If you want to know how to increase IQ, the answer is simple.
Create and complete goals.
Sounds like a sweeping statement, doesn’t it?
I’ll explain why it’s true on this page.
And rest assured, the main reason why intelligence goes stagnant in the first place is also simple to explain.
It comes from the absence of goals, or the bad habit of not completing the ones you set for yourself.
Think of it this way:
Failing to continually fuel yourself with goals leads to feelings of worthlessness and shame on a downward spiral to rock bottom.
But once you understand that intelligence requires goals in order to grow, there are endless self-directed missions you can create that are scientifically proven to make you smarter.
And to help you even more, I’ll give you a list of suggested activities that improve cognitive function quickly.
Ready to boost your IQ in ways that are easy and fun?
Let’s get started.
Can You Increase Your IQ?
In a word, yes.
The only catch is that there are multiple kinds of intelligence.
Now, I’m not asking you to understand the difference between crystal and fluid intelligence. But if you want to increase your understanding of psychology and memory, you should learn about such matters.
You should also look into the science of IQ testing, which remains divided. But testing and retesting assumptions is what science is all about. Richard Haeir is one of the more progressive scientists working on intelligence, and in this interview suggests that treatments to help people improve their IQ scores may be coming in the near future.
For now, I see every reason to believe you can increase your intelligence and it comes down to how you definite it. I also see no reason to limit the understanding of your “intelligence quotient” to a test that may not reflect the kinds of problems you tackle in your everyday life.
So how should the lifelong learner craft a personal definition of intelligence that can be worked on scientifically as an individual? Here’s an attempt:
Intelligence is the ability to learn new information.
And since there are many kinds of information, it’s important that you are specific. That’s where proper goal-setting comes in.
As you’ll discover today, you can pick individual kinds of information to focus on and get incredible boosts as a result.
How To Increase Intelligence:
An Important Nuance You Need To Know
Of course, some readers might be thinking:
“That’s my problem! I can’t learn new things!”
If that’s the case, don’t worry. Learning how to learn is the first goal you’ll want to set.
You can do that quite readily by learning related skills that will increase your meta-learning intelligence.
For example, you can focus on how to:
- Read faster
- Use objective reasoning
- Practice reflective thinking
- Think more logically
- Improve your memory using a Memory Palace
The point is to be goal-oriented. Pick one goal at a time. Master it thoroughly.
This nuance really matters because when people fail to complete a learning project, their intelligence about how to learn is lacking.
But when you bolster up on how to learn, your intelligence can grow predictably.
What Increases IQ?
The big picture for some quick wins boils down to common sense.
- Regular exercise has been shown to boost your intelligence
- Meditation increases your attention span so you can learn more
- Sleep the appropriate number of hours
- Proper nutrition removes inflammation that creates brain fog
- Well-formed brain exercises increase cognitive reserve
- Learning a language boosts memory and multiple levels of intelligence
- Long term learning projects that don’t involve skimming or scanning
But the big kicker when it comes to how to improve your IQ is this:
Base your learning projects and goals on existing competence.
This is an idea I picked up from Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning which has an excellent section on how Freud’s “existing competence” enabled him to spot psychological trends in literature like Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
When you base your goals on what you are already capable of achieving, you can more readily move to the next level of difficulty. Let’s explore this point in greater detail.
Why Goals Based On Existing Competence Boost Intelligence
A lot of people want to shoot straight to the top. They want the Mensa membership without having to play the games and complete the puzzles.
Or they want the millions in sales commissions without learning how to make a dollar.
I’m sorry, but that’s not intelligence. That’s human vanity interfering with the smarts you need to succeed.
When you visualize clearly, however, you’ll look at the current situation and what your intelligence is like now.
Next, you’ll set a goal based on what your current intelligence can actually achieve.
Rest assured, everyone is smart enough right now to do this. Here’s a simple exercise that will help.
The Want Vs. Need Exercise
As we’ve already seen, it’s possible to increase your IQ because intelligence is simply defined as the ability to learn new things.
But that means we all need to continually improve how we learn.
In other words, we “want” better intelligence, but we need to improve how we learn.
On a sheet of paper, create two columns: The Want Column and the Need Column.
Next, write out all the things you want in life. For example, if you want to become a doctor, write that down under “want.”
Then, list what you need to do in order to achieve that goal. For example, you might list:
- Research medical schools
- Book an information interview with my doctor to ask about this career
- Watch videos about the learning journey
- Take qualifying example tests online
This exercise is a very simple way to calibrate your attention on exactly how to increase your intelligence in a specific field.
How To Increase Intelligence: 7 IQ Boosting Activities
Now that you know how to separate your wants from your needs, let’s look at additional activities you can start practicing today.
One: Boost Your Cardio
I try to get to the gym at least once a week. The benefits to intelligence are too large to miss.
As published in the journal Neuroscience, regular cardio exercise is incredibly important from cognition.
One study in particular found that exercise improves “synaptic plasticity and neuronal excitability.” In other words, your brain is like a garden and exercise makes your brain wake up like flowers opening to the sun.
Two: Meditate Daily
There are a lot of reasons to meditate, and reducing mind wandering is one of them.
As reported in Psychological Science, people prone to distraction are especially helped by even just a simple meditation practice.
One reason meditation works so well is because meditation increases memory capacity. Because meditation trains you to continually bring your awareness back to a basic level of consciousness, your procedural memory improves.
In other words, coming back to a state of focus becomes an autopilot procedure. That way you can learn a lot more, faster. Your intelligence will increase naturally as a result.
For more on both simple and robust meditation techniques, I suggest reading The Victorious Mind: How to Master Memory, Meditation and Mental Well-Being.
Three: Read In 90-Day Knowledge Missions
People get interested in topics, but then give up too easily.
But the trick to increasing your knowledge and ability to learn intelligently is persistence.
Rather than getting interested in reading just one book on a topic, you want to read several. That way you develop what is called “pattern recognition.”
So why 90-days of reading on a particular topic?
Well, a lot of numbers around positive habit formation get tossed around: 21 days, 66 days, etc.
But as Richard Wiseman reports based on research in his book 59 Seconds, 90 days is the closest number.
And if you commit yourself to 90-day reading missions, you’ll not only learn enough about a topic to legitimately know a decent amount about it. You’ll instill the habit of reading for depth.
As a result, you’ll develop more pattern recognition, spot more patterns and connect the dots in the future with much greater ease.
Four: Learn a Musical Instrument
Musicians enjoy many benefits.
For one thing, it’s been proven that they can pull details out of conversations better in noisy crowds. This finding probably relates to the pattern recognition benefits you’ll get from mission-oriented reading.
Music also helps with language acquisition because musicians become expert at handling a variety of sonic input sources. It’s like they can juggle sounds with their minds.
The best part? Musicians are able to speak a language of their own with other instrumentalists. That’s why I have always kept up my own musical abilities, and often take on 90-day music memorization challenges.
Five: Create New Things
I’ll never forget when my fellow memory expert Mark Channon told me about how his son created a game.
He went through everything from initial planning to product design.
Not only did this set the stage for learning about game design, but also enabled him to learn better during the second iteration.
Likewise when I write new books. Because the new goals I set are based on the existing competence I already have, I’m able to quickly discover industry practices, learn them and put them to use.
As reported by Science Daily, the brain literally changes itself as we create. The existing neural networks become stronger and new ones form.
Note: creating new things should not become a game of perfectionism. After all, perfectionists aren’t even perfect at being perfect.
Instead, like Mark’s son, understand that just about everything is in beta and you can always improve on the second iteration. Basic intelligence involves allowing yourself to make mistakes or miss critical details so that you can improve later.
Six: Explore Historical IQ-Boosting Practices
A lot of people think IQ began with Alfred Binet in the early 1900s. Although he might have designed the first IQ test, he was hardly the first person to think about how intelligence could be boosted.
For example, many people practiced Pythagoreanism and actively promoted intelligence-boosting activities. Although many of their practices were based around math, they debated, meditated and trained their memories.
Simonides of Ceos, another Greek, is considered one of the first teachers of memory techniques.
But it was Ramon Llull with his ars combinatoria that many people attribute to the early origins of formal logic. Llull’s influence on Leibniz, for example, is well known.
Later, in the 1600s, Giordano Bruno would revise ars combinatoria in a big way, and you can use a memory wheel in a simple way to think better:
There are many more thinking tools like this that will increase your intelligence if you explore them. What makes them stand out in my mind is that these tools help you think categorically and see the world as organized by genres of information.
By doing so, you rapidly help yourself reduce complexity and see the connections between things. You’re also able to mentally organize them in much more structured ways.
To learn more about such older techniques, I suggest you enrol in this:
Seven: Get Proper Brain Exercise
By proper brain exercise, I mean activities that you conduct in your brain, not with an app.
Or if you’re going to use an app, follow Dr. Christine Till’s research. As she found, people get barely any results from playing brain games unless they follow-up with a personal trainer.
What counts as proper brain exercise?
- It must incorporate new learning
- It must be reasonably complex with increasing challenges
- It must be varied and interesting
- It must be engaged in frequently
Here’s one such brain exercise you can try:
How to Improve Cognitive Function Over the Long Haul
The most important thing to realize is that keeping mentally sharp is a marathon, not a race.
It’s one you must be intimately involved in. No one can improve your intelligence for you.
And as I hope to have demonstrated, all you have to do is start by improving your ability to learn new things.
Everyone can work on this. In fact, doing so is the hallmark of intelligence.
This is the reason why people flock to know what intelligent people are reading. Reading is one of the major ways to develop and maintain your ability to learn.
As is persistence and taking steps to develop the mental strength we all need to be consistent. By focusing on both creating and completing goals, you will rapidly become smarter.
As I often like to say, S.M.A.R.T.E.R. = Serious, mature and ready to embrace reality. And the reality is, the world needs as many reality-embracing people as possible.
So what do you say?
Are you ready to increase your intelligence and join the ranks of those working to improve the world?