Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Always consult with your physician before beginning any supplement program. Unless you’re like me and
think know that all most physicians are hacks.
Despite making effortless As in high school and undergrad, I never felt like I actually understood anything. The stress of cramming the night before an important test was always sufficient to help me get good grades, but I would forget the information the next day.
Reading was impossible. My eyes would pass over the words but nothing would sink in. I recall reading a book on Charlemagne during my senior year of undergrad. I made it about 20 pages in before asking myself, “What am I even reading?” This was not an uncommon experience. High school and undergrad were a daze, to the point where I barely remember anything from ages 12-23.
I’ve been interested in self-improvement since I was 18. I’ve read every article on Google for “How to Increase Intelligence,” “How to Get Smarter,” and every variation thereof. Most of them are bunk. When I got to law school, I quickly realized that I needed to step up my game if I was ever going to make it. Here are the ten things that have helped me most.
1. Believe it’s possible
If you’ve performed even a cursory Google search for “How to Get Smarter” or something of the like, you will quickly find many recent studies that suggest getting smarter is within your reach. In short, scientists used to believe that intelligence was fixed, but they have recently discovered the existence of neurogenesis, which refers to our brains’ ability to grow new brain cells, even if we’re already adults. If you believe something is possible, then it’s a lot easier to take steps toward achieving it.
I’ve written about the benefits of meditation before. While I don’t think getting smarter is the primary benefit, it is certainly a benefit. When you train your mind to focus on your breathing, or your body, or a mantra, or whatever, for twenty or thirty minutes at a whack, there is a spillover effect. It’s easier to pay attention in class, and you can suddenly make sense of what you’re reading—even if you’re reading boring casebooks.
NoFap is an incredibly difficult challenge. I’ve detailed some of my experiences on the program. Though I’ve never made it a full 90 days, I have certainly experienced some of the benefits. While the program doesn’t work exactly the same way for any two people, I’ve personally experienced benefits at the 20-30 day mark. It’s as if a fog lifts from your mind. Shit just makes sense. Whenever I make it past 30-or-so days, I begin developing a photographic memory. Not only do I remember key points from cases I’ve read, but I can actually see the text on the page (in my mind). Oftentimes, I can even remember the page number.
Nootropics are, simply put, smart drugs. While a lot of bloggers I read have been touting the benefits of Modafinil, I prefer to use legal nootropics (and Modafinil requires a prescription). Pillscout has written the definitive guide on my personal favorite nootropic. It’s called Noopept, and it’s dirt cheap. I mix it with ALCAR, as Pillscout suggests, and the benefits are remarkable.
Note: this stuff isn’t a Limitless drug. You won’t be mastering Mandarin in two days. However, you will notice a much subtler sharpness in the quality of your thinking. Best of all, you get a lot of mileage out of them. I spent less than $30 on Noopept and ALCAR and have been using them five days a week for the entire semester. I haven’t even finished half of my stash.
5. Other Supplements
Two of my favorite brain boosting supplements are fish oil and ThinkFast. While there is a lot of debate about which fish oil is best, I’ve noticed benefits from all of it, even the cheapest stuff at Walmart. With that being said, my current favorite (for the money) is MegaRed Krill Oil. Again, these supplements won’t turn you into a genius overnight, but they will certainly give you an extra edge. Plus, fish oil has the added benefit of staving off depression.
Brain training has its fair share of supporters (and critics). A year subscription to Lumosity costs somewhere around $80, so it certainly isn’t the cheapest or most effective way to boost your brainpower. However, I have noticed a heightened quality in my thinking since beginning my brain training. Of course, the brain training has coincided with the rest of my overall plan to achieve greater cognition, so it is difficult to pin down exactly how much is attributable to Lumosity. For what it’s worth, the site makes you take a “brain test,” (Lumosity’s equivalent of an IQ score) before you begin training, and again after you’ve been at it a while. When I began in November, I scored a 117 on the brain test. After twenty or so weeks of training, I took it again, and received a score of 135.
7. Read Challenging Books
All of your extra brainpower will go to waste if you aren’t constantly feeding your mind. On the other hand, reading challenging books seems to boost brainpower, so there’s something of a snowball effect. Fortunately for me, there’s no shortage of challenging books in law school, and I regularly read four or more hours per day.
Thinking clearly is a lot easier when you feel good, and nothing makes me feel better than lifting some heavy ass weights. Get to the gym, lift hard, and reap the cognitive (and various other) benefits for the rest of the day.
There’s the old adage, “Gold in, gold out.” While I think it refers mostly to our thoughts and information consumption, it is also applicable to diet. How many times have you eaten Papa John’s pizza and immediately felt like a lobotomized sloth? Eating clean gives your brain optimal nutrition. And “eating clean” probably isn’t what you think. I loosely adhere to the paleo diet, and eat ribeyes fried in bacon grease four or five nights a week. My bodyfat is at 10%, and I never have trouble soaking up information after eating a steak and spinach salad.
Everyone knows sleep is important, but hardly anyone gets enough. Supposedly, fewer than 3% of the population can function optimally on less than 8 hours a night. I’m not entirely sure I buy that (I seem do best on 7.5 hours a night), but I definitely feel like a retard whenever I don’t get enough. Interestingly, I also feel like a retard when I get too much. As with most things in life, the key is moderation. Listen to your body, and make sure you’re getting ample sleep.
There you have it—my 10-point solution to increasing your intelligence. Unfortunately, the results won’t happen overnight. If you keep up with the protocol, however, you will notice a definite change. I promise you won’t be disappointed.