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Most people think of being smart as innate characteristic. You either have it or you don’t right? The answer is a definite NO if you ask me. It’s actually a function of many factors such as your overall health, your state of mind, your mood and so on. In broad strokes this can be expressed in a little formula:

                                SMARTNESS = INTELLIGENCE x RATIONALITY

Okay, let’s break it down a little bit. Smartness in my lexicon is defined as being able to make really good decisions.

Yes, this is a bit vague but that’s exactly the point. I deliberately defined it like this so that it subsumes all other words related to smartness such as clever, shrewd, wise, resourceful etcetera and by extension their definitions (If you can think of a better definition, please let me know so I can adjust accordingly).

I define Intelligence as the machinery you are equipped with or the hardware to more computer-savvy folks. Basically your physical brain, its health and its capacity. I think this is straight forward enough. If intelligence is the hardware it stands to reason the Rationality is the software. What I’m referring to is the instructions for how the hardware is used.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can get to the good stuff. How do I actually get smarter? Well it’s simple, you improve one or both of these two factors. Let’s start with the intelligence. This can be improved by just improving your overall health and wellbeing that is exercise, staying hydrated, watching out for your mental health basically all the things you’ve probably heard a million times before.

As to how to improve your rationality here’s a few things I’ve found to help:

Follow these steps carefully to unlock your genius

Read a Lot of books

I’m sure a lot of people have touched on this but I’ll say it again anyway because it’s such powerful idea. Some people have likened Reading a great book to having a conversation with the author which is especially useful if they are no longer alive. I’d argue that it’s even better because in a book all the smart things the author has to say have already been picked out for you.

Talk to A lot of smart People

The reasoning behind this is simple, if you talk to a lot of smart people you get to steal their ideas. I know this doesn’t sound very sexy but hey an idea is useful regardless of where it originates but only if you act on it. I’ve found that people are not particularly stingy with their ideas so it’s technical not even stealing

Read more articles like this one

What can I say. The people who write these things are awesome.

Ask more questions

Asking more questions means you will get more informed so on an absolute scale, your knowledge rating will increase. More importantly, it means you’ll get to clear up your misconceptions which I call anti-knowledge (anti-knowledge = -1(knowledge)) which is even better for your knowledge scale because negative values are what bring your score down.

Question your intuitions

Danny Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, talks about 2 systems in which the brain works, the fast system or System 1 which is more intuitive and rash and the slow system or System 2 which is more deliberate and effortful. You find that many bad decisions result from people simply going along with their System 1 without giving it a second thoughts. Slowing down and questioning your intuitions gives your System 2 a chance to catch up and possibly make your decisions better.

Develop a Learn-it-all mindset

I think it’s Albert Einstein who said “I am just passionately curious”. A learn-it-all mindset as opposed to the more familiar know-it-all mindset means you’ll never fall prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect and you’ll always keep growing no matter how successful or smart you become and you don’t claw back your gains. It is a well-known fact of biology that whatever organism stops growing starts dying


I hope this guide on how to get smarter helped a lot. Let me know in the comments if you’re ready to ace that examination waiting for, or ready to tackle on a difficult project.

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