How To Think Like a Genius | Mike Byster | TEDxNaperville

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How to Think Like a Genius

Three Methods:

You don’t have to be Leonardo DaVinci or Albert Einstein to think like a genius. There are plenty of ways to hone your creativity and sharpen your critical thinking skills. Try letting your mind wander without judging your thoughts. Question conventional wisdom, and aim for deeper levels of knowledge than mere memorization. Work on developing good habits, such as writing down your ideas and balancing downtime and being productive. Seize opportunities to learn, and don’t forget to provide your mind with the fuel and rest it needs.


Adopting Creative Thinking Strategies

  1. Let your mind wander without judging your ideas.Take some time every day to let your mind run free. Brainstorm, daydream, or just relax and contemplate life. Don’t assess or evaluate your thoughts, even if they seem silly - just let your imagination run wild.
    • For example, suppose you start thinking about a cloud city that hovers hundreds of feet in the air. Don’t just judge it as impossible and stop thinking about it. Imagine details like how the people there live, how the city manages to stay in the sky, and how people get to the city from the ground. You might come up with a great idea for a novel or even a new technology!
    • You can also put on some music while you let your mind wander. As long as it’s not too loud, ambient noise can help encourage creativity.
  2. Think critically and question conventional wisdom.Great ideas sometimes fly in the face of conventional wisdom, so think outside of the box and open doors others ignore. Instead of blindly accepting something as true, ask questions and approach information critically.
    • Blindly accepting something just because an authority figure says it’s true isn’t a good way to learn. When someone tells you something is absolutely true all of the time, try to imagine exceptions to the rule.
  3. Use diagrams and images to visualize problems.Albert Einstein famously used images and visual thought experiments to solve problems.When you’re confronted with an abstract problem or feel like your thoughts are jumbled, use visual aids to help see the bigger picture.
    • Flowcharts, thought bubbles, venn diagrams, and mind maps are great visual tools. They can help you organize information and spot connections between concepts that you might not have noticed.
  4. Aim for creative knowledge instead of simple memorization.The psychologist Benjamin Bloom developed a framework called Bloom's Taxonomy, which breaks down the six levels of thinking. The updated version scales learning categories from remembering information to creating something new. The point is that you shouldn’t settle for simply recalling facts, but aim to use information to produce original work.
    • Suppose you read a short story. You remember a detail about the story, understand the plot, and speculate why a character did something. To dig deeper, you consider how you would do something differently and evaluate the story’s moral. At the deepest level of thinking, you use what you’ve learned to produce something of your own, like a song or poem that tells the story in a different way.

Developing Helpful Habits

  1. Let your subconscious do the work during downtime.Spend a half hour or so zoning out to give your conscious mind a rest. Play solitaire, meditate, or do some other activity that doesn’t require hard thinking.
    • Even though you’re not aware of it, giving your conscious mind a break can give your subconscious some room to make innovative connections.
  2. Be productive.While some downtime is good, you won’t get anywhere if you just sit around all day. Practice makes perfect, so do something productive related to the type of genius you want to cultivate every day.
    • If you want to be an exceptional musician, practice your instrument as much as possible. If you want to be a great novelist, try to write a story every day. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
    • Consider the well-known 10,000 hour rule. In order to master something, you need lots of regular, deliberate practice. It doesn’t mean anyone can do anything if they practice long enough. Rather, if you have a natural ability, you need to work hard at honing your talent.
  3. Write down your ideas.Do your best to write down a journal entry every day. Keep a small pad and pen handy so you can note random ideas that you might want to explore further.
    • Even if a random thought isn’t totally formed, writing it down will help you keep it in mind instead of just forgetting about it. Given some time, you might mull it over and bring it into focus. Eventually, it could turn into an inspiration for a work of art, an invention, or a solution to a problem at work, school, or in your personal life.
  4. Make connections with a broad range of people.The idea that a genius is a solitary, isolated figure is a myth. Inspiration and innovation don’t happen in a vacuum. Having frequent conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and mentors will expose you to a range of perspectives and give you more grist for your mill.
    • Do your best to socialize with people outside of your comfort zone. Try starting a conversation with someone at work or school whom you don’t know very well. You could also volunteer or join a new club or activity to meet new people.
  5. Go for walks regularly.Walking isn’t just a form of physical exercise. Whether outside or on a treadmill, walking boosts creative thinking. Further, creative juices keep flowing even after you’ve finished your walk.
    • A daily 30 minute walk is great for your physical and mental health. If you’ve hit a wall and have a mental block, try going for a 30 minute walk, then go back to your work.

Enriching Your Mind

  1. Figure out your learning style.Some people are visual learners, while others are better listeners. Whether you’re learning something new at school, work, or on your own, try to notice when something really sticks and when you have a harder time processing something.
    • For instance, you might find that information goes in one ear and out the other when you can’t read along or see visual aids. When someone teaches you how to do something, you might find it easier to learn by doing that task instead of hearing about it.
    • When someone tries to teach you something, let them know how to present information in a way you can digest.
    • When learning on your own, go for media, such as YouTube videos or podcasts, that fit your learning style.
  2. Educate yourself about diverse topics.Learning about a broad range of topics can help you get a bird’s eye view of how things work. From documentaries to how-to articles, there are plenty of resources at your disposal. As you learn about different disciplines, think about how they connect to one another.
    • For example, suppose you watch a documentary about how hurricanes form. You might think to yourself that a hurricane looks like a galaxy and wonder about how the laws of physics shape things like hurricanes and galaxies. Look for connections and let one topic lead you to another.
    • Remember to tailor educational resources to your learning style. If you’re a visual learner, documentaries and guides on Netflix and YouTube could be great options. If your ears are great at soaking up information, listen to podcasts, like StarTalk, TEDTalks, or Radiolab.
  3. Read as much as you can.While there are diverse media at your disposal, don’t discount the value of the written word. Reading spurs the imagination, improves concentration, and strengthens critical thinking skills.
    • If you’re not interested in reading a long novel, pick up a book of short stories. Try reading the newspaper, essays, poetry, or magazines (such as science, technology, or arts publications).
  4. Maintain your physical health.Thinking takes a lot of energy, so it’s important to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough sleep. If you don’t maintain your physical health, you could have trouble concentrating and coming up with new ideas.
    • You can find your daily nutrition requirements, recipe tips, and other resources on MyPlate: .
    • Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Try walking, running, or riding your bike.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Do smart people make mistakes? How do they overcome them?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Everybody makes mistakes. Learning from your mistakes is the smartest thing you can do.
  • Question
    Does a genius come naturally? Or can a normal person become a genius?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It depends. Some people develop it early in their life, but with hard work most people can become extremely knowledgeable or talented in a certain area.
  • Question
    What do I do if the education system doesn't support my genius thinking?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Just do your own thing. Go to the school for attendance. Work on your own goals in your own time. Be deeply involved in the subjects of your liking. Start doing the extra work that you want to do and try to find other students who are like you and are interested in same things as you.
  • Question
    Is it good to take extra classes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, it is always good to extend your knowledge. Indeed, take classes that challenge you, not just classes you're comfortable with. Do critical thinking, moral thinking, ethics and accountability, society focused subjects that force you to really think hard.
  • Question
    How can I tell others that I am a genius?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Don't go around saying that you are a genius, let people see that you are a genius. Do genius things that help them or astound them, then let them figure it out. It's much nicer for people to congratulate you on your genius ways than to hear them grumbling about your big ego.
  • Question
    How can I overcome distractions while studying?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Tidy up the area where you'll be studying. Have only your pen, pencil, eraser, and assignment on your desk. Check out this article for further tips on how to stay focused: .
  • Question
    Can a weak student in study become a genius?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, though you'll probably want to select an area and specialize in it. One of the greatest minds in history, Einstein, was a weak student in school.
  • Question
    How do I keep up with the other talented students?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    How do I use my genius altruistically?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Think of things that can help improve the life of people. Look Into the everyday lives of others and take note of their challenges or difficulties and think of how you can solve those problems.
  • Question
    What is the key attribute of genius, an excellent memory or an analytical mind? Is our memory suffering from over reliance on electronics?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    An analytic mind is probably more important, given that some geniuses have poor memories. A good memory does make learning easier, but the jury's still out on whether electronic devices are an overall boon or curse.
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