How to become more intelligent: Learn how to become smarter every day


Kevin Mangelschots

Let’s start with the unsettling fact that life is inherently unfair.

Let me give you a few popular examples. Some can eat everything in sight and remain skinny, while others get overweight just looking at food. Some are pretty, while others didn’t hit the genetic lottery looks-wise.

But, don’t despair. It’s possible to learn how to become smarter every day, at least partly. Although important to know that there are two forms of intelligence. Namely, fluid and crystallized intelligence. And the latter is an aspect we can influence for the better.

How to become smarter every day?

  • Lifelong learning mindset

    If we want to learn how to become smarter every day then we must learn to adopt a continuous improvement mindset.

    No matter how intelligent and wise you are, there are always new things to discover, do, and learn in life. Why? Because one lifespan is far too short to know it all. Not to mention that our brain capacity, for all its wonderful capabilities, is still limited.

    That’s why you should adopt a lifelong learning mindset to keep becoming smarter as you grow older. Most people tend to become complacent and lazy when they age, feeling like they deserve to take things easier due to what they’ve already been through and have endured in life.

    But when we become self-satisfied, things become stale and stagnant. Instead, if we keep applying ourselves, we constantly gain fresh opportunities to learn novel things and acquire new skills.

  • Practice critical thinking

    Practice critical thinking to weed out the lies, what’s wrong, and what’s bad, while simultaneously getting to know the objective truth. And while the truth may hurt at first, it will eventually set you free.

    Critical thinking is surprisingly hard since people are subjective, affected by biases, and are typically lazy, all the while tending to avoid hard work.

    But someone who can think critically for him/herself is a powerful individual that’s almost impossible to manipulate. Critical thinking is also a great antidote to groupthink behavior.

    It allows us to make the best possible decisions with the information at hand.

  • Be open-minded

    One of the most vital things to do to learn how to become intelligent is to remain open-minded to prevent closing your mind to new experiences and novel learning chances.

    Often, what is most valuable to us and what we should know in life lies in the unknown. If we’re close-minded and only stay in our safe bubble by merely doing what’s known to us, then we can’t learn new things.

    Life is complex, and there are oftentimes multiple ways of looking at and interpreting the world. That’s why we must remain broad-minded enough to consider different points of view. It’s also necessary to realize and admit that we might be wrong sometimes.

    Admitting when we’re wrong is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

  • Become more conscientious

    Image of a child writing “I must do my homework” multiple times on a blackboard with white chalk.

    One of the vital steps towards learning how to become smarter is increasing our conscientiousness. Becoming more conscientious means you’re diligent, hardworking, careful, and dedicated to your craft.

    If we want to succeed in life, then we must learn to become more conscientious by applying ourselves and programming ourselves with good macro and micro habits that enforce hard work.

    Conscientious people typically report a greater amount of subjective and objective success.

    Being intelligent is great, but another vector that we can influence for the better is becoming more hardworking by increasing our conscientiousness.

    This means that every one of us should learn how to apply ourselves optimally to get the most out of life.

  • Be humble

    Arrogance prevents us from learning new things. Because why would one actively search out new experiences to acquire new abilities if we go through life thinking we already know it all?

    Humbleness involves acknowledging what we know, but even more importantly, realizing and admitting how much we don’t know.

    Being humble will prevent you from becoming close-minded. And people who close off their minds to new experiences have effectively lost the ability to learn anything new.

  • Don’t be prejudiced

    Prejudice means one is biased from the very beginning. If we wish to become smarter, then we must aim to get as close to the objective truth as possible.

    Now, if we wish to get to the truth, then we must aim to discover facts by being objective and researching empirical evidence.

    Prejudice means we’re not being objective and that we’re starting with a lie and a false premise. That obviously will not lead us to walk the right path towards truth.

  • Avoid biases

    Illustration depicting what confirmation bias is.

    We should all attempt to avoid biases such as confirmation bias, prejudices, and recency bias.

    People tend to be biased. Confirmation bias is one of the most well-known and antagonistic ones concerning becoming smarter.

    Confirmation bias means that we’re actively searching out information that confirms our preexisting beliefs, while at the same time avoiding, and disregarding information that goes against our already established belief system.

    If we want to become smarter, then we must search out the truth and weed out the lies and wrongs in the information we have access to and, and in our current beliefs.

  • Establish good habits

    Beneficial habits such as working out multiple times a week, being disciplined, and eating good, healthy food work for us, while bad habits such as drinking too much alcohol, eating unhealthy, and watching TV multiple hours each day work against us.

    What we must realize is that we are the result of our habits and the decisions we make every day.

    We are like a machine that we must program fittingly to do our job properly. A machine must be used and maintained regularly to function smoothly. And the mind is no different.

  • Self-improvement mindset

    Two illustrations showing the difference between a continuous improvement mindset and a fixed mindset.

    The self-improvement mindset is closely related to the lifelong learning mindset.

    A self-improvement mindset means that one is constantly looking to improve themselves, both physically and mentally.

    Self-improvement is never over since we’re humans, and human beings are never perfect, nor can we ever know all there is to life. Our universe and existence are far too complex to accomplish that feat.

    But constantly improving yourself will result in a new and improved you. Not to mention that it will better your life, and that of those around you as a result.

  • Exercise

    Humans are made to move around. If we don’t, we become frail, and often chubby due to a lack of exercise and consequently, energy expenditure.

    Exercising is also important for a healthy, well-oxygenated brain. We need good aerobic conditioning because our brain needs to work for a long, continuous time each day.

    Furthermore, a good anaerobic shape is also required when we need to think intensely for a short burst to solve an urgent problem and to engage in overall problem-solving behavior.

    In short, the brain needs to be well-oxygenized in order to function properly and optimally.

    If we’re not in good cardiovascular shape, then our short and long-term memory will become impaired, which will impact our cognitive performance for the worse.

  • Get enough sleep

    Image of a woman dreaming while asleep.

    Sleep is one of the most critical aspects of functioning properly.

    Studies have shown that sleep-deprived people make worse decisions, suffer from cognitive impairment, and have less energy, which means less vigor to learn new things.

    Aim to get between 8-10 hours of sleep to be well-rested and to start your day off right. Of course, the amount of sleep that’s right for you can be a little different from your peers, so it’s up to you to experiment to find what the right amount of sleep is for you specifically.

  • Read

    Reading means we have access to someone else’s thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. It forces us to understand somebody else’s point of view and to comprehend all the new information at hand.

    This means we will learn a lot of new things. It’s also incredibly time efficient if we’re reading a book from a viable and reliable source since we don’t have to search out all the information ourselves since the writer has already done that hard work for us.

    If the writer is trustworthy, then we can typically rely on the fact that the information is reliable and objective.

    This means that reading books can be a quick way to acquire new knowledge.

  • Aim to understand

    The quote, “any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Written in white letters on a gray background. A quote by Albert Einstein.

    Aiming to understand is a general rule that we should always apply to learn new things in life.

    Instead of simply reading, seeing, or hearing something, aim to understand what is happening to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics and reasoning behind it.

    When we understand the mechanism that’s at work, then we can start to interlink between different topics and see how they are related and influence each other. Often, things truly are connected.

  • Aim at the truth

    Aiming at the truth is something that we should always be doing to live our lives as honestly, and forthrightly as possible.

    And while living in a fantasy and sweet little lie might be attractive at first, I still believe it’s a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later, that lie will collapse and what we’ve been avoiding will be laid bare for you, and everyone else, to see.

    Confront your lies as early on as possible, and get your act together to live a content and productive life.

  • Think of new ways to do old things

    Thinking of new, creative, and more effective ways to do old things is a great way to improve your life and efficiency in those things.

    It helps us to think flexibly instead of turning rigid with age. A flexible mind allows us to pivot quickly, which is needed because life is ever-changing and is never constant.

    Not to mention that it forces you to use your brain for higher executive functions such as problem-solving behavior instead of wasting it on instantaneous short-term gratification such as watching movies and YouTube clips.

  • Surround yourself with people smarter than you

    Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you are does a lot of positive things for you.

    It keeps you humble, prevents you from becoming arrogant, and forces you to be on edge and to give the best of yourself to be able to compete.

    Of course, you don’t want to be the least smart person in the room either, but surrounding yourself with a few people who are smarter than you is still wise in order to learn from them.

    If you’re constantly the smartest person in the room, then that just means that you need to find new groups of people to interact with.

  • Become disciplined

    Becoming disciplined is a requirement to become prosperous at whatever we decide to pursue. Be it becoming a good family member, a successful business person, or creating a powerful self-improvement mindset.

    We must learn to forego and delay the impulsive and immediate short-term gratification for a long-term, but much larger and more satisfying delayed gratification.

    This requires a great deal of discipline, since our desires incline to have a strong sway over us and typically scream to be satisfied.

  • Practice

    Use it or lose it, it’s that simple. The use it or lose it principle is a real phenomenon. And the words convey its meaning. What you use, you tend to keep, while what you don’t use, you’re more likely to lose.

    Remember that study material that you repeated and studied multiple times over the years? Chances are large that you remembered that information much better and for longer than if you would’ve only studied it once and then never touched it again.

    Practicing allows us to hone our skills. Humans must learn to put themselves well together. And that’s not something that’s easily attained. It requires hard work, the necessary smarts, and a lot of practice!

  • Become educated

    Picture of the word “education” being written with scrabble tiles on a table.

    Education is not the same as being intelligent. A lot of the extremely intelligent individuals didn’t receive a formal education or achieve a degree.

    However, education does provide a unique possibility to learn brand-new valuable skills such as critical thinking, discipline, teamwork, and searching out empirical, objective evidence.

    This will serve you well for the rest of your life. All these formerly mentioned abilities and many more are extremely useful to flourish in life.

  • Challenge yourself

    Challenging yourself is needed because it gives you an incentive to grow as an individual and to become more competent. If things are too easy, then why would you work hard and smart if you can succeed with much less effort?

    That’s not to say that things should be so difficult and overwhelming that you can’t succeed or that you’re too afraid to even attempt that challenge.

    But still, challenging yourself teaches you to be courageous, how to work hard and smart, and that good things often require patience and an incredible amount of hard work to acquire.

  • Write

    Writing forces us to think about what we’re penning down. This enforces critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

    This means that writing teaches us a lot of valuable skills such as critical thinking, a deeper understanding, and the patience to think about our thoughts and to articulate them into the world.

  • Teach and share information

    Teaching and sharing information is a great way to get smarter since you’re interacting with other people.

    Chances are that others want to chime in as well and share something valuable, or make a counterargument to the points you’re making.

    This means that if you manage to keep an open mind, you’ll learn all sorts of new things by listening to other people. It’s also a great way to test your arguments and your beliefs against other people and their point of view.

  • Eat clean

    Healthy lifestyle written on a green background with healthy foods beside it.

    Think of the body as a machine. A machine needs careful maintenance to prevent it from breaking down. Likewise, the body and brain both require healthy food to function well and to stay healthy.

    Eating unhealthy can lead to mood swings, depression, bad sleep, less focus, and many more negative things.

    Needless to say, all those things are detrimental to becoming smarter, since we require sleep and focus among many other things to learn new stuff.

  • Diversify your day

    Diversifying your days helps to make sure that you get a chance to learn new things on multiple fronts. This can enable you to become proficient in multiple areas of your life.

    That’s not to say that specializing is bad, on the contrary. But one must first get a good base of general knowledge and broad understanding before bunkering down and committing to one particular area to specialize in.

  • Apply your fantasy and creativity

    Your fantasy and creativity can be important tools to do things differently. It allows for free thinking and can serve as a pathway to do things in another more effective manner.

    They say that winners are dreamers who never give up, and this might exactly be the case. You need to dream big to achieve something of value. A goal worthy of your time and effort.

  • Socialize

    Image of the Friends cast sitting together.

    People are social animals. This means that we have to socialize with other people to stay healthy. If we don’t, then we will deteriorate mentally, and can even go insane in some extreme cases.

    Socializing means interacting with one another. And listening and speaking to each other can give us new, priceless information. It can also allow us to view life, and its many wonderful experiences, in a different light.

    Apply active listening skills in order to pick up all that new information, instead of simply waiting for your turn to speak to catch a spot in the limelight.

  • Make a to-do list

    Making a to-do list ensures that you’ve thought about your day, and your life and that you made a value judgment about what’s important to you and what you want to achieve in your life.

    It creates a visible and helpful tool that allows us to stay on track. It can make a tangible instrument to track our achievements, and if we are, and remain productive with our time.

  • Plan your days

    Goal, plan, action text on light box on desk table in home office. Business motivation or inspiration, performance of human concepts ideas.

    Planning your days means that you use that to-do list to create a plan that best suits your goals. It allows you to divide the time of the day the way you want it to.

    Planning your day is essential if we want to get work done without wasting countless hours. The larger and harder our personal goals are, the more we need to systematically plan our days.

    Especially if we consider the fact that some folks have kids, work, and sports to play in their free time. If we lead busy lives, then that simply means we need to plan and use our time more effectively.

  • Stimulate your brain

    Becoming smarter is all about stimulating your brain. It has been shown that getting too little stimuli when we’re a child leads to lower fluid intelligence. In other words, stimuli deprivation leads to becoming less intelligent.

    Again, the use it or lose it synaptic pruning principle allows us to maintain the skills that we use frequently. All the while making room for new, more essential skills for our survival by getting rid of the abilities we don’t use often.

  • De-stress often to prevent getting overwhelmed

    Being over-stressed can cause us to become less productive because we sleep less, have less energy, have more negative thoughts, procrastinate more, and so on.

    Things like video games, playing sports, and meditation can help us wind down after a stressful day or period.

    Video games typically get a bad rep, but there are multiple advantages to them as well. Video games usually demand problem-solving behavior, which means you have to flex your brain muscles to solve those hurdles.

    Thus, this means that video games can even help you to get smarter by applying these advantageous problem-solving traits!

How to become smart and clever?

Image of a smart woman writing instructions on a blackboard.

The two forms of intelligence are fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

  • Fluid intelligence

    Fluid intelligence is the capacity to think quickly, abstractly, and flexibly to solve complex problems and tasks at hand without relying on any past experiences or prior knowledge.

    It allows us to perceive and make connections between various things. It permits us to conceive abstract information to aid us when problem-solving. Fluid intelligence grants us the ability to understand and learn new things in life.

    Fluid intelligence doesn’t change all that much after late adulthood. On average, it’ll rise steadily until about our early to late 20s before slowly dropping again. This conveys that fluid intelligence tends to drop with age.

    This eventual decline in fluid intelligence might be because of the worsening of neurological functioning, or may also happen since some folks use their problem-solving abilities less and less with age.

    That’s precisely why it’s vital to remain active and to use our mental facilities. Just like, we continue to exercise and use our muscles to remain in good physical and mental health.

  • Crystallized intelligence

    Crystallized intelligence means the ability to use prior knowledge and skills that we’ve learned over time. It stands for the utilization of pre-existing skills and info. It ensues from an accumulation of knowledge and experience.

    Likewise, it involves remembering preceding abilities and information such as cognizing how to drive a car, how to utilize tools, and where to find new information to learn, among other things.

    Other popular illustrations of the utilization of crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension, remembering/recalling vocabulary, and being able to remember historical events and dates.

    All things considered, crystallized intelligence is a result of experience and comes into existence by applying our fluid intelligence.

    Just because someone is educated doesn’t necessarily mean you are smart either.

If we want to learn how to get smarter, then we must make it a point to increase and maximize our crystallized intelligence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does influence fluid intelligence negatively?

Sad thumbs down emoji.

Currently, it is impossible to raise fluid intelligence. It is unknown if this will ever be a possibility in the near, or not so-near, future. But, we do know what can lower our fluid intelligence during childhood that will persist in adulthood.

Stimuli deprivation

Having too little stimuli, either visually, physically, and/or auditory, will result in a lower fluid intelligence than if one would have access to the appropriate amount of inputs.

Stimulation excites the brain to create new neurological pathways that help to develop the brain. This increases our fluid intelligence, and our ability to engage in problem-solving behavior.

That’s why stimuli deprivation is one of the worst things one can do concerning developing one’s fluid intelligence, especially for a child’s still developing mental faculties that desperately need access to a large variety of inputs.

Food deprivation

Furthermore, food deprivation will lead to a lower IQ if prolonged. It means a child’s body can’t properly develop. And this includes the brain since this requires a massive amount of energy as well.

Since children develop so rapidly, it is paramount to have access to enough, good quality food to fuel the brain’s extensive energy demands.

Starvation has a definitive negative effect on the fluid intelligence of a person, especially if it occurs when the individual’s brain is still evolving.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can temporarily lower fluid IQ scores in adults by hurting cognitive performance.

This is because our brain is highly dependent on a good night’s sleep to function properly.

Try to get at least 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. If you’re a bad sleeper, try going to bed and waking up at a fixed time, and try reducing stress as much as possible.

Final note

Lessons Learned statement on paper note pad. Office desk with electronic devices and computer, wood table from above, concept image for blog title or header image. Aged vintage color look.

There are multiple tips and strategies for people to learn how to become clever in life. Knowing how to become smarter is about establishing good, purposeful habits that allow you to improve just a tiny bit each day.

And while raising our fluid intelligence isn’t possible, it is achievable to gain more crystallized intelligence and to become wiser by acquiring the ability to make better decisions.

Learning how to become more intelligent is all about programming yourself with good habits and establishing a growth mindset. Try to remain open-minded, always strive to do things better, and attempt to learn something new every day.

Call to action

“Take action” written with white chalk on a blackboard.

Try building good habits by progressively doing more things that are good for you and that help you to become smarter. Think of skills such as remaining open-minded, being humble, avoiding biases, and so on.

The main thing is to start small. Don’t try to build too many good habits at once, since it requires conscious thought and a lot of energy. Building one, or a few, good habits at a time prevents us from becoming overwhelmed, even if our intentions are good. Building beneficial habits is hard indeed.

It’s better to start by creating a few useful habits that aren’t too challenging but that you can persevere. This is more advantageous than trying to establish too many at once that you aren’t able to maintain over a prolonged period.