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How To Be Smarter

Aug 17, 2007
The term half-wit may actually be more true than we realize. And it also may be more common than we care to admit.

There isn't really a term for thinking with all of your brain, so we'll call it whole brain thinking.

Whole brain thinking is not only top to bottom thinking but also left to right thinking.

Evolution has created three brains, and they built themselves one on top of the other.

The first brain is the Reptilian Brain. It emerges directly from the spinal column. It controls basic instincts and responses. Those who are good at video games or racing cars where reflexive, fast-action thinking is important have this early brain well developed.

The second brain is the Limbic System. It is also called the Mammalian Brain. This includes the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It controls emotions, sexuality, and pleasure. People who are ruled by strong feelings stimulate this brain quite often.

The third brain is the Neo-Cortex. This is the new brain, the "thinking brain," the one we use to figure out what things mean. When someone is described as intelligent, it is a reference to this brain. This is the brain that goes to school.

At first blush, it may seem that all we need to do to develop more intelligence is to just focus on the most recently evolved brain. But this is not entirely true. The limbic system, for example, once aroused can improve learning, too, because emotional arousal activates more mental powers than normally used.

Now looking at the Neo-Cortex, we see two that it splits into two brains, with a tissue in between, the corpus callosum, that acts as a type of type of communication bridge.

The left brain is what is most developed in Western Cultures, especially through the process of education. It specializes in serial, sequential thought. It is logical and likes step by step reasoning. When you appeal to someone to be rational, it is an appeal made to this part of the brain.

Someone who is considered well-spoken and has a good vocabulary, shows mathematical ability, argues in a logical way, and likes things to be organized and sequential is using the left brain.

The right brain is what is most developed in cultures that are considered more artistic. The right brain grasps things all at once. It sees whole patterns. It synthesizes. People who are right-brained are able to see patterns, enjoy spatial reasoning, and show a talent for music. They are imaginative. They like to visualize new possibilities. The next time you see someone humming a tune, they are in rhapsody with their right brain.

The way to be smarter is to develop more of your brain both vertically and horizontally.
By developing your reflexive responses, your emotional range, your sensitivity to pleasurable stimulation, and your ability to figure things out, you are developing your brain vertically. You can also develop it horizontally by doing more of the things you are not very good at doing. If you have a scientific view of the world, you should develop your artistic side; and if you have an artistic leaning, then develop the skills of sequential reasoning. You will instinctively know what to develop by working on what you are weakest in. It's not that those parts do not exist for you; they are just dormant through lack of exercise.

Previously, it was believed that intelligence is fixed and that it deteriorates with age. This is simply not true. These ideas evolved during the times when neuroscience was not as sophisticated as it is today. Today we know that a well-used brain gets smarter as time unfolds.

The way to be smarter is to work on providing an enriched environment for your brain. Besides exposing yourself to more interesting and challenging things, this also includes improving your physical health, diet, and attitude.

It takes a lot of effort to develop a really fit and healthy body. It actually takes less effort to develop a really sharp brain because the brain, unlike a muscle, can work longer and harder.

Is it worth the effort? After all, why bother to be smart when most people are content with just coasting by with what they know, indulging in mundane conversations and engaging in mindless television programs for hours on end?

Here is why it is worth it:

Life becomes increasingly more interesting because you actually start to experience more of it. You literally let more of your experiences come alive for you. You not only have more experiences, both literal and vicarious, but you also enjoy more vivid ones, experiencing more aspects of any situation.

Also, in a world that is becoming increasingly more complex, with information exploding at a rapid rate and technology and social interaction becoming more sophisticated, learning how to learn and pushing yourself to understand more of the amazing world around you might just make your life a whole lot better.

The future depends not on people who understand a few things but by those who are fascinated by the rich diversity inherent in any experience.
About the Author
Saleem Rana would love to share his inspiring ideas. His book Never Ever Give Up tells you how. It is offered at no cost as a way to help YOU succeed. http://www.theempoweredsoul.com
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