Newsweek‘s The Daily Beast has come up with 31 ways to get smarter in 2012. Some of them make perfect sense and others will surprise you.
1) Play Words With Friends
The popular smartphone game gets your thinking juices flowing! Research has shown that word puzzles help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Just turn the phone off if a flight attendant asks you to, okay?
2) Eat Turmeric
I’ve never heard of this one and I’d be surprised if you have. It’s a common spice in Indian and Thai curries. The spice contains curcumin, which may reduce the risk of dementia.
3) Take Tae Kwon Do
Or SOMETHING physical, it can be anything: playing tennis, dancing, play certain games on the Nintendo Wii or X-Box Kinect. Any activity that raises your heart rate and requires a lot of coordination says John J. Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
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4) Get News from Al Jazeera
For some reason a 2009 study found that viewers of Al Jazeera English were more open-minded than people who got their news from CNN International and BBC World.
5) Toss your smartphone
For most of us this is insanity. Our phones are permanently attached to our hands! But those little suckers waste so much of our time, especially while we should be working hard. The Daily Beast recommends software called “Freedom” where you can block your computer from accessing the internet for a specific amount of time.
6) Sleep. A Lot.
Take a nap, then get to bed early. Harvard research has shown that your brain continues to process memories even when you’re sleeping, so you can recall them better later.
7) Download the TED app
Some of the greatest minds around gather each year at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences to explore new ideas. Since you probably can’t be there in person, downloading the app is the next best thing to see what they’re up to.
8) Go to a Literary Festival
Wow, this sounds like fun, huh? Ok, obviously not to me – but maybe it’s your thing. Los Angeles, Wales and Jaipur (?) are all places with major annual book festivals so make your reservations now!
9) Build a ‘Memory Palace’
Its a trick for quick recall, associate the thing you want to remember with a vivid image. You can get a better grasp on the techniques outlined in Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.
10) Learn a Language
Mastering a second language really gives your brain a workout. The abundance of “Rosetta Stone”-type language software these days makes it easier than ever.
11) Eat Dark chocolate
Yes! Now here’s one I can get behind! Dark chocolate is reported to have memory-improving flavonoids. You know what else has lots of flavonoids? Red wine. So the next time you look in the mirror and see you are drunk from red wine and fat from dark chocolate, just remind yourself it’s slowly making you smarter.
12) Join a Knitting Circle
Knitting refines your motor ability which can bolster cognitive skills. Plus you can knit yourself some stylish pants that everyone will be impressed with.
13) Wipe the Smile Off Your Face
Experiments have shown that the simple act of frowning makes you more skeptical and analytic in your thinking. It also makes you look like a big sourpuss that no one likes. So… your choice.
14) Play Violent Video Games
Various studies have found that video games quicken reactions, improve multitasking, and reduce hostile feelings after a stressful task. Anything from the “Grand Theft Auto” from GTA3 and beyond will do just fine.
15) Follow these people on Twitter
Economic genius Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel), online show host Jad Abumrad (@JadAbumrad) and author Colson Whitehead (@colsonwhitehead). Those guys are smart. Reading their tweets MUST rub off on you in some positive way.
16) Eat Yogurt
Probiotics are good for the stomach and some studies suggest they could be good for your brain too. Plus, yummy treats are never a bad thing.
17) Install SuperMemo
The best time to recall something is the instant before you forget it. There is a flash card program called “SuperMemo” that helps you catalog important new data and then reminds you to remember it at that perfect moment before it slips away.
18) See a Shakespeare Play
Reading good ol’ Shakespeare has been shown to engage the brain more actively than most contemporary texts. I’m guessing that’s because many of us are trying to figure out what they’re talking about in the dialogue!
19) Refine Your Thinking
According to author Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, system 1 is fast and automatic and system 2 is slower and more effortful. Kahneman says that by understanding these two systems we may be able to detect our own lazy biases and make better choices.
It’s common knowledge – any high school coach will tell you. Dehydration forces your brain to work harder and may dampen its planning ability.
21) Check out iTunes U
Apple offers over a half million free lectures, videos films and other resources from some of the world’s best thinkers.
22) Visit your local Art Museum
Most metropolitan areas have major art museums. Viewing art has been shown to reduce stress, plus it makes you look all smart and high-class.
23) Play a musical instrument
Learning an instrument boosts your IQ and increases activity in parts of the brain controlling memory and coordination. Plus, it’s fun. Just learn in a place where no one else can hear you. Your loved ones and neighbors will thank you.
24) Write by Hand
I don’t know about you buy my handwriting has continually degraded over the years as I type almost every single word I ever write. Brain scans show that handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing. Plus, experts say it’s easier to remember something once you’ve written it down.
25) The Pomodoro Technique
This time-management method aims to make you productive using nothing more than a kitchen timer. Use it to work in 25-minute blocks, taking a short break after each; the frequent rest aids mental agility.
26) Zone Out
The rest of us may think there’s nothing going on in your head when you stare off into space. But studies suggest that “zoning out”, especially when you don’t consciously realize that you’re doing it, allows the brain to work on more important “big picture” thinking.
27) Drink Coffee
Women who drank four cups of coffee a day were less likely to suffer depression than women who just drank one cup each week. Other studies have shown that coffee enhances your short-term memory.
28) Delay Gratification
Studies have shown that children who were able to resist a marshmallow placed in front of them went on years later to have higher SAT scores than the students who snatched up the puffy white treat.
29) Become an Expert
Mastering one task you enjoy puts your brain in its happy zone. Chess experts, for example, recognize patterns more quickly than amateurs. Practice makes perfect, but you already knew that.
30) Write Reviews Online
Everyone is a critic and ANYONE can be a critic online. When you review something, whether you love it or hate it, writing out your opinion helps you better understand your own thinking.
31) Get Out of Town
Life in a big city can drive you to distraction. spending just a few moments on a crowded city street impairs memory and self-control, as your brain processes all the stimuli. Plan a getaway and get in touch with nature to give your noggin a chance to recover.
Source: The Daily Beast