In general, people consider intelligence to be a highly desirable trait. Some people can be seen as more ‘smart’ due to their everyday habits and conscientious attitude. Here are 6 tips for more intelligent thinking.
1. Learn from your mistakes
Everything we do, from our first breath to the moment in which we die, is a matter of trial and error. A baby cannot learn to walk without falling down first, and we cannot do better at work if we don’t know what to improve. Errors are actually how the brain learns; when we make decisions, neurons are activated, and if these decisions turn out to be wrong, the activated neurons are subsequently suppressed . Smart people reflect on these errors, and work to ensure that they do not happen again – it just takes a smart person to realize when a decision is wrong.
2. Re-evaluate your views
The greatest minds of all time have re-evaluated their initial theories. When we think of intelligent, famous people, scientists usually come to mind – because scientists have to adapt to the constant stream of new discoveries influencing their life’s work. Take Einstein, who altered his theory of general relativity, and famously said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. The same can be said for Stephen Hawking, who initially thought nothing can escape a black hole, but later published work contradicting his original theory. Train your brain to adapt to new situations and information – you will only get smarter with time.
3. Recover from failures
The most intelligent of people make mistakes – renowned filmmakers release box office flops, and manufactures put products on the market which fail. It may feel humiliating and unpleasant when an idea which you think is genius is unsuccessful, but this happens to the best of us.
Without failure, the successes would not be so exhilarating. Famous and successful people who experienced obstacles include Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, whose second book was rejected by 36 publishers, as well as J.K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter books were rejected 12 times before she became one of the most successful authors of all time. If Huffington and Rowling didn’t push so hard, they never would have achieved the success they have today.
4. Make your own luck
Nobody achieved anything monumental just waiting for it to happen. Making smart decisions takes effort – you need to read, do your research, and work to achieve your goals. When you pour your heart and soul into a project, you know that it is your hard work which gets you to the finish line, and not simply because the stars aligned. What’s more, working hard and making your own success is the key secret to hapiness, as a series of studies by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found . Nelson Mandela once said that “the greatest glory in living life is not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall”.
5. Push for what you believe in
A smart person knows when to push for what they believe in and stick to it, even if the situation takes a turn for the worst. Intelligent people are like rubber bands – anything can happen and they can adapt to the change. There is a huge difference between not doing something because you might fail, and doing something despite the risk. If you know that your idea has potential, push for what you believe in. “Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving” said Albert Einstein. Fight for your chance to shine, even if a critic only has a “gut feeling”, because if someone else believes in your vision, you might just achieve your goals.
6. Know that actions speak louder than words
We all know someone who likes to say how great they are. But intelligent people know that their actions speak louder than words. A study found self evaluations to be not nearly as accurate as evaluations made by other people, who had watched the participants conduct conversations . If you want to be taken seriously and respected by coworkers and friends, let your hard work prove your worth.
Become a more intelligent person today
We all want to be intelligent, and despite what you may think, intelligence is not a fixed trait determined at birth. Work hard and fight for your success, and challenge your brain every day to achieve your full potential.
 Chialvo, D. & Bak, P. (1999) Learning from mistakes. Neuroscience: 90(4), 1137-1148.
 Csikszentmihalyi, M (1999) Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
 Amabile, T & Kabat, L (1982). When Self-Descriptions Contradict Behavior: Actions Do Speak Louder than Words. Social Cognition: Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 311-335.