The 9 Types of Intelligence: How to Become Smarter at Any Age

how to become smarterBefore looking for ways to become smarter, we should probably take a moment and reflect on what “being smart” actually mean to us? We frequently use phrases as “book smart”, “life smart”, and “street smart”. Then there is “social intelligence”, “emotional intelligence”, and “IQ”. These are very different types of intelligence and it is up to YOU to decide which one you would prefer to have or develop.

Because, let’s face it, you can be a computer genius but have zero people skills. Or you can drop out of college in your first year and then open a successful business and make twice the money than your friends with university degrees. Or maybe you may not think of yourself as a “highly intelligent person”, yet other people constantly turn to you for advice and support.

I’m sure that you can think of at least 10 different people that are smart in their own way. This is not just my theory. Harvard Professor Dr. Howard Gardener believes this too. He has even developed a theory of multiple intelligences, pointing out 9 different ways we can be smart. Note, that just a small part of these intelligences is incorporated in IQ tests.

So if you have been wondering why math was never your strong side or why you could never seem to learn anything by just reading about it, you may find your answers in this post.

Here are the 9 Different Types of Intelligence that you could already possess or can work on:

1. Linguistic – Good with Words

This type of intelligence reflects your ability to read, write, and tell stories, express your feelings on paper and learn new languages. People with good linguistic abilities tend to learn best by reading, taking notes, listening to lectures, and by discussing and debating what they have read about.

You know that you have a high verbal intelligence if:

• You enjoy writing
• People tell you that you “have a way with words”
• You are a good public speaker
• You like telling jokes
• You are great at explaining things
• You enjoy learning new words and their origins
• You memorize foreign words easily
• You are good at remembering words along with dates
• You feel that there is a book inside you and actually want to write it one day

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen this ability:

• Do crossword puzzles
• Start learning a new language
• Sign up for a toastmasters class
• Start your own blog or begin a journal
• Read more classic books and novels

2. Spatial – Good with Pictures and Space

This type of intelligence deals with our spatial judgment and the ability to understand and visualize the special world around us. People with strong spatial intelligence have a good sense of direction, hand-eye coordination, vivid imagination and visual memory. The best way for them to study something is by looking at charts and pictures, making mind maps and writing outlines.

You know that you have a high spatial intelligence if:

• You like doing puzzles
• You can easily find your way in a new location
• You preferred geometry over algebra at school
• You doodle or draw when listening to a lecture or a seminar
• You can visualize your goals perfectly
• You like decorating your home
• You are great at matching different types of clothes and jewelry together

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen your spatial intelligence:

• Provide directions from the passenger seat
• Play with jigsaw puzzles and Lego
• Sign in for a sculpture class
• Take more pictures during trips
• Try guided meditation and different visualization techniques

3. Logical-mathematical – Good with Numbers

Logical and mathematical intelligence represents the traditional concept of “intelligence,” and it is the type of intelligence that is usually measured during IQ tests. This area has to do with logic, abstract and critical thinking as well as reasoning and numbers.

You know that you have a high logical-mathematical intelligence if:

• You can perform complex calculations in your mind
• You enjoy solving mysteries and logic problems
• You like to put things in their places
• You like to figure out how things work
• You’re good with computers and strategy games
• You try to find patterns, and categorize things
• Math was relatively easy for you

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen your logical intelligence:

• Practice Sudoku and play memory games
Watch TED videos and documentaries. They have been proven to rise IQ by 6 to 4 points.
• Look for the big picture when approaching any problem.
• De-stress and don’t let emotions control your decision making
• Hang out with people who have strong logical-mathematical skills
• Practice counting the change at the cash register in your mind

4. Bodily-kinesthetic – Good with Activities

This type of intelligence also includes body movements, a sense of timing, and the ability to practice certain physical skills until they become automatic. People with strong bodily-kinesthetic intelligence seem to learn better when moving around and by doing something physically, rather than by reading or hearing about it.

You know that you have a high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence if:

• You talk with your hands
• You’re good at sports
• You enjoy performing and acting
• People tell you that you’re funny
• You like to build things
• You have great balance
• You are a pro at action video games
• You can dance well

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen your bodily-kinesthetic intelligence:

• Practice Yoga and Active meditation
• Make your own Christmas gifts
• Learn tai chi or try other sports that require hand-eye coordination

5. Musical – Good With Music and Rhythm

This area is closely connected with auditory learning. People with a strong musical intelligence have high sensitivity to rhythm, pitch and tone of voice. Their musical talents allows them to sing well, play musical instruments as well as learn to speak foreign languages without any accent.

You know that you have a high musical type of intelligence if:

• You are always humming something when doing household chores
• You drum your fingers when you think or concentrate
• You can figure out how to play a tune on an instrument
• You notice patterns
• You remember old songs
• You have a great auditory memory
• People tell you that “you have an ear” for music

Here are a few ideas on how to strengthen your musical intelligence:

• Stay quiet for a few minutes each day and just listen to the sounds around you.
• Learn the lyrics of songs in different languages
• Listen to classical music when working

6. Interpersonal – Good with People.

The concept of Interpersonal intelligence is very close to that of Emotional Intelligence first explained by Daniel Goleman. Put simply interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people’s moods, body language, feelings and motivations. Individuals with strong interpersonal intelligence learn best through co-operation with other people, brainstorming sessions and discussions.

You know that you have a high interpersonal intelligence if:

• Sometimes you feel like a mind reader
• You’re a good listener
• You understand what drives people and how to motivate them
• People tell you that you have great “communication skills”
• You enjoy deep conversations
• You are easy to talk to
• People come to you for relationship advice
• You can work in sales or manage other people

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen your interpersonal intelligence:

• Practice active listening
• Learn about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
• Work on your Emotional Intelligence quotient (here are a few ways to do that)
• Hang out and brainstorm with other people when you need to find creative solution for a problem
• Learn more about non-verbal communication (here is a great resource)

7. Intrapersonal – Good with Analyzing Things

Intrapersonal intelligence has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities that many authors, psychologists and counselors often rely on. People with strong intrapersonal intelligence have a deep understanding of their inner world and a clear idea about their strengths and weaknesses. They can correctly predict their reactions and their feelings in response to most situations.

You know that you have a high intrapersonal intelligence if:

• You have an ability to break down complicated ideas into simple concepts
• People often tell you that “you are overthinking things”
• You can not put down a good book
• You are self-critical
• You second-guess your decisions
• You often catch yourself daydreaming

Here are a few ideas on how to become smarter and strengthen your intrapersonal intelligence:

• Take a few minutes each day to get to know yourself
• Become aware of your reactions to negative situations
• Try right-brain thinking (writing a question with your right hand and answering with your left)
• Meditate

8. Naturalistic – Good at Understanding Nature

Our intelligence may not only evolve around self-knowledge and understanding of people around us, but also encompass our natural surroundings. For example, people with high naturalistic intelligence are curious about the nature and all living things. They may often dream about living close to nature, growing their own food and having domestic animals.

You know that you have a high intrapersonal intelligence if:

• You like the wilderness
• You are deeply concerned about the environment
• You stop to look at bugs
• You categorize things
• You read about explorers
• You enjoy learning more about plants and animals

Here are a few ideas on how to become more nature-smart:

• Spend more time in the great outdoors
• Start a gardening project
• Volunteer to help at an animal shelter
• Read about classifications of animals and plants with your kids

9. Existential – Spiritual Intelligence

Existential intelligence is closely linked to our spiritual growth, lifetime goals and our ability to understand and fulfill our purpose. People with this ability align their goals with higher purpose, try to explore questions about life, death, and what lies beyond the subjective perspective.

You know that you have a high existential intelligence if:

• You found the answer to the question “Why am I here”
• Your main focus is on spiritual growth
• You easily forgive people that have hurt you in some way
• You trust Universe/God to guide your life
• You believe that everything that happens to you happens for a reason

Here are a few ideas on how to strengthen your existential intelligence:

• Regularly practice prayer and meditation
• Read books about the life of spiritual leaders and saints
• Practice compassion

Keep in mind that you can be strong in several types of intelligence!
Which ones seem to be your strongest sides? What do you have to work on to become smarter?

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  • Mike

    Great article! I’d be interested to have some sort of assessment that measured which of these are my strongest.

  • Arina

    Thank you, Mike! They have some tests that allow you to identify your strongest intelligence sides. Here is one of them:
    http://www.literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html

    It’s a little too simplistic, but it will still give you a general idea of where you stand. :)

  • http://twitter.com/mg555 Meditationguru

    Great post. No doubt you can become smarter and develop more intelligence at any age. Living in the present moment will free your mind from all worries and tensions and then your brain will function in more smarter ways.

  • EliseCaile

    It’s not bad, but it misses the mark on a few areas. Say, 80% of a characteristic
    applies, yet the other 20% seem way off base or they are too generalized to know if they truly describe you.

    Overall it’s an interesting topic and well-written. It’s worth reading, and I suspect few can fulfill all requirements all the time. Therefore, I personally would suggest adding a reasonable percentage of meeting these requirements, which would make it easier for the reader to know if they truly belong in certain categories.

    Cheers!

    • PD

      can anyone please tell me what does ‘writing a question with your right hand and answering with your left’ actually mean??
      Thank you