19 Micro-Habits That Dramatically Increase Your Intelligence In Just 10 Minutes Every Day

There are some not-so-intimidating ways to boost your brainpower.

Last updated on Jul 10, 2024

intelligent woman smiling DS Tkachuk / Shutterstock

Intelligence is the currency of the future. But if you're not going to work to build that intelligence, you won't be able to make it in the times to come.

Luckily, there are ways to grow your intellect, none of which are intimidating. Rather, they are tiny but effective habits that don't take a lot of time or energy. And when done consistently, they lead to extraordinary gains.

Here are 19 micro-habits that dramatically increase your intelligence

1. Put 'thinking for 10 minutes' on your to-do list

woman thinking deep Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

If you think about it, you don't really take time to think anymore. You're always doing something. You're either working or you're on your phone scrolling social media. There's plenty of external stimuli, yet no signs of internal mental stimuli.

But thinking is important; it's how you convert your everyday experiences into lasting insights. So, think every day. Think about what you learned that day. Think about how you could solve the problems in your life. Think about how you could solve the problems this world is facing.

No matter what, carve out the time for insightful thinking.

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2. Read about cognitive biases

woman reading about cognitive biases Christina Morillo / Pexels

Behavioral science teaches us how humans make decisions, what flaws exist in our thought processes, and how we might fix them. And it's one of the most important subjects one can invest their time in.

To start, you can learn about these biases every now and then, find instances in your own life where you act biased, and learn how to fix it.


3. Celebrate your errors in judgment

free woman celebrating Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

An average person denies it when they are wrong. They will argue until the end of the world, but at no cost would they accept that they could have been wrong.

Be the opposite. If you're wrong, be happy about it. Celebrate it. Because next time, you can learn to be right. People who deny that they are wrong will be wrong the next time as well. Don't be that way. Be wrong once, never twice.


4. Write online

man writing on the computer Buro Millennial / Pexels

Writing online is an extraordinary endeavor. Your intelligence multiplies because writing online forces you to simplify your thoughts so they make sense to an audience.

It forces you to break apart a concept and get to the basics. While doing so, you learn the general art of simplifying complex ideas, which is one of the very important pillars of high intelligence.

You don't necessarily have to become a blogger. Even something as simple as one tweet per day might be incredibly helpful.

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5. Reject your first thoughts in stressful situations

man reflecting by the water Nathan Cowley / Pexels

Whenever something stressful happens, the thoughts that come to your mind are drenched with fear and emotions. At the time, they sound logical, but they're not.

The essence of higher intelligence is the ability to control your emotions while making decisions. This is why learning to reject your initial thoughts in stressful situations is important. It allows logical thoughts to follow, which will help you make better decisions.


6. Embrace constraints

woman looking out the window Juan Pablo Serrano / Pexels

People use constraints as excuses. For example, they may say something like, "I can't go to the gym because I have a lot of work to do." However, a healthier alternative is to embrace constraints.

If you decide that you want to go to the gym in spite of the amount of work you have to do, you'll force yourself to think of ways to finish your work faster. This teaches you how to increase your efficiency in any field. When you think about it, constraints are are good thing.

7. Create lists

woman writing lists Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Ten is a good number for this exercise. You can write lists about whatever you want, whether it's 10 ways to save more money, 10 ways to increase efficiency while working, or 10 ways to lose weight.

The first few ideas are easy to come up with. But to reach 10, you have to put in mental effort. It's simply a way to exercise your mind and will increase your brainpower when done consistently.


8. Read quotes and ponder them

woman reading to increase intelligence Adrienn / Pexels

Sounds cliché, but quotes can be life-changing. Quotes are just a few words, but they carry so much power and wisdom. A simple six-word quote can change your life. For example, "Be a thermostat, not a thermometer."

With time, you can even try to write your own quotes. It's an exercise for your brain, as you're trying to fit in an immense amount of wisdom in just a few words.

9. Ask questions

men asking each other questions Mental Health America (MHA) / Pexels

Asking questions is so simple, yet people hesitate to do it because they think it makes them look silly. But that really couldn't be farther from the truth.

Don't be that person who refrains from asking questions just because you don't have knowledge about a specific subject. Ask questions to people you consider smart, and grow smarter yourself.

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10. Be biased toward action

man and woman running Leeloo The First / Pexels

Thinking is good for growing your intelligence, but never let it substitute for actual physical action.

Some lessons in life cannot be learned by reading, researching, or thinking. They can only be learned by doing. So go do it.

11. Play an instrument

woman playing the guitar Charles Parker / Pexels

These days, neuroscientists can hook up people's brains to machines and figure out which parts of the brain light up when doing different activities. Many activities exercise our brains considerably, but nothing beats the way playing an instrument stimulates our brains.

It's like fireworks in your brain. TedEd went so far as to call playing instruments the equivalent of a full-body workout for the brain. And MIT even suggests that if you want smarter kids, teach them music, not coding.


12. Read someone else's deep thoughts and extend them

man reading at a desk Ariel Castillo / Pexels

Coming up with the first deep thoughts is difficult. But to fix that, read someone else's deep thoughts and try to extend them. For instance, you could read an insightful article and ask yourself, "What would I write, if I were to write a sequel to this piece?"

In essence, when you read something insightful, don't just be done with it. Instead, spend 10 minutes or so thinking about how you can add to the piece.


13. Practice empathy

two friends hugging empathetically Anna Shvets / Pexels

People might think that empathy is a skill of people who are "good," but it's really a skill for people who are smart.

Intelligence is all about being able to play with multiple perspectives. And empathy is just about seeing things from someone else's perspective, being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

RELATED: The Smartest People Possess These 4 Traits Of Emotional Intelligence


14. Practice openness to new ideas

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Fear is deep-rooted in all humans and it manifests in different ways. One such way is people's tendency to be overly skeptical or even outright reject new, weird, or ridiculously ambitious ideas.

However, truly smart individuals are open to such ideas and find potential where others fail to. They find potential in ideas that may not appeal to the majority.

Whether they are right or wrong, only time will tell. But the lesson here is that openness is important.

15. Contemplate a complex problem before sleeping

woman thinking while in bed KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA / Pexels

Sleep is not just "rest" for your body, it's also the time complex neurological rewiring happens in your brain. Due to this, there have been times when people dreamt of solutions to truly complex scientific problems that seemed too difficult to be solved otherwise.

For example, Friedrich August Kekul, among many other scientists, was frantically trying to figure out the chemical structure of benzene. But the solution constantly eluded him and others. One-day Kekul dreamt of a snake eating his own tail, which led him to realize that the structure of benzene was actually ring-like.

Whatever complex problem you're working on right now, think about it deeply before you go to sleep. Collect all the pieces and perhaps the puzzle will be completed when you wake up.


16. Watch Ted-Ed videos

man watching videos on a television Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Ted-Ed is genuinely one of the best YouTube channels. It's a huge library of some truly amazing lessons illustrated in refreshingly entertaining ways.

Binge-watch videos on the channel once in a while. It could be a video on how playing an instrument benefits your brain or how to manage your time more effectively.

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17. Practice 'second-order' thinking

woman thinking out the car window Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels

First-order thinking is basically short-term thinking, and most people are content with it. They aren't able to and don't even try looking beyond the short-term.

Let's say you play a game of tennis with a friend, but have a weak backhand and need to convert most of them into forehands, winning the game. You feel good in the short-term because you won, but driving back home you may realize that in the long-term you wasted time you could have used to work on your backhand.

Winning that game only made you feel good in those few hours; however, if you had worked on your backhand that day instead of trying to win, you would have been better in the long-term, even if you lost that day.

This happens all the time. We chase immediate gratification and fail to think in the second order. Don't do that. Look for the long-term consequences of each and every decision of yours.


18. Build an extra-somatic brain

man expanding his brain power while petting dog Zen Chung / Pexels

Your brain is nothing but a storage organ that stores memory and allows you to use it when needed. However, like any other storage device, it has its limits.

You're not going to remember everything you read or learn. That's why you should note every significant thing, taking notes. The smartest people often have notes filled with ideas, quotes, poems, stories, words, or images.

Keeping a library of notes builds an extra-somatic (out-of-body) brain for yourself. You can visit them from time to time and use them to enhance the brain you carry.

19. Trust your gut instincts

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People don't trust their gut feelings because they don't understand where they arise from. But your gut instincts don't arise out of thin air. They're just the result of many years of pattern recognition by your brain.

Your brain is constantly looking for patterns in your life. So, as you cruise through life having different experiences, your brain recognizes the underlying patterns of these situations so that when such situations recur, your brain knows how to best handle them. It's why your gut instincts deserve more of your trust.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. is a writer whose work has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, Medium, and more.