How to get smart: In 5 easy steps

Learn how to get smart in 6 easy steps.  You are not born smart, you can grow your intelligence and mental capacity if you consistently work on these simple habits of smart people.

I have to take a moment to explain.  I was number 7 out of my high school graduating class of over one thousand students.  And I consistently threw the curve in my college classes, to the point where my professors had to take my scores out so other students weren’t consistently failing.  

I’ve grown up receiving tons of praise for my ability to recall rote knowledge, my wide vocabulary, and my deep understanding of fundamentals like classic literature, biology, physics, and statistics.  

But, all that humble bragging aside, I did not learn to read until fourth grade.  For those who don’t know, most kids are reading prior to kindergarten now.  But I was 5 years later than that, not the normal trajectory for the “smartest” kid in the class.

how to get smart

In fact, in third grade I was in lowest reading group.  And just one year later, in fourth grade, I was reading so beyond my peers, that I didn’t even participate in a reading group.  I was just left in the corner with one of my novels, or helping some of the other students with their books.

I include this story, because most people assume I have always been “smart.”  And that it is something you are just born with.  But I really don’t think this is that case.  I seriously struggled throughout elementary school to learn to read.  Even with incredible support from home.  My parents had been reading to me before bed every night, I was infatuated with books, but still couldn’t grasp the whole reading thing.

Improve your Intelligence

So I believe you can absolutely improve your intelligence and become a smarter, more capable person.  There are so many factors that contribute to knowledge and being “smart.”  

Some have common sense and street experience, where others have a deep understanding of scholarly topics.  But the best is to have a solid blend of both, by using your worldly experience, and backing them up with knowledge.  

Below are the daily habits I use to build my mind and keep it strong.  These are habits I’ve developed over my entire life, so don’t feel like you need to immediately start doing these.  Instead, find ways to build them organically into your lifestyle.

Step 1: Read Everything.

Read everything, all the time.  I’m not kidding when I say this.  Even when we’re driving down the freeway, I can’t stop myself from reading every sign, billboard, poster, and ad.  It may seem crazy or overkill, but my eyes just go there without my telling them too.  But you never know when reading that random construction sign, could help you make a better decision later on down the freeway.  

This is definitely one of the biggest reasons I have such a wide breadth of knowledge, I am constantly reading everything. From fiction, to nonfiction, to news articles, research articles, directions, and the back of packages. 

You never know what’s out there, what’s new, or what will change your mind. This is also the best way to improve your vocabulary. Constantly exposing yourself to new words and new turns of phrase means you have more fodder for your own speech.

Step 2: Use your Vocabulary

Once you start reading more, you’ll start picking up more words.  Just make sure you’re using them correctly, and look up definitions and pronunciations if its new.  Having and using a big vocabulary will make you seem smarter. Using words like pergola, may seem dumb and unnecessary to some, but I think this is one of the keys to being “smart.” 

Having the specific definable words that mean exactly what you are trying to say help you get your point across, ensure accuracy, and eliminate miscommunication. Having the perfect word for what you are trying to describe is one of the best feelings.  You’ll be surprised what new words you’ll pick up and love to use.  And the best part is when it starts to rub off on your loved ones, and they use a big word you’ve never heard them use before, simply from your exposure.

Step 3: Write as much as Possible

Shockingly, I write more than I read.  Learning new words is only good if you can use them.  Writing frequently, of all types, hones my communication skills.  It makes me choose my words properly and force me to consider the way I communicate. 

Am I using too many words and causing confusion, or am I not using enough words and leaving things too vague?  Writing and editing your words will show you where you could improve.  

And it ensures you are communicating your ideas the best way possible.  And no matter what, if you can communicate effectively, you’ll definitely seem “smarter” to those around you.

Step 4: Answer your own Questions

Living in the Information Age means that not knowing something is no longer an excuse. You have every piece of information you could possibly need at your fingertips. If you have a question or curiosity, don’t wait, find that information you need. So many ask these interesting questions, but they are fleeting and never dive deeper to find an answer. 

Don’t let those moments of curious inspiration pass you by. You might find something that sparks another question or even a new idea for something. The best thing you can do is expose yourself to as much knowledge and information as you possibly can. This world is absolutely unlimited, there are bound to be things that interest you out there. I am endlessly curious, I even refer to myself as a cat, I have to know. 

If I have a question, I will not stop until I not only find the answer, but become a mini expert on the topic so I can explain it to others. I am an eternal student, and constantly seeking out new information, to either back up my existing concepts, or modify them to be better or based on new information.

Step 5: Keep an Open Mind

And the final key to improving your intelligence and being smart, is keeping an open mind.  More importantly, be willing to reconsider or change your mind and opinion.

Very few things in our world are proven and defined, and so many times we learn new information that changes or contradicts our previously held opinions.  

But even the smartest, most intelligent person could be wrong at any time.  We must constantly seek out new and updated information so that we can evaluate our current opinions in light of that new data.

how to get smart

There are very few opinions in this world that cannot be honed, specified, or improved with discussion and additional knowledge.  Never be so set in  your ways that you can’t consider other options or other solutions.  The ideologue is just as dangerous as the uninformed.  

I hope you can implement these easy steps into your life and start to build your intellectual confidence.  Remember a lot of “being smart,” is coming off as smart to those around you.  Make sure you communicate well, with specific words, seek out new information, and be willing to refine or reconsider your existing opinions.