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Taking Up These 10 Hobbies Will Make You Smarter

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Taking Up These 10 Hobbies Will Make You Smarter

There is a general perception that we can’t do much to enhance our intelligence. It’s almost always believed that whether you’re smart or not is determined right at birth and you can’t do anything about it.

However, these are all misconceptions. While some people have conditions that prevent them from being able to increase their intelligence level, for most people, there are plenty of things that can be done to make them smarter.

Hobbies are integral parts of our lives, and once developed, we find ourselves immersed in them on a regular basis. Hobbies are fun and invigorating- and they can also have a great influence on our intelligence.

Below are 10 hobbies that will help to make you smarter- all backed up by scientific studies and experiments:

1. Play a musical instrument.

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    Confucius said a long time ago, “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without”. Music stimulates your brain, and this has been proven by research as well.

    Music has the power to invoke complex emotions and psychological states. Various researchers have shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument increases memory capacity.

    Playing a musical instrument also teaches you patience and perseverance for it takes time and effort to learn to play a musical instrument. It also sharpens your concentration.

    2. Read voraciously.

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      Reading goes a long way towards increasing your intelligence level- this is further the case if you read voraciously across many different topics, from fiction and biographies, to anthologies.

      Reading reduces stress, helps you to experience multiple emotions, and teaches you a lot about many subjects. All these factors help you to feel better about yourself; being at peace with yourself is one of the most important foundations for positive wellbeing.

      Reading is very important for enhancing your knowledge on a subject, preparing for all sorts of situations and being more productive in how you go about achieving your goals.

      3. Meditate regularly.

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        The foremost benefit of meditation is to help you focus on yourself and to get you to know your true self. Being engrossed in meditation helps individuals transcend to a higher state of being.

        Meditation helps to reduce stress levels and gets rid of all sorts of worries. With a calm and composed state of mind obtained through meditation, you can learn, think and plan things in a much more effective way.

        Regular meditation helps you to have full control over yourself. Being aware of distractions and effective methods of self-control are of the utmost significance when working to improve your intelligence.

        4. Work out your brain.

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          Just as you need to work out regularly to keep your body fit, you also need to work out your brain to keep it in good shape. Regularly challenging the brain to do new things enhances its abilities and helps to keep you sharp.

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          You can work out your brain in plenty of ways such as through: sudoku, puzzles, board games, and riddles. All these activities help the brain to continue forming new connections. Through such activities you also learn to respond to situations in creative ways, develop the ability to see things from a lot of different perspectives and become significantly more productive.

          5. Exercise often.

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            A healthy body helps to ensure that you have a healthy brain. After all, your brain is like another muscle in your body. Exercising regularly keeps your brain and body functioning as they are supposed to. It reduces tension and helps you to sleep better.

            Doctors agree that better blood circulation to the brain means increased brain function. Various studies on mice and humans have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells, and thus improve overall brain performance.

            6. Learn a new language.

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              Learning a new language may not always be an easy task but it definitely has numerous advantages-making you smarter, being one of them.

              The process of learning a new language involves tasks such as analyzing grammatical structures and learning new words, which enhances your intelligence and brain health.

              It has also been proven through various experiments that people with high levels of verbal-linguistic intelligence are great at planning, decision-making and problem-solving.

              7. Write your feelings down.

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                There are tons of benefits that you can receive from writing, including increasing your overall level of intelligence.

                Writing improves your linguistic abilities, of course. But it also helps you to develop such skills as focus, creativity, imagination, and comprehension.

                Writers are often considered as having very high levels of intelligence. You can write in different ways. You can write things with your hand or you can create your own blog. Whatever you do, you are giving words to the images in your mind; learning to express yourself clearly is a great way to boost your intelligence.

                8. Travel to new places.

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                  Travelling is not just a way to kill your boredom- there’s lot more to it than that. Travelling can really boost your intelligence.

                  The physical and mental workouts involved with travelling, rid your mind of stress. As you become stress-free, you are more able to focus on tasks, observations, and deepening your understanding of subjects.

                  Every new place you travel to offers new things to learn. You encounter diverse people, food, culture, lifestyle and society while travelling, which puts you in touch with ideas you might never have thought of previously.

                  9. Cook different kinds of meals.

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                    Many of us feel that cooking is a mere waste of time and it’s something we very much want to avoid.

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                    But instead of whining, you should feel happy when you have the opportunity to cook. Regular cooks, particularly the ones who try out a variety of meals, have high levels of creativity. They are committed to quality, aren’t afraid to try things out and they pay great attention to details.

                    Whenever you cook something, you are learning to multitask, measure with precision and make quick decisions. With all of these skills you’re acquiring, you’re becoming smarter too.

                    10. Participate in sports actively.

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                      Participating regularly in sports activities doesn’t only exercise the muscles but also does the same for the brain. Playing sports regularly makes the brain more flexible and improves overall brain health.

                      Sports have added benefits too. Watching sports has been linked with increased brain function, and through exercising you work out your muscles. Involvement in sport also enhances responsiveness, coordination, capabilities, and confidence.

                      Top athletes are known for their special form of intelligence. It doesn’t matter whether you play football, basketball or cricket. Consider being regularly involved in some form of sport to boost your brain’s performance.

                      Featured photo credit: Tatyana__K via shutterstock.com

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                      Nabin Paudyal

                      Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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                      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                      Warming up

                      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                      Stay hydrated

                      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                      Meditate

                      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                      2. Focus on your goal

                      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                      3. Convert negativity to positivity

                      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                      4. Understand your content

                      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                      5. Practice makes perfect

                      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                      6. Be authentic

                      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                      7. Post speech evaluation

                      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                      Improve your next speech

                      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                      • How did I do?
                      • Are there any areas for improvement?
                      • Did I sound or look stressed?
                      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                      • Was I saying “um” too often?
                      • How was the flow of the speech?

                      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                      Reference

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