5 Ways to Strengthen Your Intellectual Wellness
Seven Dimensions of Wellness
Part 3: Intellectual Wellness
What is the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset?
Simply put, an individual with a growth mindset believes that intelligence & talent can be improved, whereas an individual with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence & talent are fixed.
Said another way, a person with a growth mindset looks for opportunities to grow, embraces & adapts to change, accepts setbacks & mistakes as part of the learning process, and enjoys striving to achieve & beat their goals; a person with a fixed mindset fights change & refuses to try new things, feels ashamed about their “failures”, and doesn’t enjoy striving for goals.
What does this have to do with intellectual wellness?
We believe it has quite a lot to do with intellectual wellness because mindset & outlook can completely alter the result of any challenge or change you may face during your lifetime.
Those with a positive outlook on learning are dramatically more likely to succeed and enjoy the process along the way, compared to those that approach challenges & change with a negative outlook.
The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, was quoted saying, “Change is the only constant in life”.
Whether it’s a small change like taking a new route to work due to construction or exploring a new place while on vacation, or a larger change like starting a new job, moving to a new place, or learning a new skill, change is all around us.
...So why not approach change with excitement & enthusiasm?
Each potential challenge you face is simply another opportunity to learn & grow - it’s an opportunity to improve your intellectual wellness.
What is intellectual wellness?
Intellectual wellness is being open to new ideas, thinking critically, and finding new ways to be creative. It’s a person’s ability to engage in mentally-stimulating activities in order to expand their knowledge.
Intellectual wellness includes an individual’s entire knowledge base, from book smarts, to street smarts, social skills, interests & hobbies, community involvement, and cultural knowledge.
And although there has been much debate about whether or not someone can improve their IQ, when it comes to intellectual wellness, there is no denying that it is possible to expand your intellectual wellness.
Here are 5 ways to improve your intellectual wellness and keep your mind sharp!
5 Ways to Improve Intellectual Wellness
1) Read More
We know...life can get a little crazy sometimes, so finding time to read isn’t always possible.
Do your best to make time every day to read, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes. If that’s not possible, start by reading on the weekends and then slowly introduce it in the evening hours during the week as a way to wind down before going to bed.
And don’t just read personal development books, read for pleasure and choose a book that’s outside of your area of expertise or current knowledge base. Reading can improve your intelligence by stretching your mind to be creative, introduce new perspectives, and explore new topics.
Plus, frequent reading has the added benefit of improving your vocabulary and gives you interesting topics to discuss among friends & family!
2) Learn a New Skill
Have you heard of the term neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. In other words, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt to new inputs & experiences.
And learning a new skill is a great way to keep your brain active, help it form new connections, and improve your intelligence & intellectual wellness.
Some great resources for learning new skills include online learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, MasterClass, and Coursera. Most classes featured on these platforms are relatively inexpensive (some are even free) and include everything from photography, animation, and design to marketing, copywriting, and even programming, web development, and artificial intelligence.
3) Play an Instrument
Music has a powerful impact on our minds and the way we think. From helping you meditate & set your intentions for the day ahead, to helping you concentrate while working, to pumping you up during a big workout, and even unwinding after a stressful day, music has the ability to change our brains!
But, did you know playing an instrument has even more of an impact on your intellectual wellness compared to just listening to them?
Playing an instrument is a true exercise for your brain. It strengthens it in ways you never thought possible - from changing your mood, to increasing your sensory & motor skills, allowing you to connect more to others, and more.
Plus, it’s kind of cool to learn how to read music, have an understanding of chords & clefs, and even be able to express yourself through music!
4) Learn a Foreign Language
Just like learning a new skill improves your neuroplasticity, learning a foreign language also keeps your brain active and challenged.
Foreign languages help improve your thinking skills and memory abilities. In fact, learning a foreign language is one of the most effective & practical ways to increase intelligence, keep your mind sharp, and keep your brain “young”.
Plus, in addition to increasing your intelligence & intellectual wellness, learning a second or third language can lower your risk of brain “aging”, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
5) Do Puzzles
Do you enjoy crossword puzzles or sudoku?
Word puzzles, number puzzles, and even certain board games (like Scrabble) are a great way to exercise the brain and increase intellectual wellness. They also help to increase your memory and help you form new connections.
And you thought crossword puzzles and sudoku were just something for children and grandparents...not anymore!
6) Bonus: Debate with a Friend
Debating might just be one of the best ways to develop true proficiency or expertise on a particular topic.
Why? Because in order to debate a topic well, a person must have a good understanding of both sides of the argument. That means you’ll need to do your homework and research if you want to be able to successfully make a compelling point!
Debating can help you become a better critical thinker, better articulate your thoughts, think on your feet, practice good conflict resolution, show empathy, keep your emotions in check, and even give you an expanded worldview.
And it doesn’t have to be a formal debate either, a simple social interaction among friends can work to sharpen your knowledge of particular topics.
Become a Lifelong Learner
When it comes to improving your intellectual wellness, we encourage everyone to be a lifelong learner.
And with the amount of online training platforms, audio content, books, and documentaries that we have access to these days (in a lot of cases for absolutely free), it’s never been easier to learn a new skill or explore an interesting topic!
Remember, perfection and speed are not the goals.
As Dr. Carol Dweck (the psychologist responsible for coining the term “growth mindset”) outlines in her research, it’s important to focus on the process, rather than the outcome.
It doesn’t matter how quickly you adapt to change or how fast you learn a new skill, what matters is the effort, strategies used, persistence, and resilience that you demonstrate during the learning process.
In other words, enjoy the process, don’t be lazy, and most importantly, view mistakes or “failures” as insights from which you can learn & improve upon in the future!
Learning new things shouldn’t feel scary or daunting, it should be fun & exciting!
Not only are we improving our intellectual intelligence, we are keeping our brains active, reducing our chances of dementia & Alzheimer's, and improving our overall wellness.
So, next time you’re faced with an interesting puzzle or challenge, are you going to approach it with a growth or a fixed mindset?