For many centuries, it was believed that you’re either blessed with a certain talent or you’re not. People believed you’re born with a given level of intelligence, and the best thing you could do is to try to live up to that potential.
However, science has recently revealed we can actually increase our potential while having fun in the process! Now we’re aware that by learning new skills our brain is stimulated to build new neural pathways that make it function better and faster.
Without further ado, here’s a list of 7 hobbies that increase your IQ, according to science:
1. Playing a musical instrument
According to a research, playing an instrument increases gray matter volume and makes neural connections between the two brain hemispheres. As a result, scientists claim that early musical training allows people to be better at linear math work and mathematical problem-solving. In addition, this hobby increases your imagination, observatory power, communication etc.
Some people argue that participating in team sports has just as much effect on your brain. But, the one part where this activity surpasses all others is: it strengthens the corpus callosum which connects the hemispheres of our brain. In turn, this improves our memory, executive skills, and overall brain function.
2. Reading anything
Whether you’re an avid fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series, The Lord of the Rings, or the Wall Street Journal, the benefits of reading are the same. It helps you calm your nerves and increases the three types of intelligence – crystalized, fluid and emotional.
It helps you with putting different pieces of information together, navigating better through everyday life, recognizing patterns and responding to other people’s feelings. In the professional world, this translates into having better managerial skills as an HR.
3. Regular exercise
Exercising once in a while won’t do the trick. Therefore if you want to become smarter, regular exercise is crucial. You don’t have to work out strenuously every day. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day, do it. When you are exercising regularly, your cells are flooded with BDNF, a protein which improves your memory, concentration, and understanding.
Scientists believe that sitting down for prolonged periods of time does more harm than good. It can actually prevent your brain from functioning as well as it could.
4. Learning a new language
Instead of spending your day on solving sudoku to keep your mind sharp, devote yourself to learning a new language instead. According to some studies, people who speak more language are better at solving puzzles than those who speak only one language. Learning new languages allows your brain to better perform tasks such as planning and problem-solving.
Furthermore, this can also help your resume. Nowadays, many jobs require us to know other languages apart from our native language. So, this is a win-win situation.
5. Testing your cumulative learning
Most of us are guilty of cramming several hours before our final exams and seemingly mastering the topic on the day of the big test. However, the trouble with this is that we forget this information soon enough since we don’t really need it or use it anymore.
Another reason why studying another language makes you smarter is the fact that it requires cumulative learning. You learn grammar and vocabulary and repeat them countless times in order to retain that knowledge. Therefore, if you apply this concept in your everyday life and workplace, it will benefit you significantly. You can simply keep a small journal to write down anything that’s important and go through these bits of information in your free time.
6. Working out your brain
Any activities that keep your mind sharp such as mystery games, riddles, crosswords, video games etc. increase neuroplasticity. In other words, this allows your brain to reorganize itself. If nerve cells respond in different ways, this will help us see things from different points of view and understand the relationship between emotions and behaviors. It’s also beneficial for improving our cognitive abilities.
Since neuroplasticity is involved in impairments such as tinnitus, it can even help us defeat conditions like anxiety and depression.
In 2004, the Wall Street Journal published “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, a research of scientist Richard Davidson which focused on an experiment he did on the Dalai Lama and his fellow monks. His goal was to test if certain brain waves can be generated on command. And as it turned out, when Dalai Lama and the monks were told to meditate and concentrate on compassion, Davidson found all of them in a deeply compassionate state of mind.
The biggest asset of meditation is learning how to manipulate your emotions. You can re-wire your brain, call any feeling to action when you need it. It can make you stronger.
Now that you’ve seen how all these hobbies can keep your brain wonderfully healthy, it’s up you to incorporate them into your daily life. Just think about it. If you do, you can become an even better version of yourself!