18 Tiny Tricks That Can Make You Smarter
From snacks to types of coworkers, these bizarre things can help boost brainpower, increase creative thinking, and improve decision making.
A caustic coworker could improve your creativity. Participants solved problems after hearing sarcastic phrases, like an insincere “I am sorry,” in a study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. They were three times more creative than a group hearing sincere messages. Sarcasm forces the brain to think abstractly, boosting innovation. These quirky habits prove that you’re smarter than everyone else.
An attitude of gratitude may help you avoid impulsive choices. People did a short psychological exercise designed to elicit various emotions, then participated in a test of monetary self-restraint. Those who were grateful showed more financial patience. For example, non-grateful people needed only $18 now to give up receiving $100 in a year; grateful people required nearly twice as much money ($30).
A ‘clean’ diet
Avoiding certain processed foods may boost your brainpower. A known heart threat, trans fat (found in foods like margarine and cookies) may also mess with memory. In a study presented at an American Heart Association meeting, researchers evaluated the trans fat consumption of about 1,000 healthy men and gave them memory tests. Each additional gram of trans fat eaten per day was linked to poorer performance on the test. These are brainy habits of the wisest people.
Spending time with your grandkids
Spending the right amount of time caring for grandchildren can keep the mind sharp, according to an Australian study of 186 older women. Grandmothers who watched their grandchildren one day a week did better on cognitive tests than those who cared for grandchildren more often or not at all. Though the exact reason is unclear, researchers will continue to study how social engagement affects elder acuity.
Your cell phone
Having your cell phone nearby may help you think clearly. In a new study, iPhone users, ages 18 to 24, completed two word-search puzzles. Midway through, they placed their phones in the corner of the room. When phones were nearby, volunteers found an average of nine words, but participants found only six when phones were across the room. People separated from their phones reported increased anxiety and higher blood pressure. Researchers suggest keeping your phone nearby (but muted) if you have trouble focusing without it. Try these weird brain exercises that will help you get smarter.
Keeping a to do list
Your happiness and confidence levels can help to increase your intelligence. By making a to do list and checking things off once you complete them you’re getting smarter. Seeing everything that you accomplished for the day helps to boost your confidence and happiness.
Trying new things
Even if it seems like a random activity that isn’t going to benefit you, the skills you learn might apply to your everyday life later down the line. If you’re given an opportunity to learn a new skill or try something random, always take it. Doing this one simple thing will help you brain crave better habits.
Taking down time
Taking down time after a long day to reflect on everything you learned can help you get smarter. It will help you to de-stress and increase mental stimulation. Just think for ten minutes, see where your brain takes you. This 10-minute daily habit will make you smarter overnight.
Use brighter light
It’s true! Bumping up your smartness factor can be as simple as turning on the lights. In a recent study from Michigan State University, rodents exposed to bright lights showed significant improvement on tasks, while those exposed to dim lights lost 30 percent of capacity in the hippocampus, a brain region for learning and memory. “Many people don’t realize the actual physical impact that light can have on their bodies,” says Ute Besenecker, PhD, Director of HealthE Lighting, Senior Scientist, Lighting Science Group, maker of the GoodDay and GoodNight bulbs. “By exposing yourself to specific lighting spectrums you can actually enhance your mental alertness, focus, and cognitive performance.” Here are more ways to get smarter in your spare time.
Look at nature
Is nature your brain’s miracle medicine? It just might be, according to research that shows getting out in nature can improve creative problem-solving by as much as 50 percent. “Our research has shown that being in nature restores depleted attention circuits, which improves our ability to be creative and solve problems,” says study author David Strayer, PhD, professor of cognition and neuroscience at the University of Utah. “It allows the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain that is really important for critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making, strategic planning, and impulse control—to rest.” Even if you don’t have time to go outside, another study showed simply gazing at pictures of nature boosted attention span and the ability to complete tasks without error. Take a walk in the park on your lunch hour, or even just look out the window.