Very few of us would describe ourselves as being below-average intelligence, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t dreamed of being the smartest person in the room. Contrary to popular belief, intelligent, innovative people are not just born, but they can also be made. Indeed, even if your IQ seems to indicate that you’re quite average, there are ways that you can change that.
Becoming a genius, according to many experts, is not about magically increasing your IQ. Instead, it is about training yourself and your mind to approach problems differently. Over time, some experts feel that anyone can teach themselves to “think like a genius” by viewing the brain as a muscle that needs exercise and conditioning.
In the following article, we’re going to discuss how to become a genius. We’ll include some various tips, tricks, and techniques that virtually anyone can use. First, however, we’ll take a much closer look at what this (often overused) term means.
What Defines a Genius?
Ask different people what they think a genius is, and you might end up with a surprising variety of answers. What defines a genius to a mechanical engineer, for instance, might not be what defines a genius to a mechanic. The same goes for other professions, sports, and a wide range of activities where innovation is always possible.
There’s much more to being a genius than having a high IQ. Being a genius is more about what you do, how you do it, and your ability to create new, exciting concepts, ideas, or inventions. Where many people think being a genius is about knowing the answers, sometimes the genius is the one asking the questions.
It’s widely proposed that Einstein, the go-to genius of the past few generations, might have done poorly on IQ tests. Nevertheless, the curiosity of Einstein quite literally changed the world and scientific thinking in general. If you want to learn how to become a genius, the first step is to allow yourself to redefine what a genius is.
Can You Really Make Yourself Smarter?
The mind is a complex organ that even the most dedicated medical researchers are still only beginning to understand. That said, there seems to be clear scientific evidence that your level of intelligence is not static, but can change based on a variety of outer and inner factors. In short: yes, you can indeed make yourself smarter (if you’re willing to put in the work).
When it comes to achieving a genius-level intellect, one is not attempting to somehow magically raise their IQ (though this is possible as well). Instead, you are trying to increase the power of your mind by posing it new problems, being genuinely curious about the world, and committing to healthy activities that keep your mind clear and active.
Along with altering our definition of “genius,” we should also take the time to update our definition of “smart.” After all, what is a “smart” person but someone who is creative, curious, and has a unique approach to the problems they encounter? If you’re willing to follow the tips and techniques on this list, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
Ways to Become a Genius
Now that we’ve redefined what it is to be a genius, let’s take a look at some proven ways that you can support the growth and development of your mind. While many of the suggestions on this list may seem obvious or even completely unrelated to the topic, they are all about supporting the proper mental state for intellectual growth.
Start with Your Memory
One of the first places you need to start if you want to train your brain to perform at a higher capacity is with your memory. Our minds are quite literally absorbing information all day long, from facts and figures to advice and random input. However, you can’t use this information if you can’t adequately remember it – that’s why one of the first techniques you need to teach yourself is memory training.
There are dozens of ways to train your memory to be more effective, some of which will seem quite familiar to you from when you were a kid. Once your memory is in better shape, you’ll be shocked by how quickly you can put the other techniques on this list into effect. Below, we’ll list some games that you can play to begin exercising your memory right now.
The N-Game – This technique tasks you with keeping track of spoken words or locations, and identifying those locations whenever you hear that particular word. It’s like the “match game” from your childhood, but faster and more complex. You can find plenty of online versions with a simple Google search.
Crossword Puzzles – You know those people that can’t stop doing the crossword? They’re probably smarter than you (or at least have a better-trained memory). It turns out that daily tasks like the crossword are perfect for building a stronger memory, so taking the time to complete one once a day is like taking your brain to the gym for a workout.
Develop (and Respect) Your Process
Mental growth is a very personal thing. While it may seem like you should follow in the footsteps of the Stephen Hawkings and Albert Einsteins of the world, you’re much more likely to see improvement in your brain function if you take a “you do you” approach. Embracing this concept means developing a process that you feel works for you, sticking to it, and being mindful of your results.
The process we’re speaking of here is the deliberate daily practices that you put into effect with the intention of reaching a genius-level state of mind. Such activities include reading, playing chess, studying a language, watching a TED talk, or learning an instrument. The process is highly specific to you, your current abilities, and your desired skills.
To develop a process, begin by asking yourself why you want to become a genius? Is your goal to become a master of some sort of area of expertise? Do you want to be more innovative at work or in your home life? Do you want to become the best, brightest, or most accomplished at something? Your answer to these questions will help you determine what your process should include.
Begin Considering New Points of View
We all have those annoying friends who love to play devil’s advocate on Facebook and in conversations. It turns out, however, that your ability to consider new points of view is directly related to your emotional and intellectual intelligence. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to adopt every point of view you hear. However, the mere process of considering it can have beneficial effects.
When you hear other points of view on subjects, your brain instantly begins performing a series of tasks that you could accurately describe as “mental exercise.” First, it starts analyzing the new information to see if and how it conflicts with current data, and then it begins processing the logic and reasoning behind that information to understand how valid it is.
The most important thing that can come from this exercise, however, is that you can begin to eliminate the knee-jerk reaction many of us have when we hear information that conflicts with our views. Overcoming these reactions is key to developing both emotional intelligence and empathy.
Seek to Have Less Control (Not More)
If you ask people that claim to function at a “genius level,” the state of mind they’re in is more automatic than deliberate. A good example would be a master musician. Some of these men and women are so trained and so masterful, their brain and fingers seem to work together without their conscious involvement. Essential, it just flows from them.
Developing this type of “deep flow” should be your goal rather than seeking to control yourself of your environment at a heightened level. However, attaining this state of mind is not easy, which is where many of the other items on this list (meditation, memory, etc.) can be of assistance. Always remember, training yourself to be a genius is not about any single technique, but many working in concert.
Learn to Cultivate Motivation
If you want to achieve beyond your peers and competition, you need to learn to manufacture an incredible amount of motivation. Becoming a “genius” at something (or merely much better at everything) takes time, discipline, and endless hours of training and practice. To approach this towering to-do list every day, you’re going to need a lot of motivation.
Motivation, however, might be the biggest barrier to success among anyone who has ever attempted to achieve something. To find it, you’ll need to harness a complex array of emotions, memories, or feelings. While it’s preferred that these be positive things (inspiration, a will to succeed), it’s not uncommon for motivation to come from places like revenge or regret.
No matter where you find motivation, you have to nurture that feeling to that point that you’re willing to make sacrifices to attain your goals. Only at this point will your motivation become renewable – something you can cultivate at will.
Train Yourself to Read Between the Lines
There’s usually much more to verbal communication than meets the eye. Furthermore, there is almost always a way to innovate, improve, or enhance current concepts, ideas, inventions, or theories. The role of a genius is to see those ways where others do not, and this takes training.
Here is another situation where we need to tweak our idea of what a genius is and how they function. It’s not always about being the smartest person in the room or the one with the most in-depth knowledge of the subject. Indeed, sometimes it’s the opposite. In many cases, the genius is the one who can look at a problem and come up with a solution that no one has considered before.
To train yourself to do this, you – of course – need to introduce yourself to many different types of problems. A good practice would be to read about issues that are entirely out of your area of expertise. Once you have a “why don’t they just” moment, do some research to see just how valid your solution is.
When you find yourself continually innovating and coming up with good ideas (even if they don’t work), you can consider yourself to be in a state of genius. From here, you can begin applying yourself to fields in which you are successful. With any luck, you’ll be able to carry over that same passion and innovation.
Consider Increasing Cardio
Remember when we mentioned that many of the suggestions on this list would seem a bit out of place? Here is a great example. Regardless, studies reveal that regular cardiovascular workouts have to have a dramatic effect on long-term memory function and are directly associated with higher scores on cognitive tests.
While many of us associate geniuses with piles of dusty books and chalk covered walls, the truth is that a healthy heart and a healthy mind go together well. From running to cycling to jumping jacks, you should consider making cardio a part of your daily routine. Not only will your health improve dramatically, but you’ll find yourself thinking more clearly, remembering more effectively, and feeling much happier.
Spend Time Completely Outside Your Interests
Everyone has hobbies that bring them comfort and help them relax. Examples could include reading certain books, watching certain shows, or even eating certain foods. Still, one of the most commonly-associated characteristics of those on the path to becoming geniuses is that they spend a lot of time entirely outside their area of interest.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. After all, who hasn’t felt a special spark upon hearing a new type of music, eating a new type of food, or visiting a place that exposes you to a new culture or way of thinking? Why limit yourself to the familiar, when you can constantly be seeking out new, exciting stimuli for your brain.
From science and politics to culture and art, you’ll be amazed at what opening up your interests can do for your thinking. Love art? Take a physics class. Love video games? Listen to a podcast on politics or medicine. No matter what it is you do, step outside of your wheelhouse and let in new, exciting ideas, thoughts, and concepts.
Play Your Way to a Bigger Brain
Contrary to what many of us heard growing up, video games are associated with an increase in intelligence. In fact, video games can stimulate the growth of new neurons and help promote connectivity in the brain, particularly in regions associated with memory, strategy, and spatial orientation. On top of this, some studies found playing video games can decrease the mental effects of aging.
Now, this isn’t a suggestion for you to whittle away the hours slaughtering hordes of enemies in Call of Duty. Still, if you have a penchant for games that have a problem-solving or puzzle-solving element, or force your mind into understanding new, dynamic spaces, you would do well to consider adding video games to your daily genius routine.
Surround Yourself with People Better Than You
The brain loves a challenge. Unfortunately, most people do not. Not allowing ourselves to experience a mental challenge can result not only in our being lazy but in our brains being lazy as well. The solution is to surround yourself with people that are better than you at the things you want to be good at as well. While this may seem like a recipe for social awkwardness, it is actually a way to get your brain geared up for a challenge.
You don’t need to be endlessly competitive to learn how to appreciate a challenge. Instead, you only need to “trick” your brain into competing with those around you. No matter what skills you want to master, you can force your mind into paying more attention and absorbing more info if you surround yourself with people who are better, faster, and smarter than you.
Meditate More Often
Meditation is useful for a wide variety of things and has a very calming, centering effect on the mind. However, according to many neurologists, meditation can also significantly increase mental efficiency, improve the subject’s attention span, and – yes – have a positive effect on fluid intelligence. This fact makes meditation a great addition to any genius routine.
Luckily, you don’t have to be on top of a mountain or in complete silence to meditate properly. In fact, you only need about 20 minutes a day and a quiet place in your home. A quick search on YouTube will result in thousands of meditation guides. However, if that’s not your thing, you can try just clearing your mind and focusing on your breathing.
Learn to Nurture Your Curiosity
At the root of every discovery and every breakthrough lies a person who was curious enough to ask questions about the world around them. This type of curiosity is quite common in young children, but it tends to fade as we enter the adult world. This loss of curiosity is both natural and – thanks to increased responsibilities – completely understandable.
However, if you can learn to nurture your curiosity, you can dramatically affect your intelligence and your ability to solve problems. By “nurture” your curiosity, we simply mean going out, exploring your world, and trying as many new things as possible. Nature walks and hikes are excellent for this, as is travel, taking up scuba diving, or getting books about foreign cultures and lands.
It’s a big beautiful world out there, and there are plenty of things about which to be curious. Indeed, most scientific discoveries begin with a person asking “why” or “how.” Learn to harness the curiosity of a child, and the mind of a genius is well within reach.
The word “deadline” might be one of the most hated terms in all of the English language. Still, putting limits on yourself and learning to enforce them is an excellent way to develop a genius work ethic. This technique works because, while most people consider deadlines to be something fated to happen to them, productive, intelligent people think of them as stepping stones that encourage concise, dedicated work.
The point of deadlines is to provide a guide for a project. When you approach a deadline, you know it’s proper to move on to the next step. If you create the right conditions, set goals, and follow your strategy when it comes to whatever you’re working on, the deadline shouldn’t be anything to fear but something to which you can look forward.
This type of altered thinking is paramount when it comes to becoming a genius, and it’s effortless to practice.
Do As Much as You Can
All the reading, studying, and lab tests in the world can’t possibly compete with doing something. Indeed, many experts consider “doing” something to be the only reliable way to learn it – failures and all. While gathering information certainly has a purpose when it comes to learning a new skill or investigating any sort of phenomenon, it’s hardly comparable to practice.
The rule of thumb is to spend about one-third of your time studying something (music theory, botany, etc.) and the remaining two-thirds of your time doing it. As the old adage goes, one who makes real mistakes is more likely to learn a lesson than one who reads about mistakes others made. If you really want to develop a genius approach to your life, study less, and do more.
Learn New Ways to Exercise Your Mind
There are many ways that you can provide your brain with exercise, thus preparing it to take on new roles or master new tasks. Some of these are already on this list. The ones we’re going to discuss here are much more in-depth and much more abstract in purpose. Think of them as the weights that your brain needs to lift to stay in shape.
Contour drawing is an exercise in which you draw an object (an image from a magazine or poster). Instead of looking at what you’re drawing, however, you look only at the object. Follow every single line and curve of the object and allow your hand to duplicate it as you perceive it. This type of exercise won’t result in great art, but it will help hone your observational skills.
Allow Absurd Ideas to Thrive
Some very bright scientists have posited that identifying the most radical and absurd solution to a problem can help you make progress in trying to solve it. To do this, generate a list of insane solutions to problems. Selecting one, try to identify the most basic premise of the solution. What does it assume? From here, dissect the idea into parts and use those to generate a more practical solution.
You can define frames as the standard ways that we as humans perceive information – particularly new information. The goal of frameshifting exercises is to apply a new methodology to well-established ideas. You can do this for a variety of subjects, using observation and then trying to “abstract” your thoughts to apply those observations to new rules.
In the end, you imagine how you can approach a problem unexpectedly. For first-timers, this type of exercise is best done in a group. When you work with others, they can help you do a better job of shifting your thought process.
Sleep Often (and Record Your Dreams)
Geniuses come in all forms and types, but one of the things that most of them have in common is an appreciation for giving their minds proper rest. Indeed, many of the world’s most famous intellectuals were prone to taking naps in the middle of their word days. Though this may seem contrary to the idea of the zany scientist working through the night, there are noted benefits to proper rest.
Aside from providing your brain with a well-needed rest, sleeping is one of the most common ways (the others being meditation and hypnosis) that we can tap into our subconscious mind. It’s no secret that our dreams often reflect what’s going on in our lives. Well, in some cases, dreams can open us up to abstract thinking, allowing us to come up with solutions for all manner of problems.
Clearly, there are many methods that you can use to become a genius. What’s more important, however, is that you understand that being a genius does not mean solving chalkboards full of algebra equations or discovering the cure for cancer. Instead, being a genius simply means being an innovator, a self-starter, and – most importantly – someone who is curious about the world around them.
No doubt, many of these instructions on how to become a genius will prove useful in all sorts of endeavors. No matter your goal, however, remember to push yourself and never to stop being curious.