The internet makes it easy to find out about crazy talented people doing amazing stuff. This means the internet also makes it easy to come up with reasons to feel bad about ourselves. Fortunately, the disease cures the disease. Despite what you’re reactionary uncle says, the internet can make you smarter — if you know how to do online education right.
IQ tests, especially ones conducted online, probably aren’t all that reliable at measuring such a subjective thing like intelligence, but we’ve all been in a scenario where we feel incapable of coming up with an answer to a simple problem, such as calculating a tip, spelling words, remembering past events, or efficiently packing a car full of stuff.
Everything in life requires training, and your brain’s intelligence is no exception. So here are 20 ways to increase your intelligence through daily brain exercise.
20. Google Everything
The beauty of the internet is answers to all your burning questions are right at your fingertips, use it. Next time you have a thought on the tip of your tounge and it’s just not complete, don’t be afraid — Google it. A 2011 study found our brains themselves are being rewired to depend on the internet anyway, so… rely on it rather than fight it.
Next time you’re writing and catch yourself over using a word, just look it up on Theseaurus.com for an alternative. Your vocabulary will naturally expand this way, and you’ll feel as smart as you sound on paper.
Instead of browsing Facebook for an hour looking at cat videos, bitterly cursing your ex, or getting into political debates, use that time to get lost in Wikipedia. No, it’s not 100 percent reliable, but it gets the big stuff right. Also, allowing yourself to click through the endless supply of links will lead you down a fascinatingly informative rabbit hole.
17. Pencil & Paper
Our brains were not meant for memory storage — it’s a limited bank. So, get your thoughts out with a pencil and paper. The dexterity of physically writing will help your hand-eye coordination. It’s also calming, and been shown to help improve cognitive ability by aligning your left and right brain.
Of course the dictionary is a great place to get definitions, but next time pay attention to all the extra symbols on the page. Looking up the origin, listening to how it’s pronounced, and learning the various sentence uses will help orient the information in your brain longer than looking it up once.
This smartphone game helps you connect the dots — literally. It’s a great puzzle game that stimulates the problem solving section of your brain and will make you more equipped and alert to take on the day’s challenges.
Americans still lag behind the rest of the world in math and science, but by now most people don’t need to know complicated calculus, just enough to calculate a bill or make change. If you don’t exercise that math portion of your brain, it goes away (trust me - I know from experience). So, there are several numbers-based games that can help stimulate that brain. Threes is a good example. Players simply combine multiples of threes and try to keep the board clear.
The over hyped craze for 2048 has died down but it’s still pretty fun. You just combine like numbers to double the amount and, again, keep the board clear. Even if you’re not inclined towards numbers, there’s a real strategy and board placement side to one as well.
14. Monument Valley
This is another mobile puzzle game that, besides being really gorgeous, is a great way to trick your brain and get it thinking outside the comfort zone. It uses optical illusions and relative positioning to move the cone-headed character from point A to point B.
11. Physical Reading Materials
Get off the internet, stop staring at a screen for a bit and read something that’s in real physical space. It can be a magazine, a comic book, a novel, a newspaper, or an old journal. Just give those tired eyes a rest.
10. Crossword Puzzles
It’s a cliche, but crossword puzzles can really help build intelligence. It’s so hard in the beginning because there’s a high barrier for entry, but force yourself to push through the struggle and you’ll be better for it. Just don’t go comparing yourself to others, because a studies have shown some people are just naturally better.
9. Multiplication Tables
Just do them before you go to bed, or when your phone dies on your commute. It’s a good way to pass the time and stay sharp.
8. Photo Math Camera
If you’re still in school and have to solve those more complicated equations, there’s an app that can help. Photo Math Camera Calculator scans the equation from your paper and gives you an answer. Just be sure to actually learn how it was able to arrive at that conclusion. In fact, reverse engineering is a skill all its own. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone.
7. Brain Training Apps
There are a plethora of general knowledge brain training apps. While they aren’t going to teach you to be an engineer, they will stimulate the brain. The top rated ones are fairly consistently Luminosity, Elevate, and Peak.
This OG strategy game is still good at stimulating that problem solving section of your brain. Don’t play it on your phone, though. Get some friends, family, or strangers together and play for real.
5. Strategy Board Games
We’re still in the midst of a board game craze. From Settlers of Catan to Ticket To Ride, there are a lot of fun games to check out and play with friends.
4. Strategy Video Games
Somewhat of an introvert? That’s OK, strategy video games allow you to get all that same stimulating board game experience, but in a virtual world. The Civilization series tops most people’s lists when it comes to this genre.
3. Schedule Your Day
Bullet Journals are getting popular online and are a great way to get your life in order. Essentially, it’s a short-hand form of note taking that makes organization effortless, artistic and meditative.
2. Get Artistic
You probably won’t be the next Picasso, but doodling can go a long way towards stimulating creativity. Even if it’s not on physical paper, using an iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface to paint is an undervalued activity, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t consider themselves a good drawer. Just challenge yourself with something new.
1. Play an Instrument
Have an old guitar laying around, or a violin from high school gathering dust? Pick it up and learn to play again. Sure, it will be frustrating at first, but you’re not trying to sell out stadiums here. Just stay loose and have fun.