9 Habits That Make You Smarter Every Day

9 Habits That Make You Smarter Every Day

Many people believe intelligence is static – you’re born either smart or not so smart, and there’s not much you can do to change it. However, scientific research on neuroplasticity reveals that the brain can form new neural pathways and alter its cognitive abilities throughout life. Your intelligence is far more malleable than you may think. Engaging in daily habits that challenge, stretch, and exercise your mind can make you more intelligent.

If you always considered yourself not a quick learner, needed help focusing, or feared public speaking, you can improve these mental capabilities with purposeful habit change. In this post, we will explore nine lifestyle habits with proven benefits to become more intelligent daily through reading, writing, learning, exercising, and engaging your brain in new ways. Implementing even a few of these routines will set you on the path toward reaching your cognitive potential.

1. Read Challenging Books

Reading stimulates the mind like little else. Consuming complex books trains the areas of your brain responsible for focus, vocabulary, imagination, and critical thinking. Mix up fiction and non-fiction books on diverse topics to get the mental workout. Challenge yourself by selecting books above your average reading level. Just 30 minutes of reading quality literature daily over time will strengthen your intellect.

For example, Amit challenged himself to read higher-level texts on physics despite having no science background. Looking up unfamiliar terms and visualizing complex concepts stretched his cognitive abilities.

2. Learn a New Skill

Exposing your brain to novel skills forces it to construct new neural pathways. Pick up hobbies like learning a musical instrument, studying a foreign language, coding, pottery, photography, cross stitching, or any creative endeavor. Choose beginner classes or online courses and dedicate time to practice. The frustration of struggling through the learning curve is exercising your brain!

Julia committed to learning essential web development online after work. The left-brain logical thinking required was the opposite of her right-brain dominant graphic design career, giving her brain plasticity.

3. Do Brain Training Games and Puzzles

Puzzles and brain teasers flex mental muscles that sharpen with regular use. Start easy with crosswords, word searches, and number puzzles, then work up to more complex logic and memory games. Programs like Lumosity offer personalized training. Just 10-15 minutes of mindful engagement strengthens your cognitive capacities. The challenge keeps your brain young.

Ravi begins each morning doing the daily Sudoku puzzle in the paper. Completing these number games primes his mind for analytical focus. He notices this quick habit boosts his productivity all day.

4. Write Down Your Thoughts

The act of writing engages diverse cognitive functions as you articulate ideas. Try free-flow journaling about thoughts, making detailed to-do lists, taking notes on online lectures or books, or creative writing. Handwriting stimulates the brain more than typing. But any writing forces your brain to strengthen connections and build mental stamina.

Through journaling, Laila challenged herself to write 750 words daily on any random topic. Constantly generating ideas to write strengthened her vocabulary, memory, and imagination.

5. Have Intellectually Stimulating Conversations

Conversing with others challenges you to think in real time. The intellectually stimulating discussion expands your knowledge and perspectives. Initiate more profound talks beyond boring small talk by discussing news, theories, philosophical ideas, or current issues with friends. Debate and play devil’s advocate rather than just agreeing. Just make sure to listen as much as you speak.

Juan met weekly with a colleague at work to discuss interesting podcasts over lunch. Their wide-ranging intellectual discussions taught them new ways of thinking. Juan noticed his conversational abilities had greatly improved.

6. Continuously Learn New Information

Exposing your mind to new knowledge and perspectives boosts your intelligence by creating more neural connections. Make learning something new every day a habit. Listen to educational podcasts during your commute. Take free online courses on Coursera or EdX on topics you want to learn more about. Read widely on diverse topics. Follow current events. Never stop being curious.

During college, Simone got into the habit of listening to podcasts while walking rather than music. Learning new things during this downtime expanded her general knowledge on many topics. Years later, she still spends an hour a day listening to enriching podcasts.

7. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Challenging your mind to move beyond its habitual comfort zone causes intelligence gains. Say yes to opportunities that make you nervous or uncomfortable as they force the brain to adapt. Try public speaking, debate, acting, or giving presentations at work. The more you can bring yourself to do things you feel unqualified for, the more you’ll grow.

Mark used to avoid work presentations, fearing speaking publicly. When asked to give a product demo, he reluctantly agreed—preparing forced him to improve his knowledge and practice explaining concepts clearly under pressure. The experience was validating.

8. Limit Mindless Internet Surfing

While the internet offers a wealth of information, overuse dulls the brain. Compulsive scrolling and site hopping fragments focus and attention. Set limits on low-value web time to avoid mental laziness. Replace aimless browsing with more enriching activities that require concentration, like reading books.

Zara’s endless scrolling left her unable to focus for long periods. She started using an internet blocker to restrict access to social media and random sites. Replacing this with reading developed her attention span.

9. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity delivers oxygen and blood flow that energizes the brain. Cardio, strength training, and yoga have proven mental benefits. Shoot for 150 minutes of moderate exercise like brisk walks or bike rides weekly. Moving your body releases hormones that boost neuron growth. Just 30 minutes a day keeps your mind engaged and energized.

Since starting a running habit, Abbie noticed she could concentrate longer and recall information more quickly. Daily exercise clears her mind, reduces anxiety, and improves her mental focus and acuity.

Case Study: How Daily Habits Transformed Kyle’s Life

Kyle always considered himself a slow learner with poor memory. He flunked out of college and struggled to hold down jobs due to difficulty learning new skills. His low self-esteem made him avoid anything intellectually challenging.

After discovering research on neuroplasticity, Kyle realized he could expand his intelligence through purposeful daily habits. He began reading challenging fiction, learning the guitar, doing crossword puzzles, writing in a journal, taking free online courses, having meaningful discussions with a like-minded friend, and limiting social media use to one hour daily.

Within eight months, Kyle noticed significant gains in reading comprehension, attention span, verbal fluency, and memory. Picking up new skills became easier. He felt motivated to apply to vocational college, build professional skills, and push his mental abilities further. Kyle serves as a powerful example that intelligence is malleable, not fixed. With grit and the proper habits, you can raise your cognitive capabilities, no matter your starting point.


Becoming smarter is within your control if you commit to daily habits that train your brain cognitively and creatively. Small, consistent efforts like reading complex books, writing regularly, learning new skills, puzzling, meaningful conversations, exercising, stepping outside your comfort zones, and limiting internet overuse compound over time to build your intelligence.

While establishing new habits feels uncomfortable, sticking with smart routines expands your abilities. What once seemed challenging will become easier as your mind grows more robust. Wherever you are starting from intellectually, purposeful habit change can unlock your hidden potential.

If you’ve always seen yourself as not the sharpest tool in the shed, don’t despair. With grit and determination, you can become stronger every day. The brain is plastic and wants to learn. Feed your mind daily with novel, complex input, which will raise your cognitive capacities. You can be as smart as you choose through targeted daily habits over time. Expand your intellectual horizons and watch your abilities blossom.