You might be under the impression that a person’s intelligence is predetermined based on genetics or other factors… in other words, you are either smart or you are not. But research tells us that’s not the case at all. In fact, the data shows how we approach situations and how we feed our brains can significantly improve our mental horsepower. You just need to be willing to learn. If you want to know how to become smarter, read through the tips below and see which ones you can start applying right away!

1. Read every day

One of the best and easiest things you can do to be smarter every day is to make reading a habit. Okay, this is not exactly a shocker, and opinions vary on what’s the best brain-boosting reading material, with suggestions ranging from developing a daily newspaper habit to picking up a variety of fiction and nonfiction, but everyone seems to agree that quantity is important. Reading presents tons of opportunities for stretching our brain capacity. It provides practical assistance by introducing new vocabulary and is an alternative way to make our brains travel to a new place.

2. Journal daily lessons

Another important strategy to become more intelligent is to write down what you learn on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be pretty or long, but taking a few minutes each day to reflect in writing about what you learned is sure to boost your brainpower. A common suggestion is to write 300 to 400 words a day on things that you learned (don’t get hung up on word count though, just write something!). The act of writing down lessons learned will also help commit new knowledge to memory.

3. Be smarter about your time spent online

My general rule is to first try doing something myself that I could easily rely on my smartphone to do for me, like calculating a tip. But that’s not always realistic in today’s technologically driven world. However, you can be smarter about your online time. For example, every online break doesn’t have to be about checking social networks and viewing your daily ration of cute animal pics. An easy way to get smarter every day is to replace a few minutes of skateboarding dogs with something more mentally nourishing.

4. Play smart games

Puzzles and board games like Scrabble, Bridge, Chess, and Connect 4 aren’t just fun. They are also a great way to work out your brain. One of the recommended daily habits is playing Sudoku with my morning coffee. Over time, you would have worked my way up to the expert level, and taking 10-20 minutes every morning gets the brain started and gives a sense of readiness to take on the challenges of my workday. This is one of the most fun ways to get smarter each day!

5. Hang out with smart people

One of the best and fastest ways to become smarter is to spend time with people who challenge you intellectually. It has been said that your IQ is the average of the five closest people you hang out with, so make sure your close circle includes some really bright people. It is important to spend as much time as possible with people who are very bright and think much differently than I do. You may not understand all of their conversations, but by listening to them it’s certain that you are getting smarter on a daily basis.

6. Do random new things

To create new neural pathways and become more intelligent, it’s critical for us to continually incorporate new experiences and information into our lives. Whether this means visiting in a new coffee shop, taking a different route to work, taking an art class, or traveling to a different country, displacement is good for the brain. This might be difficult to recognize in the moment since it usually feels rather awkward – at least initially. Adjusting to these new elements forces the brain to tackle new, unexpected challenges.