Have you ever met a person who was perceived as intelligent at school and later on didn’t excel in life? Have you also met someone who was perceived as stupid or ordinary in school but later on excelled in life and was then perceived as intelligent? That goes to show that intelligence is not a stagnant given. You can be born genetically smart and end up not so smart if you do not nurture this inborn capacity.
Cognition is the process wherein a person acquires knowledge and understanding through experience, sense, or thought. The situation previously mentioned tells how this process can be efficient at a given time and how cognition might slow down later in life. It is imperative for us that if we want to have a long life that equals its good quality, we must continually maintain and improve the way we think. This is also the reason why people from different areas and cultures have different learning abilities, retention, skills, dexterity, attention span, motor skills, language, and comprehension. The way we think differs because of several factors. No matter how incredible you think during your high school years or today, there will come a day when you will struggle a bit and find that your brain does not have the same efficiency. The good news to this problem and cultural difference is that wherever you are and no matter what culture you believe in, there are simple ways for you to improve the quality of your life by improving cognition.
Did you ever think exercise was for the body and reading was for the mind? There is some truth in that but there is also a missing fact in that statement. We should acknowledge that the brain is part of the body and will benefit from exercise. When you exercise, you allow the body to distribute oxygen to the brain. Each of our cells needs oxygen to function and to defend itself from possible pathogens. In fact, cells with more oxygen are able to defend itself from pathogens. This becomes possible with regular exercise. We don’t mean the extreme types of exercise. We understand this will sort of make you go crazy especially if you are not a fan of exercise. Simple aerobics will do. Start stretching during day one. Most people make really huge goals with exercise.
Make your goals short term and focused within the week or three days. And begin again when the three days end. Start with simple stretching, jogging, or cardio for 5 to 10 minutes. This is a forgiving routine so you have no excuse not to do it. 5 minutes is almost nothing but if you are able to do it for three days, you will feel reinforced to do it for a week, and if you are able to consistently do it at least for 5 minutes per day in a week, it gets easier. This tiny tweak can lead to big changes both in your body and in your mind.
2. Indulge in fun games
Whether it is board games, card games or puzzles, or even playing Candy Crush or Monopoly, games help you develop the part of your brain that focuses on strategy. Chess and checkers are also excellent games for it. Games help the brain rewire itself and literally learn something new. Puzzles help the brain learn new patterns, strategies, and tap that part of the brain that even teaches you about manipulation. The game Cry Wolf is an excellent example of games that teach you about manipulation. The word manipulation might sound like a negative word but if you think about it, most of the business world requires some sort of manipulative skills to get the best out of a negotiation. So if you are a little bored on the train or on the way home, have a game ready. It will boost the odds in your favor.
Asking is perhaps one of the least things you would consider when trying to develop your cognition. But let’s face it, when your boss gives you a task, most people do not ask for the specifics and even blindly let negotiations or things fall into their place without their full knowledge just because they didn’t ask. One of the main characteristics of an intelligent person is not only glibness and knowledge but curiosity and the extent to which he goes through to answer his curiosity. Children learn because of curiosity.
4. Take mind-enhancing food and supplements
Since your brain is a part of the body, in fact, one of the most vital parts of your body that must be healthy, it is imperative that you pay attention to its nutrition. Eat brain-boosting foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and take fish oil in case salmon isn’t available. Taking Longjack or Maca Root can also help your brain adapt from stressful situations and function more efficiently since these foods help normalize neurotransmitters, helping you focus more and even have more energy to do so.
5. Learn a language
You’ve probably heard this before but there is a huge reason why learning a language does not only make you sound savvy and sophisticated, it actually makes you more intelligent. Speaking multiple languages helps improve your attention span, memory capabilities, decision making, and helps the brain get used to multitasking, because why not? A language is a task to learn and being able to speak more than one language is a cerebral way of multitasking. So get that Langenscheidt off that bookstore and start reading it. Who knows? It might land you a job in the city of Paris or make your trip to Germany a fruitful one because you can speak their language.
6. Play an instrument
Have you ever had a crush on someone who played the guitar or violin really well? That someone could have been you if you knew how to play an instrument. Playing a song that you like in an instrument that you find interesting helps you release stress, regulate depression, and lower cortisol levels. Picking up a new skill such as playing a guitar, piano, or flute helps give you both the emotional and intellectual benefit of improving your memory skills and attention span. It also taps into your artistic side making both sides of the brain active.
It is a no-brainer that sleep is a vital thing that you need to do to simply let your brain recharge and ensure that it will continually work well. That common knowledge isn’t enough for most people and they go on to keep themselves awake for unreasonable hours. Some people try to cheat sleep by taking stimulants which work for a while but damage the body in the long term. Forget the status quo that tells you to sleep less and work more. You can do that but if you want to make sure you have better health, a sound mind and body, take this advice and get enough sleep. It will allow you to be more efficient at work and have less stress in dealing with people at work and in your family.
8. Meet people
When you were young, you were perhaps told that friendliness is a good thing. It still is. As long as you keep your good judgment in choosing friends and people and the places where you meet them, networking will always be a great way to learn from people and get new ideas. Be guarded but be inquisitive and consider people as gold mines. Of course, you must also have a sense of doubt but learn anyway, and if possible, learn from the role models that you want to become. If you find that there is a gathering of entrepreneurs or writers or a group of people whose careers of expertise is something that you find interesting, go ahead and meet people, make new friends, network. One of them could be a potential client or mentor. Choose them correctly and use your judgment well.
9. Get a pet
Having a pet nurtures the emotional part of our brain. Pets help us nurture our sense of caring and helps reduce anxiety levels. Going outside to walk your pets also give you the benefit of exercise that comes with jogging. Plus, it is known in psychology that people who bring pets with them are perceived to be more attractive than they really are because it makes them appear more nurturing and more attractive. So not only does it give your brain the satisfaction of emotional fulfillment, it actually gives you the benefit of looking more attractive.
10. Meditation and Laughter
Do you ever notice that one of the most prevailing qualities and activities of people who are incredibly happy is meditation and laughter? There is a saying that goes “Laughter is the best medicine.” You cannot go wrong with happiness. Scientifically, laughter stimulates endorphins that make your body feel good and even strengthens your immune system. Laughter, come to think of it, even stimulates blood circulation, which makes it good for the brain, apart from its ability to lower cortisol and stress. Mix it up with meditation, and you get the focus and mindfulness you need for whatever task you have. Try meditating for 5 minutes. The reason why we recommend 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes is because you can always do 30 minutes after you’ve transcended the 5 minute time frame. The key is consistency. So watch that funny movie or joke with friends and meditate for 5 minutes.
Cognition is a mental and sensory process. But if you improve your cognition, not only will you improve your mental process, you will also improve the quality of your life. These tips are not too hard to follow. If you notice, most these are just times at 5 minutes. So apply these tweaks because these tiny changes can lead to great improvement.