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7 Ways to Become Smarter Every Week

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Give Your Brain a Boost: 12 Books Guaranteed to Make You More Intelligent

Want to be smarter – or at least feel like you are? Pick up one of these classic reads for great minds. The idea that reading makes you smarter has been proven by numerous research studies, including some that have identified improvements in crystallized, fluid and emotional intelligence in individuals /articles/develop-emotional-intelligence/who read regularly. Reading can help expand vocabulary and understanding, and increase the ability to detect emotions and feelings in others for better communication and relationships.

1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

While this ancient book might, at first, appear like a military manual, its ideas about strategy translate into successful tactics that anyone can use to create a more intelligent strategy for their company.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

So much of today’s success comes from having the right mindset for business. This book is dedicated to showing you how to think methodically and rapidly, as well as how to know when to make faster or slower decisions. You want to be quick on your feet, but you don’t want to rush into a decision that needs more contemplation. Kahneman teaches both a “fast system” and a “slow system” to help you determine when and how to use each speed of thinking. [Related article: What Are Decision Support Systems?]

3. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

In this popular book, Bryson shares information across many areas of science related to the universe and how we got to where we are in human history. Along the way, Bryson adds some heavy information on physics, biology, chemistry and more. When you can discuss how and why we might be here, as well as our purpose, you could impress more than a few people in conversation.

4. The Greatest Secret in the World by Og Mandino

First published in 1972, this book has stood the test of time and is on a number of must-read lists. Not only does this book make you more intelligent with insights on personal and financial success, but it also gives you the plan for developing the traits that will get you what you want. The transformational processes Mandino describes can also help you improve your relationships with all types of people. [Check out our top 10 must-read books for marketers.]

5. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes

Those who write well are often deemed more intelligent than those who cannot. Pick up this manual, which serves as both a how-to book and a fountain of inspiration on bravery. This book gives you the information you need to improve your grammar, structure, tone and style.

6. Jump Start Your Business Brain by Doug Hall

This book is designed to enhance your level of intelligence around designing and launching a new product. It focuses on the skills and knowledge essential to making a viable product. Hall uses research and analyses to help you develop an effective sales process, marketing strategies and other business techniques.

7. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

While you might think some aspects of this book are over your head, Sagan makes deep and expansive topics accessible. He covers areas such as religion, philosophy, history, culture and science, to make you feel more well-rounded, or at least deliver some tidbits you can toss into a dinner party conversation about the meaning of life.

8. Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Creativity continues to be pegged as a critical success factor and a pathway to differentiation in business. Yet it can be one of the most difficult things for us to put into a defining practice for use. With examples from today’s biggest creative film successes, the book offers a glimpse of how to tap into the creative potential in all of us.

9. You Are Not Your Brain by Jeffrey Schwartz

Most of us need to practice greater discipline in how we think and act. This book offers tips on how to control your mind while managing any impulses that may be impacting relationships, productivity and overall success.

10. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

While a high IQ is great to have, Outliers presents the logic behind why some people are more successful than others, illustrating that it is not always directly related to intelligence. Using findings from evolutionary psychology, Gladwell teaches you how to be smarter and more successful.

11. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Since we all seem to develop both good and bad habits in our lives, it is beneficial to understand why we do what we do, and the impact that our habits can have on us, our relationships and how well we do in the business world. This book can provide the inspiration and strategy to alter habits and develop ones that position us to be more admired, influential and successful.

1. Spend time reading every day.

The mind is like a muscle: the more you use it the stronger it will become. Reading is an important element for developing your mind, as it's one of the basic ways we gain knowledge and learn.

Through reading, you can discover new things and educate yourself on any topic. Reading also helps develop your creative side by engaging your imagination. Words, both spoken and written, are the building blocks of our social existence -- and through words, you can go anywhere in the world.

If you're looking to quickly grow your knowledge, one easy way is to speed up your reading so you can charge through books, written material and even online articles (like this one!). Most people read at an average rate of 250 words per minute. At that rate, it would take you about six minutes to read this article. But with speed reading, you could cut that time in half. Just remember, the goal is to help you rapidly consume more information, not just zoom past words without fully comprehending their meaning.

Utilize your online time wisely.

Don’t let temptation on the Internet get the best of you. Write down your priorities when it comes to your Internet activities and get them done in order of importance. Be conscious of which websites to visit, and maximize your time online by visiting sites promoting learning, such as TED Talks (we recommend watching TED presentations on stress management, overcoming procrastination, and practicing mindfulness). You can also take up computer hobbies that are worthy of your time and effort.

Children become more prepared to learn in school when the growth of their brains is promoted by engaging in art. Also, children can improve their communication skills through art, and therefore have an easier time conveying their ideas to others.

Creating art makes use of your imagination, whether you are drawing images of concrete things or portraying your emotions through abstract art. Drawing, painting, or coloring plays a beneficial role in the continuous development of your brain.

For those who are right-brained, creating art is a healthy way of using and enhancing creative skills. For left-brained (or analytical) people, it can help stimulate their creative side and improve it.

Travel as often as you can.

Traveling can make you smarter. The brains of individuals who travel and expose themselves regularly to unfamiliar environments produce more neurons in anticipation of new experiences and developing ways to effectively deal with them.

Having the willingness to question your old views and being open to viewing the world from various perspectives can expand your ability to consume new information. When you travel, you are forced to think in new ways and embrace unique cultural practices.

Both of these factors will ultimately create more neurological connections in your brain, which makes you quicker to react. It also improves you ability to think through logic and problem solve more efficiently. Traveling has creative and cognitive benefits, as shown in this research.