Are you as smart as you can be?

If you think how smart you are is fixed at birth, think again! Scientists are discovering that we can increase our IQ by more than 10% with some simple strategies. Here are five of them:

  1. Use the ‘right’ side of your brain. You probably know that we have two thinking brains: the ‘left brain’ is logical and linear and the ‘right brain’ is creative and intuitive. When you need to do something creative or intuitive, like solve a thorny problem, make a difficult decision or come up with a fun team-building event, kick in your right brain by pressing on your right nostril and breathing in and out normally for 15 or 20 seconds; this stimulates your right brain.

    Similarly, fire up your left brain to help you solve a maths problem or think through an issue calmly and logically, by pressing on your left nostril and breathing normally.

  2. Use your nose. What you smell can help or harm your memory and learning ability. In a series of experiments, Dr Alan Hirsch Chicago’s Smell and taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that bad smells like burnt food or cigarette smoke decreased people’s ability to think clearly while people who sniffed a flowery scent while taking a standard performance test did better because the smell of fresh flowers boosts alertness, concentration and learning speed by up to 17%.
  3. Do something different. Doing anything out of the ordinary also boosts your brain power by improving blood flow to the brain, increasing the production of chemicals called neurotrophins that protect your precious brain cells, and creating new neural pathways, all of which add up to better thinking. Even tiny changes in your usual routine can sharpen your thinking. Instead of brushing your teeth before you shower, try brushing them after or use your left hand instead of your right hand to brush your teeth; take a different route to work; eat something different for lunch or eat lunch somewhere different; learn to use the mouse on the other side of the computer; rearrange your desktop and drawers, move your wastepaper basket to a new spot….

    Using one or more of your senses in a new way or adding an unexpected element to a routine activity is called neurobics, a technique created by the late Dr Lawrence Katz, a neurobiology professor at Duke University Medical Centre.

  4. Sit and stand tall. Poor posture not only makes your ligaments, muscles and joints work harder, it also decreases the flow of oxygen to your brain by as much as 30%, which in turn reduces your mental performance.
  5. Surround yourself in yellow. According to Robert Goldman, MD, PhD and author of Brain Fitness: Anti-Aging Strategies for Achieving Super Mind Power, the colour yellow may help you concentrate. Try yellow paper, a yellow highlighter, a yellow desk pad, or yellow flowers on your desk.

Discussion questions

Which of these easy ways do you fancy adopting or adapting to beef up your IQ?