Cbiscuit17: Read. Read every genre. There is a common misconception among people that to grow intellectually, you must read non-fiction/self-help type books. Read whatever you feel like reading, preferably on an e-reader type device, where you can select a word if you don’t understand what it means and it will give you a definition in real time. Reading will also introduce you to new ideas and give you worldly views depending on what you are reading.
Subscribe to useful subreddits. I’m sure you can find a list by searching on google for some subreddits to follow to grow intellectually.
Also, give your body the proper nutrients, exercise, and sleep it needs so you can grow intellectually.
cataveteran: – Proper diet. Drop excess sugar and fat. Start eating fish.
– Focus. And when you notice you’ve lost focus, re-focus. Again and again and again. Don’t let your thoughts wander so badly that you fall behind in completing something such as reading a book.
– Think. Argue with yourself. Think out loud.
– If something seems wrong or off, suggest a better way, but try to avoid telling people too much how to do something. One of the most painful things about being more intelligent than most people is to witness the suboptimal behavior of others. There are often reasons for the behaviors though. See if you can figure why people act and work the way they do.
– Don’t be afraid to be wrong, but be obsessed about correcting your own mistakes, and finding your own flawed and incomplete thoughts.
– Being an intelligent person, or your best self, is no one act. It’s a lifestyle and a never-ending process. You are like an athlete, but the brain is your muscle. You have to feed it and train it. There is no shortcut. Don’t let this demoralize you. You do what you can. It’s all training and improvement. Don’t go too easy on yourself, don’t go too hard.
Axios_Adept: One thing I make a habit of is to intentionally take in content that is from a view point I don’t agree with, keep in mind it still needs to be quality content that is factual. The benefit of this is it makes you think and reason out your viewpoints against opposing views and sometimes you end up finding your opinion changes.
Joser_down: While a lot of posts here are like “just read stuff,” I don’t necessarily agree that you should just read whatever. Reading widely is great, but these days intellectuals without a basic understanding of the sciences (particularly biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology) are easily spotted for their ineptitude of how life itself actually works, and it often invalidates their arguments. You don’t need to go far, just the basics of these subjects are quite rigorous to get your head around.
Take a community college or free online course from MIT or whatever in some of these, one at a time, and I assure you the insight gained will vastly change your outlook on life. And then read widely when you’re relaxing.
bradiation: A lot of people here are saying “just read.” And that’s a great start! Read whatever you want – during your “down time.”
My suggestion would be to start with some classics. That may sound snooty, but they *are* classics for some good reasons. And they don’t have to be “old” classics, so do some quick research on whatever subject you feel like knowing: some fiction may be old, but if you want to know sciences there are probably some great, short, and relatively modern books out there. You can find these by something as simple as organizing your Amazon search by rating.
And when you read these, pause often to indulge in things that pique your interest.
Are you reading Moby Dick (totally random example, I’m not advocating for it)? What stands out to you? Is it how ships are built and run in that period? Take a beat and look into some history of it. Is the idea of an intelligent and vengeful whale interesting to you?Pause Moby, and look into animal intelligence and behavior. Is it more interesting to you how someone could end up as batshit crazy and obsessed as Ahab? Put down the Dick and look into some psychology.
Read modern summaries of the sciences: evolution (Coyne is a good start, and I know that because that’s my field), psychology, physics, philosophy. You can find some amazing short and readable books on every subject.
It’s my opinion (and I may get some disagreements here) that being an “intellectual” isn’t knowing everything. It’s knowing enough to understand how damn near everything connects, how complicated it gets, and being able to narrow a wide array of topics/situations down to manageable pieces. And of course you will have your specialty. That’s your interest. That’s what you decide you want to read the most.
That’s (again, in my opinion) the root of not only the image of intellectuals sitting around arguing (everyone is trying to make connections, but weighted from their own specialties) but also their indecisiveness (everything is complicated! There *is* no “right” answer!).
It’s not a single path. It’s a branching web. It’s a lifelong journey that anyone can do. Good luck!
godminnette2: I agree with lots of what’s being said here. Reading is important, and not just non-fiction (though I’d say you should read about 50/50 fiction non-fiction), but applying that knowledge to your life is important, too.
“Too many scholars think of research as purely a cerebral pursuit. If we do nothing with the knowledge we gain, then we have wasted our study. Books can store information better than we can—what we do that books cannot is interpret. So if one is not going to draw conclusions, then one might as well just leave the information in the texts.” -Jasnah Kholin, the Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson)
Which is why, in my opinion, the first books you should focus on are those of logic and philosophy. Knowing what to use and what to dismiss is first dictated by pure logic, and further whittled by your own personal goals and morals. Even if you already believe you know your philosophies in life, it never hurts to read something that questions them to make sure you’re aware. I don’t think I need to stress the importance of logic, it’s perhaps the most lacking quality in the modern world, especially in the States. People are susceptible to manipulation from the media, which includes books, because they cannot make rational decisions as to what to question and what to accept.
Which brings me to my final piece of advice: if you are at all active politically (which, in my belief, every person should be), read work from the “other side’s” viewpoint. Don’t just read up until you are still able to disprove or argue what they are saying. Often on Reddit I think people stop reading a comment chain when they see their side make a great point, and don’t want to ruin the feeling for themselves. You need to understand why your opposition in an argument feels the way they do, and you need to make sure your understanding isn’t a stereotype or strawman. Talk to people, if not to debate then to understand, and preferably talk to those who also clearly have an understanding of logic and reasoning, because they exist on every side. Growing intellectually is largely about understanding points of view very different from your own. This is one of the fastest ways to accomplish this. I wish you well in your journey, and apologize if my language has turned pompous and “academic,” it happens to me when I talk about these sorts of things, especially after reading quotes from Jasnah Kholin.
*The Better Angels of Our Nature*, Steven Pinker
*Rise of the Robots*, Martin Ford
*Born a Crime*, Trevor Noah (I know he’s a left wing comedy pundit, and I don’t want this to turn overly political, but even if you dislike his stances, he has an interesting story. Besides, I did advise you to read opposing viewpoints anyways. Maybe find a conservative memoir to read also?)
*The Stormlight Archive*, Brandon Sanderson (honestly any book in his Cosmere is fantastic)
Edit: than to then
splildge: watch rick and morty
LithiumEnergy: Wikipedia anything that interests you.
Read anything, period.
Discuss things with other people either IRL or in Reddit communities (especially r/ask[something] communities)
CharlestonChewbacca: Try new things.
When the opportunity to do something comes up, try it. Then, delve into it. Become adept or knowledgeable about that thing. Never really takes more than a few weeks. Don’t get caught up in one place for too long. Keep trying new things. Reading about new things. Watching videos about new things.
prawn108: Assume other people aren’t always lying or idiots when they disagree with you. Try to entertain views that are counter to your own and try to step through the differences. My critical thinking ability and world views changed quite a bit when I realized everyone is seeking truth by different logical processes that can still be consistent, but just based on different principles. You can find quality rationale for just about everything you thought was insane.
thinking_is_too_hard: Watch Rick and Morty /s
GKinslayer: A very important thing to keep in mind – you can be wrong, and even what you read can be wrong. Think critically about all things, including yourself, if you can’t admit to yourself you don’t know much about something, you will often lack the drive to learn.
Another important thing – be curious. Almost all great science came from someone being curious. I sometimes be sitting down and get into a train of thought, and find several things I am not 100% on. So, since I am curious, and I hate not knowing or understanding, I go right on to learn about those things I am not sure of.
maladii: For me reading alone isn’t enough, I need a community to keep me motivated and to help me understand it better. Since I recently graduated and no longer have a guaranteed learning community, I go to Meetup groups that match my intellectual interests. Right now I’m in a literature group and a philosophy group. They’re great because you have to do the reading to participate, which keeps you motivated, and you have to spend time thinking about what you read afterward. An online course could work too, but for me I need the people.
carpeggio: Start a personal feedback loop. This means to observe your own mental capacities and tendencies. This is coined as, “Practicing awareness.” This extends to physical, emotional, and intellectual behavior. You must create an observer identity and start watching yourself in entirety. The feedback loop entails taking those observations and enacting influencing routines that push your behavior to where you want to be. But you have to be able to unbiasedly observe yourself. Sometimes this requires an outside party.
This is taking control of “mind over matter”, creating a foundation to practice self control starts with self-observation.
curtains: Learn to think critically. Start by mastering fallacies of logic. Look up Skeptic’s Guide Top 20 Logical Fallacies for starters.
littlewolf0119: You need life experience and reading. Best way to get life experience quickly is to travel
Seattle-ite: There are a billion things you can do, but taking in more data through greater sources is really the first stepping stone. Experiences in real life carry a lot of value in that they help you to internalize what that acquired data means in the real world. Without internalizing how things logically mesh together, you’re not doing much to push your comprehension into actionable areas. I know plenty of people with advanced degrees that are MUCH simpler people than many I’ve met in trade/s work who also like to learn as a hobby. Having said all that, I do think **History** is a great starting point for most. Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” is a broad resource to begin in order to understand the who/what/why of how we came to be. If you can’t fundamentally grasp our timeline based in facts/evolution over the last ~2k-20k years, how do you not spend a lifetime entrenched by misinformed ‘original’ ideas?
Most people make it as far as ‘building their databank’ and that’s where they stop. That’s how you get heated televised arguments between degreed panelists that don’t even know they’re arguing symptoms/semantics, and not the root of the issue. If you don’t have a good handle on how people ACTUALLY function, you can be prone to all kinds of silly ideas and social pressures of intentions and “Whataboutism-s”. This is the sort of disconnect people will subconsciously ascribe when they evaluate the benefits of a classic ‘nerd’ archetype vs. a fresh business school hire (or product vs. presentation).
The more you grow intellectually, the more depressed and frustrated you may get with the majority of your fellow humans. **Most** people go through **most** of their life without learning about how the world works. I’m still a big believer that some degree of an ignorance/intuition/’grit only’ approach is actually important, in small doses, for a person’s well being.
SpecialJ11: I haven’t seen r/changemyview mentioned. It’s pretty good to see things from multiple perspectives, especially since there’s always someone willing to play devil’s advocate.
LeftHandBandito_: The best way to start is to become extremely open minded to ideas other than your own.
Atillatheblonde: Nootropic brain vitamins from Amazon. Read reviews. Then reach for any subject that interests you, Plato to piano, native people’s to history to tapestries of Medieval Europe. Reach, read, learn. And connect with others interested in the same thing.
faisaed: Reading books on Sociology and astronomy and about current issues and events and having an opinion on them. Be curious about the opinions of others and why they think them. Always keep in mind that you are probably wrong and always seek to perfect your beliefs and knowledge on whichever topic you’re in. Being actively curious and respectful to others’ “stupid” opinions will help you in knowing why you believe what you believe and why you do not believe in whatever you don’t believe in. Good luck!