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10 Habits That Make You Smarter Day By Day

10 Habits That Make You Smarter Day By Day

Growing up, I had a coach who would always say, “Today is a great day to excel.” It’s something that’s stuck with me throughout my life: the knowledge that every day you’re given a chance to improve on the person you were the day before.

It’s also a great reminder that you’ll never get this exact moment back, so you should use every second to your advantage. Knowing this, it’s important to practice mindfulness every day, and to get into the habit of continuously improving your life in some way or another.

You can make the most of each day by:

1. Asking questions and following up on them

As kids, we harbor a natural curiosity about the world around us. We probably drove our parents nuts asking so many questions, but it was because we genuinely had to know why the sky is blue, or why dogs bark and cats meow. As we grow older, we get busy living life and, unfortunately, lose interest in discovering information about our world.

We should keep our imagination alive by actively asking questions and seeking out the answers on a daily basis. Keep a journal throughout the day of ideas that pop into your head that you don’t have time to think about at work.

Instead of lazing around on the couch for an hour when you get home, use this time to find the answers to the questions you had throughout the day. Even if the knowledge you gain isn’t directly applicable to your job, digging deeper into a seemingly minuscule interest could lead to the discovery of a life-long hobby.

2. Reading something new

Because of smartphones, we literally have the ability to read every piece of literature that has ever been penned by man in the palm of our hands. Don’t spend all day scrolling through Facebook for cat pictures.

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Check out apps like Flipboard and Longform, which collect stories from around the globe that you can tailor to your interests. Don’t just read the same old news sites. Instead, read an opinion article that directly jibes with your own perspective.

Reading an article you disagree with can potentially expand your mind, and help you come to a realization that changes your life. Even spending time reading for pleasure will keep your mind active and moving forward.

3. Sharing new knowledge

Learning something new is important, but sharing that knowledge makes what you’ve learned actionable and meaningful. Just like we have the ability to take in knowledge easily through the use of smart phones and the Internet, we also have the ability to share this information with our friends, family, and even complete strangers around the globe.

Use your Facebook page to share the interesting story you just read, or use an interesting photo gallery as a springboard to a fictional piece of literature. If you find something that interests you, share it with the world.

You might end up establishing new connections that could last a lifetime.

4. Applying new knowledge

There really is no point in learning something if it doesn’t inspire you to improve. Think of reading an advice column: If you don’t actually take the advice, you really just wasted the time it took to read the article in the first place.

If you take the time to learn something, you should take the extra step to learn how to use that information. If you play guitar and read an article about music theory, pick up your guitar and put your new-found knowledge into practice.

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You never know when you’re headed toward a breakthrough unless you take action to get there. Before you set out to read or learn to do something, ask yourself: How will I use this new knowledge?

Once you have a goal for learning, you’ll be much more motivated to learn in the first place.

5. Seeking out interesting people

Social media sites like Twitter have made communicating with interesting people incredibly easy. If you’ve ever spent time watching videos on TED, you know there are people out there who have incredible ideas and visions for our world.

These people are, well, people just like you. Reach out to the people who have inspired you.

They might be busy and may or may not respond, but if they do it could lead to a mind-expanding dialogue with limitless possibilities.

6. Doing something that scares you

When I started writing for all the Internet to see a few months ago, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be good enough, or my ideas would come off as pedantic and idiotic. After penning about 40 articles for Lifehack, I’ve become absolutely overwhelmed by the positive responses many of them have received.

If you’ve just learned a new song on guitar, play it for a group of friends. Then play it for a group of your peers. Then play it in front of a crowd. As you push the boundaries of your comfort zone, you’ll find it expanding each time you stretch it.

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Learn to be okay with being nervous and afraid; if everything was easy to do, nothing would be worth the effort.

7. Eating healthy

In school, our teachers would always advise us to eat well the night before and morning of a big test. They wanted to make sure you were fresh and had the stamina needed to work for hours on end without a break.

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will keep you energized and willing to go the extra mile in everything you do. If you feel like garbage, you’re not going to want to push yourself to excel.

To keep things interesting, you can always find healthy eating recipes on Pinterest. Make sure your diet is full of fruits, vegetables and various proteins so you can hit the ground running each and every day.

8. Playing games instead of watching TV

Doing crossword puzzles, playing video games, or even watching Jeopardy is much more beneficial than vegging out and watching reruns of your favorite sitcom. Your mind should always be working, even during leisure activities.

Working on puzzles or playing games increases your logical thought and problem solving processes, which can positively affect all other aspects of your life.

Even time honored games like Tetris prove to be both fun and beneficial to your brain. And, even though your brain is working throughout these activities, you’ll be relieving the stress that your mind accumulated throughout the workday.

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9. Exercising

Along with eating healthy, keeping your body healthy is of utmost importance if you want to improve your overall well-being. Again, you won’t really be apt to push yourself mentally if your body is physically sore.

Take the time to get up and move, even if you only have a short period of time each day to do it in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park at the end of the parking lot at work.

As with everything else, you need to make every second of your day count in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

10. Setting aside quiet time

Your brain, and your body, need time to recharge every day. Of course, you should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but in addition to that, you should spend some time to yourself, with no external stimuli around to bother you.

Take 10 minutes before bed or after waking up to meditate and let your mind relax. Try not to think of any of the stressful situations in your life, and just be.

And you don’t have to be a seasoned meditation expert, either. Psychology Today makes it clear that meditation really is for everyone.

Doing this before bed will make falling asleep much easier, and doing it in the morning will allow you to face the day without anxiety. And, if you can get some quiet time in during your lunch break, you’ll be energized and ready to work when everyone else has hit the two o’clock slump.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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