It may not be that intelligence is a measurable quality. We establish IQ scores, true, but these scores are not set in stone. Our brain is like any other muscle, if it is exercised, it grows stronger and more agile. Therefore, it may not even be accurate to assume that one person is necessarily smarter than another. With proper mental exercise and training, you could surpass someone supposedly smarter than you.
Chess, for example, has been established to raise a person’s IQ level. The exercise of the brain in such intensity is bound to create a more intelligent person. But then, did this person get smarter, or did he merely unlock intelligence he already possessed?
Another common mistake is confusing knowledge for intelligence. The more you know, the more people assume you’re smart. This is not necessarily true. We all know of people who did poorly in school who went on to achieve great things intellectually. Knowledge is important, no doubt, but it is not necessarily an indication of intelligence. A good memory can go a long way to mask weak intelligence.
And possessing intelligence is not the most important mental skill to possess. There are three mental facets that everyone needs to consider. Intelligence is merely one of them. A list of important mental qualities would be this:
2. Understanding (intelligence)
Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. It is impossible to be smart about something that you know nothing about. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts, truths, and information. All mental acuity starts right here. The more you know, the more your brain has to work with. Intelligent people do know a lot. This doesn’t make them smarter. It provides their intelligence with tools to work with which allows the use of their intelligence.
So in that respect, people who do know more seem to be more intelligent. This is because they have given their mind tools and information to work with.
I prefer the concept of ‘understanding’ to that of ‘intelligence’. The idea of understanding is a more accurate picture of what intelligence is. To define intelligence, therefore, it would be the ability to understand the relationships between facts, truths, and information. The ability to piece together associations and interactions of things, to gain insight into a particular function, and to understand consequences is the essence of intelligence.
This is why a game like chess can increase your IQ level. Chess, along with other puzzle exercises, helps you understand the relationships of the variables around you and how they work together or work against each other. This will give you the ability to foresee possibilities and to take appropriate action.
Wisdom, however, is the most essential aspect of our mental facilities. It is taking the knowledge and understanding (intelligence) that you possess and making right decisions that effect and affect the people and circumstances around us.
Take a guy who understands all of the dynamics, physics, and mechanics of an umbrella. Yet if he doesn’t have the wisdom to open it during a rain storm, his knowledge and intelligence is wasted. The ultimate goal of your knowledge and intelligence is to make wise decisions in life that will better your marriage, child rearing, and relationships.
I’m a Christian. As such, when I read the Bible, I see that wisdom is the principle thing (Proverbs 4:7). But along with that wisdom, you must have understanding. Without understanding, you can’t have wisdom. Without knowledge, you won’t provide your intelligence with the tools to work with.
So yes, you can increase your intelligence in this fashion. In fact, you can continue to increase it for the rest of your life.
There are two factors that help a person to become smarter:
1. Gain more knowledge.
2. Participate in exercises that build understanding of the relationships between facts, people, and information.
Do these two things and you’ll become smarter. Hopefully, that intelligence will then demonstrate itself in wisdom.
Allow me to give you a Biblical example. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:3 – A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Because this man has knowledge and understanding of how something works, he can predict the coming evil. He then can make a wise decision to avoid that evil. But the simple—the ones who lack both knowledge and understanding—continue blissfully on and get hurt.
This doesn’t have to be you.
Greg S. Baker is a pastor and counselor with over a decade of experience.
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