Intelligence is something everyone yearns for. It is the true superpower of the world, the ability to conceive ideas and execute them. In this age, intelligence is superior to physical ability in every way possible. Everyone wants, but not everyone has it. Many believe it to be set at birth, a notion that is false. Although intelligence certainly is affected by genes to an extent, you can easily improve it. Intelligence however is different from motivation or energy. It is how well you are able to think and learn, not if you actually will choose to do so. Motivation and energy are such fickle things, too many things affect it. Music, caffeine, emotions. All these things can improve or degrade your will to do something. These are different from Intelligence.
And for this reason, I will only be looking at ways to increase raw brain computational power as opposed to increasing motivation or your ability to blandly memorize. You’ll learn things faster, remember more, react faster, think better, and be better. You will be one step closer to perfection. This guide will focus on techniques and concepts that are quantifiable and scalable. Things such as training methods and diet. Anyone can take a smart-pill and do some office work for a couple hours, but not everyone can be a straight-A student without studying once.
Crystallized Vs Fluid Intelligence
First we must define intelligence so that we can avoid confusion, a common occurrence in these sort of discussions due to the fact that the concept of intelligence is so individual. Intelligence can be separated into 2 categories, Crystallized Intelligence, & Fluid Intelligence. Crystalline Intelligence refers to knowledge that has been crystallized, information that you have picked up throughout your life and have trained. School and your job would be catalysts of Crystallized Intelligence, a quantifiable understanding of something. Fluid Intelligence is the opposite, your ability to understand and work things out in your head. Your raw computational power.
It can be thought of as Trained Intelligence versus Adaptable/Computational Intelligence, the former that which is specific in application, the latter that which is applicable in all situations. The jack-of-all-trades vs the master of one, the computer software versus the computer hardware.
The first step in building something is to actually acquire the materials you need, and in the case of a genius-intellect, a healthy brain. No matter what you do, you cannot improve in anything without first improving your health. You cannot learn without sleep, you cannot build muscle without food.
In order to maximize benefits you must first set an adequate foundation. To have a good car, you first need a well-oiled engine.
Getting more and better sleep is likely the best thing you can do for your brain. It’s repeated a lot but that’s because it’s true. When you sleep, your mind filters out toxins and plaque, 2 things that contribute to Alzheimer’s and hamper your Intelligence. You also grow new brain cells as well as repairing existing ones. This makes it the single-most important thing you can do to improve Intelligence. Quality of sleep is more important than quantity. This is why people with certain genes are able to get by on 6 hours of sleep. It is believed that these people’s bodies simply better utilize sleep, getting the same benefits a normal person would with 8 hours of sleep in 6 hours. There are countless articles on how to improve sleep so I will give you a brief list:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
- Don’t eat less than 2 hours before bed
- Don’t drink a lot before bed
- Don’t look at a screen 30 minutes before bed
- Get sunlight or light when you wake up
- Take Vitamin D every morning
- Take it easy in the evening
- Turn your phone off or turn airplane mode on when you sleep
- Keep your room pitch-black
- Make sure your room is cool
- Don’t be too hot or too cold
- Make sure your feet aren’t cold
- Have a fan or white noise on to block any random stimulating sounds in the night
- Sleep on the opposite side of your non-dominant hand
- Breathe with your nose (cut out dairy if it’s usually stuffy, tape your mouth to make sure you breath through your nose)
- Keep your lips closed
- Take Melatonin, Magnesium, or Glycine as a temporary sleep aid
- Workout 1-2 hours before bed and/or have sex
- Meditate before bed
- Drink cold water 60-30 minutes before bed
- Always urinate before bed
The type of fuel you put in an engine is just as important as the engine itself. Your diet is very important for brain function, so much so that if you can’t eat something good, then don’t eat at all. The optimal diet for your brain should be one rich in fat while also still having a diverse intake of dark green vegetables and fruits. I recommend 60/30/10 animal products/vegetables/fruit in corresponding order. Your brain and body run optimally on fat and so getting plenty of it as opposed to carbohydrates is important. More important than calories or fat is micronutrients. Below are the ones most important for brain function.
True Vitamin A, not Beta-Carotene, is essential for brain function. Vitamin A is fat soluble vitamin, meaning you can get plenty of it from meat and eggs. It is important for every organ especially the eyes, heart, and brain.
B-Vitamins are important for energy production as well as playing a role in most bodily processes. It’s important to eat plenty of eggs as well as organ meat every day. These 2 foods are incredibly high in several B-Vitamins, especially B6 & B12. Supplementing with a good B-Complex is also a great idea. Get one without B12 as Cyanocobalamin as this is the cheapest form of B12 and is actually toxic to the body.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are important for optimizing your brain and body. Brain matter is composed of approximately 60% fat and is heavily influenced by the intake of essential fatty acids. Numerous studies conclude Omega-3’s to be incredibly beneficial, making it a must for everyone optimizing their brain & body. Take a quality Omega-3 supplement from fish oil everyday and eat fish at least twice a week.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that very few people in the west get enough of. It is important for energy production as well cognitive function. Magnesium is one of the top Nootropics, a supplement that boosts cognitive function. It’s also very beneficial for anxiety and sleeping. Bananas and green leafy vegetables are high in Magnesium, although to actually get enough Magnesium you would need to eat an inordinate amount of these foods. That’s why it’s important to supplement with Magnesium. The best Magnesium supplement is Magnesium (Bis)Glycinate or Citrate.
Iodine is incredibly important for cognitive ability, likely being the most important in fact. Iodine is essential for the Thyroid Gland, which is responsible for pretty much every hormone in the body including those important for brain development and use. Studies have concluded that supplementing with Iodine during pregnancy can increase IQ by approximately 13 points. I also believe this to be one of the reasons Asian populations have higher average IQ’s, consuming a diet rich in seafood and Iodine. It is an essential supplement everyone should be taking. I recommend just taking a Kelp tablet/capsule everyday with food.
Foods For Optimal Brain Function:
- Red Meat
- Beef Liver & Kidney
- Cacao/Dark Chocolate
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Fermented Foods
Exercise is an incredibly underrated and underutilized method of improving brain power. Many will likely have heard it increases intelligence however they will likely not fully appreciate how much it increases it by. When you think about it our ancestors were moving and hunting/foraging constantly. They needed to constantly learn and scan their environment. So our brain decided it would be best if it could do this faster. Physical activity sends messages to the brain, indicating we are either hunting, moving, or running away. In each circumstance our brain would need to fluidly conform with the environment. You’re somewhere unknown, and unknown is danger, thus your brain must learn it and think as fast as possible. Exercise, Sleep, and Image Streaming (see below) likely hold the most potential for improvement, easily showing cognitive benefits after only a few day. Heavy-Resistance training is best but all exercise benefits the brain & body.
Cerebral Blood Flow
Blood carries nutrients, hormones, and oxygen, all of which are essential for brain function. More of it means better brain function. Because of this fact, many nootropics increase blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function. Nitric Oxide is the main chemical responsible for vasodilation, meaning it widens the blood vessels and improves blood flow. I wrote an extensive guide on increasing it here.
Never Stop Learning or Thinking
The brain is like a muscle, you lose it if you don’t use it. The mind will waste away if it isn’t used, in fact this is why many believe the brain can’t change or grow after you become an adult. When you become an adult, your life becomes far too monotonous. You wake up at the same time every day, go to the same office everyday, eat the same thing everyday, etc. You don’t do anything new or different, and thus your mind solidifies to simply get by doing what you are currently doing. Your mind will always degrade to do the bare minimum unless you keep it on it’s feet. This is why it so important to always be learning or trying new things. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” they say. Well of course you can’t when all it’s been doing is sleeping, eating, and shitting for the past 9 years. Incorporate daily habits such as reading, chess, or playing an instrument. Always be learning or thinking. Never lose your edge.
ACTIVITIES FOR KEEPING YOUR MENTAL EDGE:
- Video Games
- Playing An Instrument
- Crime/Mystery Media
- Speaking Other Languages
Reflecting on yourself and your actions opens up many possibilities for growth. Being able to learn from your mistakes is what every successful person totes as one of the greatest secrets to success and it makes sense. A computer cannot change if it does not perform a diagnostic, searching for errors and ways of maximizing efficiency. A problem does not exist when it is not known, just as enemy does not exist if it lies in the shadows. In addition to preventing further mistakes, you will also learn of any possibles way to maximize your efficiency as well as any of your weaknesses. He who knows himself holds much power. This will train your mind to be able to view itself in the 3rd person, giving a much better view to operate and optimize itself. This way of thinking challenges the brain, causing great growth both physically and mentally. Simply meditate on yourself as well as keeping a journal and jot notes of your response to things. Read it all over the next day and look for the chinks in your mental armour, the rest will follow.
This is certainly one of the most beneficial exercises on here, and if I could only recommend one then it would be this or active daydreaming.
Image Streaming is a technique designed by Win Wenger, Ph.D., an innovator in the realms of technological advancement and brain development. He is a world renowned cognitive trainer and author of over 55 books. He has dedicated his entire life in the pursuit of cognitive development and creative methods,dreaming of bringing forth a second Renaissance. Image Streaming is his most famous technique, wherein an individual describes the images they see in their head out loud in as much detail as possible. He developed it, along with several other innovators, after experimenting and studying geniuses from throughout history.
Because of it’s obscurity, Image Streaming has not been studied extensively. However, one study found after 1 hour of image streaming, participants saw an increase of IQ of 0.7-2.3 points as well as a noticeable improvement in problem solving skills, analytic skills, pattern recognition, and creativity. The author later conducted the study again, this time opting for a full 40-hour university course, 1 hour X 4 days a week. The results were as follows:
A. Average Results:
1. Number of students assessed: 24
2. Average time in image streaming: 20.5 hours
3. Average attendance, percent: 70%
4. Average entry level I.Q.: 94
5. Average exit level I.Q.: 103
6. Average I.Q. gain rate: 0.44 IQ pt/hour
7. Entry level creativity scares:
Guilford “Decorations” 38.9
Guilford Expressional Fluency: 4.2
8. Exit level creativity scores:
Guilford “Decorations” 49.6
Guilford Expressional Fluency: 3.6
9. Entry level Kolb coordinates:
Active Experience – Reflective Observation: -1.2
Abstract Conceptualization – Concrete Experience: 0.8
10. Exit level Kolb coordinates:
Active Experience – Reflective Observation: 1.0
Abstract Conceptualization – Concrete Experience: -0.2
In addition to these studies we have much anecdotal evidence along with reasoning. We know how the brain works, that it can physically grow like a muscle, and that it can be trained. It is believed Albert Einstein also conducted an exercise similar to this. There has only been success with this, and I concur with this.
To image stream, simply find an environment without distraction and relax. Start daydreaming, and as you do, describe everything you see in as much detail as possible. Your mind will likely race at first but you can keep up. What does it smell like? What does it feel like? Describe the images in as much detail, using the senses and soul.The important factor for this is consistency. Do it everyday for 30-60mins and you will easily see an improvement after the second day.
Looking back, I attribute much of my genius to this. Active daydreaming is similar to image streaming, thinking in depth with all the senses simply without explaining it out loud. As a child, I would swing on a swing set for close to an hour each day, eyes closed and mind open. I would think and dream, whilst still being conscious and in control. I played out fantasies and schematics in my head, complete with the senses accompanying them. I could feel the things actually happening in front of me and to me. I was so entranced I got incredible emotional responses and inspiration. Being able to visualize so vividly is an incredible ability, engaging much of the brain in deep thought. This is in fact what Einstein attributed to his success. He was mentally retarded as a child and even failed his college entrance exam. These blunders don’t come down to social-awkwardness or some other fluke, rather Einstein really wasn’t smart. However this obviously changed. Einstein believed the secret to becoming a genius was letting the mind roam free and using the mind frequently which I believe to be the case. Let your mind run free like a cow in the plains and you are sure to get a top quality product.
This method works similarly to the previous 2, engaging the mind’s ability to visualize and think. Keep a journal or notepad next to your body and immediately record your dreams when you wake up. Write everything down in detail, make it a true experience. This will also give insight into your subconscious and how you feel deep down. Reflect on it every now and then, looking for patterns. You will also start to sleep more deeply and and have more vivid dreams.
This method has been shown to drastically improve all areas of cognitive function except creativity, whilst also increasing IQ by 10 points after 3 weeks. This method actually works off of the respiratory system and how breathing affects our consciousness. I find the effect to be similar to Mushin, without the ‘zoning-out’ effect. The method is done like so: You will free dive or marine swim without breath for a comfortable amount of time (10secs-3mins) continually for however long each day. The results seen above were after 20 hours compoundly of this technique within 3 weeks. We can simply say with this to do this for an hour or so everyday for a month. Research has shown the significant role breathing plays in focus & awareness. This is why snipers hold their breath when they aim or someone does something of great import or pressure. This technique builds on that and optimizes your breathing. This one of the main reasons meditation improves focus so greatly, it teaches you to breath deeply and slowly. This effect is seen in all mammals. It is important to do this with a spotter who is aware of what you are doing. It is also important that you actually swim and exert yourself, not simply hold your breath.
The most important thing to remember is to just stay consistent. As long as you keep using your brain, you’ll see improvements. Don’t go overboard the first day by trying to fit everything here into your schedule, just get your diet on track, get some sleep, and try something like image streaming. If you applied this information for an entire year, you could increase your IQ by 30-40 points. Just as important as actually having it, is applying it. Never forget your dreams. Now go achieve them.