Some people are born with an edge in intelligence. And some people are born severely lacking in the brain department. No matter where you are starting from, there are ways to up your brainpower and stand out from the crowd.
There are different ways to measure intelligence and each measurement has certain merit in certain situations. For our purposes, we are concerned about increasing our intelligence in ways that are directly useful in the real world. This isn’t about passing an intelligence test or measuring your ability to retain information, or having higher IQ scores. Being practically intelligent will be more beneficial in more real situations than being hyper-intelligence in a tiny niche.
To learn how to be smarter than everyone else, you first need to focus on which branch of intelligence to develop first. I recommend one of the following:
- Linguistic intelligence (speaking and understanding language)
- Body-kinesthetic intelligence (how to better use your body)
- Interpersonal intelligence (understanding other people)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (understanding yourself)
- Emotional intelligence (this is kind of a blend of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence)
- Creative intelligence (imagination and creativity)
There are other categories of cognitive ability but these are the most useful in most situations. Start with any of these categories that seem interesting to you. You can always change course later on so don’t waste too much time deciding where to start.
Table of Contents
Benefits of linguistic intelligence
Linguistic intelligence is a skill that has a direct effect on many aspects of your life. This verbal intelligence blends well with many of the other forms of intelligence and is also useful on its own. The ability to communicate ideas clearly is invaluable. In business, you will be able to explain creative ideas in a way that is easy to understand. In dating, you will be able to communicate in a way that makes you more interesting and attractive.
Signs of linguistic intelligence
A linguistically skilled person will often have other highly intelligent people hanging on his every word. This can be either because what he says is so useful or captivating. He has a way with words that makes people want to listen. Complex ideas are explained so that others can easily grasp the concept. Listening to a linguistically intelligent person speak is refreshing.
Linguistic intelligence characteristics
A person skilled in linguistics will be comfortable with words, either spoken or written. Their overall verbal fluency gives them an easy time breaking down the words and writings of others and finding the meaning. These people can be highly persuasive and convincing in arguments. They can often be funny since humor and comedy are based around speech and using language to evoke emotions.
Famous person with linguistic intelligence
There are so many famous linguists. Writers such as Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe are experts at language. Famous speakers like Martin Luther King and Tony Robbins are examples of famous people with linguistic intelligence. Another group of people that are “word smart” are comedians such as George Carlin and Anthony Jeselnik.
How to improve linguistic intelligence
You improve this skill by getting more comfortable with words and turning thoughts into words. Reading books is a great place to start. Read a variety of books, not just one or two genres. Study authors that you normally don’t read. Look into nonfiction and self-improvement. Read different types of fiction. You can hone in on which aspects of speech you want to improve by familiarizing yourself with relevant material.
If you want to work on your humor then watch comedians and read humorous books and articles. Immerse yourself in what you want to improve and you will get a better understanding of the language, cadence, and context.
Benefits of body-kinesthetic intelligence
This type of intelligence is all about your body and how you use it. This can be a full-body application such as dancing or it can be a specific part of the body that is highly skillful such as the hands of a surgeon.
The benefits of developing this mind-body connection are many. You use your body every day so being more in tune with how you operate physically will carry over into other aspects of your life. This also has the amazing side benefit of developing a healthy body.
Safety is one underrated benefit of body-kinesthetic intelligence. Being “body smart” will result in fewer accidents and injuries. People who have developed this skill are far less likely to stub their toes or cut themselves while preparing food. They are more acutely aware of their body positioning. They are also less likely to trip, especially when walking on ice or in other unusual conditions because their sense of balance is more developed than the average person’s.
Signs of body-kinesthetic intelligence
These highly intelligent people will be skilled with their bodies and hands. They may be creative and crafty. Manipulating other objects is directly related to this type of intelligence since manipulating other objects required the use of the body.
People with a strong body-kinesthetic intelligence will show a higher degree of coordination than normal. This can take form in sports, dance, and other physical activities. They are very in tune with their body and what it is doing.
Body-kinesthetic intelligence characteristics
A person with this intelligence will be more aware of their body and how it interacts with the world. They are more likely to be agile and strong. They also tend to learn more easily by physically performing a task rather than watching it or listening to instructions.
Famous person with body-kinesthetic intelligence
The most obvious first choices are sports stars and artists. Wayne Gretzky and Royce Gracie are two good examples of smart people with this skill set. Both were experts at their sport and both required a strong body-kinesthetic intelligence to achieve their goals.
Another example is Jim Carrey. He was able to contort his face in a way that 99% of the world could not. He used his body and facial expressions to become a comic genius.
How to improve body-kinesthetic intelligence
This skill requires physical practice in order to better develop your body’s capabilities. Working out and lifting weights is a good place to start. This helps form a connection between your mind and your muscles.
Depending on the particular physical skill you want to improve, you will need to do different activities. If you want to improve your hand-eye coordination then juggling or playing catch is a good idea. If you want to improve the dexterity of your hands then consider playing an instrument a craft such as sculpting.
A favorite activity of mine is practicing jiu-jitsu. When I started, I was humbled at how bad my body-kinesthetic intelligence was. Trying to grapple at first was like fighting two people because I was fighting my opponent and fighting myself at the same time. My body didn’t move the way I wanted it to.
The difference after a few years is massive. Now I feel more comfortable physically and know more accurately what my body is capable of. I strongly recommend jiu-jitsu to anyone who wants to understand how their body works.
Benefits of interpersonal intelligence
This is another widely useful form of intelligence that all guys should develop. This skill is how you deal with other people. It is closely related to linguistic skills because language is one of the main ways we communicate with other people. Interpersonal skills go beyond just the verbal though.
This aspect of intelligence also relates to leadership and influencing other people. Smarter people with this skill are comfortable working with other people and are generally seen as more likable.
Signs of interpersonal intelligence
A person with strong interpersonal intelligence will be a skilled communicator both verbally and with body language. They are “people smart” and able to pick up on body language clues that other people might not notice.
Social skills are directly tied with this type of intelligence. People with high interpersonal intelligence are great at maintaining relationships with other people and social interactions are easy for them. They can even lower the social anxiety of people they interact with. Others feel comfortable around them and want to spend time with them. They are often charismatic and charming.
Interpersonal intelligence characteristics
Guys with this form of intelligence are typically very people-oriented. They are great communicators and have strong social skills and understand social psychology innately. They often make good leaders and influencers. These are the guys who have plenty of friends and can get dates easily. They have a magnetic personality that draws people to them.
Be aware that this skill can be used for evil. Some of the worst people in history had this type of intelligence. Cult leaders in particular misuse this skill to manipulate people into doing their bidding. It shows that even the smartest people can use their mental prowess negatively.
Famous person with interpersonal intelligence
Jimmy Fallon is a great example of high interpersonal intelligence. He has a way of making his guests feel comfortable and appreciated.
Barack Obama also had strongly developed interpersonal skills. You can see the way he handled interviews and spoke with others. He had a way of being personable with anyone he talked to.
How to improve interpersonal intelligence
Spend time around other people and work on being a good listener. Try to understand how the other person feels during the conversation. Study books on body language and learn to understand what different actions mean.
Read about leadership and the techniques that good leaders use to influence others. Talk to strangers even if it feels awkward at first.
Practice dating. Go out and meet more girls. Practice talking with them and getting a better feel for what makes them tick. The more experience you have, the better you’ll become at this skill. Unlike some of the other forms of intelligence, this one takes a considerable investment of time to develop. But it is worth the time spent because dealing with other people is a central part of life.
Benefits of intrapersonal intelligence
This is the skill of knowing and understanding yourself. It is breaking down the shields and lies that you have built and taking an honest assessment of yourself. It is uncomfortable, but it is one of the most important things that you can do for your personal growth.
By understanding the truth about yourself, you can address any issues and work on true self-improvement. Taking a deep look at your inner thoughts and feelings will reveal a lot about yourself.
Signs of intrapersonal intelligence
People who analyze themselves and question themselves are “self smart”. They can often be found journaling or challenging their own beliefs. They are more aware of their own mood, motivations, problems, and plans. Someone with this kind of intelligence will know themselves much more deeply than the average person will. This helps them to solve problems about themselves more easily than others without this attribute.
Intrapersonal intelligence characteristics
Self-smart people tend to spend more time alone. They are self-reflective and like to understand their own thoughts and feelings. They are usually introspective and like to contemplate things deeply.
Independence is a common trait among the intrapersonally intelligent. They thrive on self-motivation and hold themselves accountable.
Famous person with intrapersonal intelligence
Philosophers such as Aristotle are the first to come to mind when it comes to having intrapersonal intelligence. Philosophers spend a lot of time alone in their thoughts not only analyzing society but also taking an intense look at themselves.
Writers, especially self-help writers tend to have high levels of this intelligence because their topic requires honest self-assessment.
How to improve intrapersonal intelligence
Learn self-hypnosis or meditation. These are both solo activities that leave you alone with your thoughts (or without them).
Read the works of stoics and philosophers and learn new ways of thinking. Challenge what you already think you know. Try to understand yourself more deeply by asking uncomfortable questions.
Keep a journal and write in it consistently. As your read back on your prior entries, question what you have written and take time to analyze your thoughts and feelings.
Benefits of emotional intelligence
This valuable skill is related to controlling your emotions and the emotions of others. This form of intelligence is useful for working with other people. It is a necessary skill for those in a leadership position, or for anyone who wants to improve their personal relationships.
Having a developed “people smart” skill set will allow you to defuse and even prevent drama and tension with other people.
Signs of emotional intelligence
You have an innate sense of how other people are feeling. You consider how your actions and what you say will affect others. Your initial impressions of people are usually accurate. You can accept the faults of other people.
Emotionally intelligent people also know how to trigger certain emotions in other people, whether for good or bad.
Emotional intelligence characteristics
People feel comfortable around you. Other people like talking to you about their problems and seek your advice because they trust that you will be sensitive to their situation.
Smarter people with calm demeanors usually have good emotional intelligence and stability. They don’t let outside circumstances affect them as much as the average person.
Famous person with emotional intelligence
Howard Stern has an incredible understanding of how to influence the emotions of other people. He asks questions to bring out emotions in his guests which will then affect how his listeners feel. His controversial use of emotional intelligence has made him widely loved and hated, but you can’t argue that he knows how to spark emotion.
How to improve emotional intelligence
Adopting a more stoic lifestyle will help you control your emotional response to external factors. You can practice this by refraining from watching the news, avoiding drama in relationships, and learning to control your temperament. This self-control is closely tied with your emotions.
Practice positivity with yourself and with others. Don’t let other people drag you down into negative emotions. Build up your resistance to drama and negativity by practicing seeing the good in people and situations.
Benefits of creative intelligence
This is an extremely powerful form of intelligence that you can develop. Being “creatively smart” allows you to construct new ideas out of thin air. This is how inventions, creative ideas, and great stories are made.
Creativity is at the heart of human progress. It is the driving force behind our economy and society. Creative minds have shaped reality into what it is today. These creative people have made the impossible possible.
Signs of creative intelligence
Smart people with strong creative intelligence take risks and aren’t afraid to fail. They know that failing is a good thing and is required on the path to building something new and great. They are often seen as strange or somehow different than the masses.
A creatively smart person will usually have an open mind to new ideas and come up with wild ideas. They are ambitious in their pursuits and have a strong drive to see their ideas come to life.
Creative intelligence characteristics
Being creatively intelligent means that you are not bound by the constraints that most people put on themselves. They are constantly pushing the bounds of normalcy. Conventional wisdom is often set aside so that new ways of thinking can be discovered.
They are often seen as eccentric and have been called crazy by the masses. Creators are comfortable knowing that many people do not understand them and often disagree with their ideas.
Famous person with creative intelligence
Elon Musk is a creative genius who has new ideas that change the world. He doesn’t let society’s opinions slow him down. He has failed countless times and because of this, he has become one of the most successful people in history. His problem solving skills are highly developed, largely thanks to his creative approach to problems.
How to improve creative intelligence
Read contradictory points of view to what you believe. This will help you develop a more open and healthy mind and see the world in a different light. And don’t worry about not having all the answers. Nobody does. But having creative thinking will help guide you to finding the answers that you seek.
Take on new challenges that are out of your comfort zone. Before you decide on a solution, make yourself come up with five or ten other solutions to stretch the bounds of your creativity. This stretching of creativity will make your brain function in new ways as it tries to fund more solutions that it would otherwise not even consider. Keeping an active and creatively thinking mind will also prevent you from being bogged down by a lazy brain that isn’t being used to its potential.
Study how great thinkers think, even the fictional ones. Learn how Sherlock Holmes was able to make connections that led to deductions and look at Albert Einstein’s creative ways of looking at problems.
The many paths of intelligence
These are the types of intelligence that have the most practical intelligence in the real world. Any of them will help you become more successful in life and a smarter person overall. It is a matter of choosing which intelligence you want to develop first. Learning how to be smarter than everyone else is a matter of learning which types of intelligence you want to develop.
Keep your mind and body active so you can stay engaged and you will stay sharp. Mindless tasks serve little benefit. Your brain needs exercise just like your body. Find ways to challenge your brain daily and you will see results in your mental acuity. Even simple brain games can work in a pinch. Simple habits that are done daily have massive influence over time.
Too much attention is wasted on people with higher IQs or learning how to do better on an IQ test. These numbers don’t decide who the smartest person is and they don’t translate into being useful in the real world. Having a higher intelligence isn’t quantifiable with numbers. High intelligence can only be measured by how you can use it in real life and how it will make your life better.