it will never venture out in the open ocean. Similarly if we convince ourselves that we are not intelligent enough to tackle some of life’s demanding problems then we unnecessarily hobble ourselves. It is best that we cast away such mental shackles and prepare ourselves to swim in the open ocean.
5. Be wary of the ego. The ego is a huge roadblock to access the deep reservoir of untapped intelligence and creativity within us. The ego creates unnecessary stress and fear and prevents us from entering a state of “flow”. When we are in a state of “flow” we work at our peak level with all aspects of our brain fully engaged. The state of flow is a completely egoless state. Rather than spending energy with questions such as: “What will others think of me?” or “What will happen to me if I fail?” all our energy is directed at the problem itself.
6. Out-of-control stress is an issue. A big factor that prevents us from tapping the full scale of intelligence available to us is stress. When we feel under attack, or when we feel insecure or fearful, or when we feel threatened, our body responds by triggering a stress response. This type of stress prevents us from focusing our energy on any given task. All we can do is to have very short attention spans and nervously jump from task to task without accomplishing anything. If we want to expand our intelligence, the first step is to learn to control and reduce this type of stress.
The final three are things you can do to expand your intelligence:
7. Constantly work the intelligence muscle. Challenge yourself in all areas. If you are not musically inclined take music lessons. If you are not a hands-on person take up hands-on hobbies such as sculpting, painting, or wood working. If you are mathematically challenged try your hand at math games that will improve your math skills. If language is not your strong suit set a challenge to read at least one book per month. When you expand your brain in one area, new connections are built and the brain expands in all directions
8. Do yoga to control ego and stress. The oldest known remedy against both ego and stress is yoga. Since both ego and stress are big bottlenecks to expand and access your intelligence, a regular practice of yoga becomes mandatory. If you practice all eight limbs of yoga that would give you even better results. This means you should be doing regular meditation, have a daily routine of breathing exercises, have a regular yoga practice, and make life style changes that put you in line with Yamas and Niyamas suggested by Patanjali.
9. Fine tune your diet. The brain is extraordinarily sensitive to the foods we ingest. Extra-spicy and sugary foods should be avoided. You should also put aside any habit of regular drug use if you want to expand your intelligence. Heavy, fatty, and greasy foods that make you dull should also be avoided. Over-use of caffeine, nicotine, and stimulants such as tea should also be avoided.
In an increasingly fast-paced world where information and complexity is growing exponentially, it is important that we expand our mental faculties. This article provides important pointers that will help move you in this direction. Please feel free to share this article by pressing on the like button to share these ideas with others.
Related: Superbrain Yoga