Sunday, 31 August 2014

How To Become Smarter

I'll admit it.  I want to be surrounded by less stupid people.  Criticize my bluntness if you want, but you probably agree.

I'm not helping things by only saying that I wish there were less stupid people.  In fact, this goes without saying, since we all are "stupid people" at times.  So I've decided to put together a guide to help people become smarter.  You're welcome.

One thing smart people do is not put in any unnecessary work.  Before I began to write this I did a quick Google search to see if there were any all encompassing articles that said exactly what I wanted to say.  Although I did find a few good articles with many good points, I did not find the one that covered what I wanted to, and thus I wonder if their writers were as smart as me, or if I am actually stupid for thinking I know more than them.

Here's a couple of good helpful pages that showed up near the top of my Google search that will help you become smarter:

There's a good chance if you took a brief look at pages such as these, you go, "I already know all that!"  To this I would say, "okay then, why aren't you becoming any smarter then?"

This guide will be more about getting one's brain into the frame of mind to make smarter decisions than the actual smarter decisions themselves.  Yes, smart people read books.  But maybe this is because this is because they are already smart due to past right decisions.  How do we become smart like that?

I want you to think about your day to day routine.  Be honest.  I especially want you to evaluate what you do with your free time.  After all, this will be the easiest time to use to increase your smartness.


How much sleep are you getting on a regular basis?  So many of life's problems boil down to this one simple question.  Are you sick a lot?  Are you constantly tired?  Did you plan to do so many awesome things, including things to get smarter, and end up not doing anything because you felt lazy and unmotivated?  Have you tried sleep?

With a well rested mind you will find yourself behaving more efficiently during the day and making better choices.  Quite often it's worth sacrificing two hours of activity for two hours of sleep.  After all, when you are honest with yourself, how often do long periods of free time go down the drain doing unproductive things because you felt too tired to accomplish something productive?

A habit I've gotten into is asking myself at the end of certain days, "do I have the physical and mental energy to complete anything productive?"  If the answer is no, the follow-up statement would be, "okay, now would be a good time to call it a day and head to bed."

Long Winded Winding Down

"I would go to bed," you say, "but I'm all wound up because of my day and I need to unwind first."
Okay, so what do you do to unwind?  Do you start watching TV and YouTube, and then after watching it say, "one more episode can't hurt."  Do you start playing video games and think, "just one more try," and repeat this phrase forty-seven times?  Sleep is important, and so often we try to ready ourselves to sleep by unwinding, and through unwinding we lose out in useful hours of sleep.

Evaluate the pattern in your life - is your unwinding period effective?  If not, may I suggest doing something differently?  Try reading a book.  Not a book that is super interesting and will keep you up turning pages.  Try reading an educational, boring book.  One that would put you to sleep just as reliably as your old university professor.

"I can't go to sleep now, I have a wife and kids and pets to take care of."

I am not in this boat and never have been, and so correct me if I'm wrong in the following.

If you have kids, don't just supervise them, be active in their lives.  Chances are if you are wanting to become smarter, you are wanting them to become smarter too, and you have many ways in which you can teach them to do so.  If your kids are doing an important activity, can you be involved in it?  You don't have to do their homework for them, but you can make it easier for them to do their homework.  You don't have to be good at a sport or video game to participate in their favourite past-time.

Don't just watch a TV show with your spouse.  Talk to them.  Ask them how their day was.  Let them ramble on about things that are probably unimportant in the long run.  In this way - simply venting - both you and your spouse can effectively unwind.

Play with your pet.  Spend your unwinding time training them.  Teach them to do useful things such as going to the bathroom in the right times and places.  After all, pets are a big reason many people lose out on sleep.  Take your dog for an evening stroll.   After all, exercise definitely helps one become smarter.  How?  Because science, that's how.

Eating Smarties Doesn't Make You Smarter

Perhaps sleeping is something you have no problem with.  Perhaps you sleep a lot.  Perhaps you sleep too much.  Perhaps you take naps to recover from the long periods of sleeping you took part in.  Perhaps you feel lazy and unmotivated to do things that will make you smarter despite the fact that you get your share of sleep.

How well do you eat?  If I were to hazard a guess, I would say there is significantly more information out there on how to eat better than how to become smarter, and so I won't spend a lot of time on this point.

You already know how well (or unwell) you eat.  You probably already know it's healthier to drink water than pop.  Because you're smart.  Sort of.  You still drink pop anyway, don't you?

I can relate.  I might not drink pop on a regular basis, but in general I don't eat as healthy as I should.  The healthy food is the time consuming, more expensive stuff.  Guess what, becoming smarter is a lot more difficult than making sure you go to bed on time.  Deal with it.  It's worth it.

Deal With It

Deal with your smoking problem.  Stop it.  You're killing brain cells.  You can't become smarter that way.

Deal with your drinking problem.  Stop it.  You're killing brain cells.  You can't become smarter that way.

Oh, did I cross some sort of line?  Are you now thinking that it's worth it to not be so smart if it means you can enjoy intoxicating your body from time to time?  Don't be stupid.  It's not worth it.  Smart people are having a better time in their lives because they aren't haunted by as much past stupid mistakes.

Surround Yourself With Smart People

Look at your friends.  Look at the people you spend a large portion of your free time around.  Without telling them your answer if it's "no," would you consider them to be smart?

"Everyone is smart in their own way."  Very good.  Give yourself a cookie.  Oh wait, you can't afford one because you already maxed out your credit card.  Smart.

Just like some people are naturally more big-boned than others, some people are naturally more mentally adept (that means smarter, for those of you who aren't mentally adept) than others, and this isn't a bad thing.  What is a bad thing is to give in to your weaknesses just because self-improvement is hard; it's okay to have a different mind or body shape than other people, but it's not okay to use this as an excuse to allow your body to fall into a less-desirable state when you have the power to change it.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  Surround yourselves with people who are constantly looking for ways to learn and grow.  They may not be book smart, but they should have the desire to get smarter.

In addition to this, keep in mind who you are consulting as experts to speak into your life.  Do the people you are looking to for relationship advice have track records for healthy relationships?  Are the ones you are looking to for financial advice in a good, secure spot financially themselves?

Are you listening to people's advice because they are famous or they have a strong relationship with you, or are you listening to their advice because they have proved themselves to be well-learned in this area?

Who are you listening to advice when it comes to which world view to believe?  Are they a biased person?  Using your other smarts, can you see if they are building their statements on solid facts rather than on opinion?

How To Become Wise

"Ooh boy, there's a section here that shows us how to become not only smart, but wise?"  Yep.  There's a chance you're not going to like it, but because I want to be surrounded by wise people I'm going to go ahead and spill it anyway.

Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

You can become smart by gaining knowledge and understanding in specific areas.  Wisdom is about more than gaining IQ points.  It's about gaining a mindset, a perspective through which you will be able tackle every single problem in life.  It's about understanding the basics so that even if one doesn't have the ability to understand "how" something works, they can understand the "why."

As soon as you input God into the picture, you have a reason to get smarter greater than your own goals or the goals of those around you.

When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is in Matthew 22, he responds with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  Although it isn't the central theme of this statement, I have no problem using it to support that God cares about the state of our mind.  He cares about how much we know.

2 Peter 1:5 - For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.

I love you guys.  I want you to be both smarter and wiser.  Even if you reject my God/Bible related claims, I hope that you'll heed the advice given in the earlier portion of this article.  Who knows, perhaps after you get smarter you will see the truth in my claims about God.

I'll leave you now so I can go look up the word "humble."  Smart people learn new words, and I've always wondered what this word meant.