I’ll define ‘smart’ in this context as the ability to comprehend incoming information.
There are 3 main ways I believe reading makes you smarter.
- Attaining new information
- Practising visualisation
- Stretching of the mind
#1 is quite obvious. If you have knowledge on the subject then you are more likely to understand something i.e you have knowledge of how to read English, hence why you can comprehend this sentence.
#2 is a bit more complicated. Visualisation is often the key to understanding concepts. Often you seem to finally understand something when you just ‘see’ it in your mind’s eye. This is a muscle that can be trained and it was used by Nikola Tesla to great effect.
Reading allows you to train this muscle, particularly if it’s a ‘story-type-book‘ where you can imagine the characters coming to life in your mind’s eye.
#3 is a little harder to explain. Basically, you have certain ways of thinking, a set system of how you articulate your thoughts and process information. This includes all your false knowings too which are not to be confused with beliefs.
Belief = I believe X will win.
Knowing = X won.
When you confront new sentence structures while reading, it literally trains your mind to process information in a new way.
It’s impossible to understand what you read while simultaneously carrying a false knowing. Either you aren’t going to understand or you’re going to let go of your false knowing and open your mind.
If you pick the latter, that false knowing is gone forever, meaning when you confront new information, that lie will no longer prevent you from understanding. Thereby making smarter.
Example of a false knowing:
Being told blue is red. See how this makes no sense? You can’t see or understand how this could be true. Because you know blue is blue. This knowing prevents you from seeing that blue is actually red.
Whether what you know is true or not is irrelevant. As long as you believe it, it’s your experience.
Letting go of the mind’s false knowings is the muscle’s equivalent of becoming more flexible.
Uncomfortable/hard poses, stretch the body. Uncomfortable/hard information stretches the mind.
The more you do this, the less rigid your mind becomes thus becoming more flexible, therefore the easier it will be to understand new information.
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reading is key to this because the more you read, the more chances you get to expose your false knowings. Therefore the more chances you have to remove them.
The more different the material you’re reading is to your default thought pattern/vocabulary, the more of a stretch reading will be for you. The more you stretch the mind, the smarter you will get.
Read unfamiliar books/subjects/authors to achieve this.
Reading isn’t the only way to get smarter of course. If you don’t like reading but still want to get smarter then I’m sure you can come up with creative ways to gain new information, visualise and to stretch your mind!
I’ll finish this article with this reminder:
“Learning never exhausts the mind” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Thank you for reading!