Unlocking Your Intelligence: The Relationship Between Environment, Mindset, and Growth
Intelligence has been a concept that has fascinated human beings for centuries. While our understanding of it has evolved over time, psychologists and scientists have tried to pin it down to just our IQ, as if a number can be representative of our entire mind. They used to believe that intelligence is entirely inherited and cannot be changed or improved upon. However, today we understand that intelligence is a much more abstract concept. It is not set in stone but can be influenced by our environment, our mindsets, and our commitment to constantly improve ourselves. This article will explore the relationship between environment, mindset, and growth in unlocking our intelligence.
Nature vs. Nurture
The classic debate of Nature vs. Nurture has been an ongoing discussion in psychology. Nature refers to our genetic makeup, while nurture refers to the environmental factors that influence our development. While they were thought to be separate entities, research has shown that intelligence is only partially inherited. The full potential of our intelligence is determined by the environment we set it in, which means that nature and nurture interact together to create intelligence. The people we surround ourselves with, the new challenges we give ourselves and the shows we choose to watch are just a few examples of factors that influence our intelligence. Even though we can’t change our genes, we are in control of many factors in our own environment.
The Power of Mindset
Research indicates that the only limit to one’s intelligence is what the individual believes is possible and how their behaviors either foster or limit their intelligence. Our beliefs come from our past experiences, and the interpretations we make from those events can have a profound impact on our mindset. If we have always been told we are unintelligent by our teachers or family members, we are likely to have set a mental limit for ourselves and what we can achieve, thus preventing us from reaching our full potential. Michael Strasner, personal and professional coach for over thirty years, says when we make the effort to identify the negative beliefs we have about ourselves and remove them from our thoughts, we are truly free to become anything we want, including more intelligent.
The Growth Mindset
The growth mindset, a concept founded by psychologist Carol Dweck, perfectly describes the qualities essential to developing our intelligence. Embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, viewing effort as the path to mastery, learning from criticism, and finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others are all qualities that help to develop our growth mindset. We sometimes need to make mistakes and immerse ourselves in situations where we are in a state of disequilibrium to improve our intelligence. Although this may initially feel uncomfortable, it ultimately brings us much further in life than the person whose main goal is to appear smart in the eyes of others.
Four Simple Ways to Get Smarter
1. Challenge Yourself: Lev Vygotsky developed the theory of the Zone of Proximal Development, which suggests that the optimal tasks for developing our cognitive abilities are ones that are too difficult for us to master on our own, but we are able to complete with some assistance from more capable peers. As soon as a task becomes effortless for us to complete on our own, it is a sign that we are not challenging ourselves enough and are not encouraging any potential growth in that specific area.
2. Read Smarter: Reading just about anything will improve your awareness and open your mind to new thoughts and ideas. According to an article by Glen Stansberry, “Those that read have higher GPA’s, higher intelligence, and general knowledge than those that don’t.” While the concept of reading books to get smarter is not exactly novel (pardon the pun), few of us actually do it. The reason is that we’re not reading smart. By increasing our reading speed, using technology like Spritz, and even dropping the books we don’t love, we can read even more books.
3. Hang out with People Who Are Smarter Than You: One of the best ways to become more intelligent and grow as a person is to surround ourselves with intelligent and ambitious people. No matter how strong we are, those closest to us can have an impact on our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
4. Become an Idea Machine: In James Altucher’s new book, The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, he shares a daily habit of his with fellow readers. Every day, no matter what, he writes down 10 new ideas. It is easier said than done, but the more we practice it, the easier it will become for us to think of ideas and solutions during times of conflict, where it is essential to be able to react quickly.
Intelligence is not set in stone but can be influenced by our environment, our mindsets, and our commitment to constantly improve ourselves. The tips mentioned in this article are meant to help you see measurable changes in the way you think, the ideas you have, and the challenges you are able to face in real life. Intelligence is like a muscle. It can’t become stronger if it is not challenged by heavier weights and exercises. By incorporating these practices into our daily lives, we can train our brains to think more critically, learn more quickly, and become more intelligent.
– Nature vs Nurture
– Power of Mindset
– Growth Mindset
– Challenge Yourself
– Read Smarter
– Hang out with People Who Are Smarter Than You
– Become an Idea Machine