5 Useful Tips to Study Smarter, Not Longer

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Many students study for so many hours, but sometimes it doesn’t pay off as they expected. Is there any solution for this? The answer is “there is.” For decades, scientists and psychologists have been snooping on the top students and doing research on which study habits are most efficient.

Here are some tips you can apply for your future study plan.

1. Test yourself

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Your teachers use quizzes and tests to check on your progress. But you don’t want to find it out at the same time as your teacher. Better to know sooner, so you have time to correct it. Check for yourself before your teachers do. Try to quiz yourself the way the teacher asks questions. Figure out what stuff you don’t quite understand before the test. And check your work for accuracy before you turn it in.

2. Mix it up

In many cases, it helps to mix up your self-studying. Don’t just focus on one thing. Drill yourself on different concepts. Psychologists call this interleaving. Actually, your tests usually will have questions mixed up. More importantly, interleaving can help you learn better. If you practice one concept over and over, your attention decreases because you know what’s coming up next.

Mix up your practice, and you now space the concepts apart. You can also see how concepts differ, form trends, or fit together in some other way. Studies have shown that interleaving can help students with both strong and weak working memory. Working memory lets you remember where you are in an activity, such as following a recipe.

3. Don’t just reread the materials

One of the most common bad study skills that students have is reading their textbooks, worksheets, and notebooks over and over and over again. Too often, when students reread materials, it’s superficial. Rereading is like looking at the answer to a puzzle, rather than doing it yourself.

It looks like it makes sense. But until you try it yourself, you don’t really know if you understand it. This is because you’re not processing it deeply or picking more out of it. It gives you the illusion that you know the material very well, when in fact there are gaps.

4. Use pictures

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Making information visual is useful because it forms associations between bits of information. Images are much richer in information than language, and you must think about all the associations that go into generating an image.

So, with images, you’re actually growing more connections as you learn. Images can encapsulate a lot of information in a very small amount of visual display. Yet, that’s not to say that text is not important.

The key concept here is known as “dual coding”, presenting information in written and visual formats. Consuming information in this way can boost learning.

5. Use examples

Abstract concepts can be hard to understand. It tends to be far easier to form a mental image if you have a concrete example of something. For instance, sour foods usually taste that way because they contain acid.

On its own, that concept might be hard to remember. But if you think about lemon or vinegar, it’s easier to understand and remember that acids and sour go together. And the examples might help you to identify other foods’ tastes as being due to acids.

With these tips, you can save a lot of time while studying and process the materials way more efficiently.

If you have your secret study tips as well, share them with us in the comments below!

5 Tips to Achieve What You’ve Always Wanted

Cardboard boxes
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Are you someone who aspires to achieve things but finds it difficult to take any action? Most likely you are stuck in the overthinking cycle, where you are too cautious before taking a step ahead.

Thoughts are essential, but you also need action. Taking action isn’t easy, especially if external factors affect you more than your internal drive. Zig Ziglar rightly said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. You may get nervous and feel like procrastinating. It is okay to feel that way and you cannot do much about it.

But once you start acting, this feeling can automatically convert to that of adrenaline. For example, do you remember when you plan to go jogging early in the morning, but you just find it difficult to get out of bed? Once you are out of bed and running, you begin to feel the runner’s high. The same goes for any other action. The mood will follow the action.

So here are some tips to get you going:

1. Deliver on your promises

Quite often we promise ourselves or those around us that we will do something. But over a period of time if we don’t see immediate results, we get less enthusiastic. Don’t let that happen. Deliver on your promises in terms of the efforts you put in, irrespective of the final result.

2. Show up

Hand to the elbow holding a grey bag
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The biggest indicator of a winning attitude is showing up no matter how you feel. This attitude should be a core value to you. For example, there might be days when you don’t feel like attending your regular classes. Do it anyhow. It may happen that you are not focused during the class. But make sure you write down the notes so that you can go back and study on your own.

3. Put things into perspective

Most of the time overthinking makes you exaggerate things and circumstances in your mind. So instead of worrying about everything, categorize them based on whether they really matter to you in the long term. For example, if you score less in a school exam, don’t feel disheartened. Don’t give up just yet. Think from the long term perspective. If you were considering the next 5 years, would your scores matter more or your learning?

4. Stop waiting for perfection

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We grow up in a society where we worship perfection. It doesn’t have to be the best or nothing at all. Things are not black and white. So, stop waiting for the day when you are perfect. Instead, start to get better at doing something while you’re doing it. The only thing that matters is how better you are today as compared to yesterday.

For example, most of us fear solving past year papers because we are scared that we are not fully prepared for them. That day of perfection might never occur. That doesn’t mean you should give up on solving those papers. In fact, the learnings you get from those papers will help you in scoring better at the exams. The mistakes you commit will help you avoid them in the future.

5. Put a timer to work

Hard work is not bad, but it has to be time-bound. Without any timeline, you may end up spending more time on something where it was not required and less time on something where it was required. So, plan your day in the morning or the previous night and try to stick to the plan as far as possible.

Even if you can follow just 50% of it, you will still be better off than without a plan. If you find yourself losing focus or overthink while studying, write down your thoughts on a piece of paper, set aside 5-10 minutes just for thinking and think only during that time. This will allow your mind to fully focus on the task at hand and finish it within time.

Of course, you’ve got to know what you are doing and you’ve got to plan. But you’ve got to also do it. So get into action, and results will follow! What are you waiting for?

If you found these tips useful please do let us know in the comments below.

Science Isn’t Just For Nerds Anymore!

Science is part of every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. However, no matter how hard our teachers try, our school textbooks simply are unsuccessful in developing our interest in it. Certainly, studying science is part of our curriculum, but what if there was a way to enjoy studying it?

Here are some hacks that will make science more interesting to you.

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1. Focus on the problem solving:

Science, just like other subjects, may seem boring if you focus only on the theory. The real beauty of science lies in its application. So, focus more on solving problems that can help you understand science better.

For example, instead of just reading theory about projectile motion, try to solve a real-world problem that needs you to calculate the distance a ball will travel when thrown horizontally with a certain speed.

2. Find science camps and workshops:

Science camps are great ways for you to explore science while interacting with other children. These camps provide hands-on learning opportunities by involving you in extracurricular activities and experiments.

During the pandemic, camps might not be conducted offline, but there are a lot of programs that take place virtually. Just look up ‘kids science camps’ on the internet or event listing pages and you will be able to find some good ones.

3. Follow science channels:

What better way to cultivate an interest in science than by exploring interesting facts and staying updated on the latest developments? You can find plenty of online resources for free. Based on your interest you can choose to follow the technical ones or even the ones for the general public. You can check out some of the below links for reference:
– Veritasium on YouTube
– TedEd on YouTube

4. Form a study group:

Science is more fun when you have a group of like-minded people. Form a small study group with friends who share an interest in science. You can make it fun by deciding a weekly topic and having a discussion on it on the weekends.

Another way is to find some good science-related documentaries and watch them together. At the end of it, you can discuss the learnings you had or what fascinated you about it.
5. Take a hike:

Just go for a walk-in nature with your friends or family. If you have an interest in nature or biology, actively observing habitats, geology, and more can provide valuable knowledge. It is a great way to have fun while learning science.

You can also note down your observations in a journal. If you are on the creative side, you can also take some pictures or even draw them. Engaging in this interactive form of learning will undoubtedly benefit you in the long run.

Science is a subject that doesn’t always come easy, but it can be fun if you approach it in interesting ways as shared above. Are you using textbooks as your only source of study? What are some innovative ways you use while studying science? Let us know in the comments below.

A Power Nap Can Actually Boost Your Productivity

On a long stressful day, what’s a better way to recharge than to take a quick power nap? Despite its known benefits, most of us feel guilty about adopting this unique productivity tool. However, even famous people like Einstein, Winston Churchill, JFK, and Leonardo da Vinci were all fans of the afternoon brain shut down.

So obviously it must not be a completely bad thing, right? In this article, we will cover the top benefits and some tips that can help you make the best out of this productivity practice.

cat taking a nap
Take a power nap
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Benefits of Power Napping:

1. Reduces sleepiness:

It might not be possible for all of us to get a continuous 8–9 hours of sleep every day. A lot of times even if we do manage to get that sleep, we do not feel that refreshed in the morning. A quick power nap can help you overcome this energy downfall and rejuvenate you for the day ahead.

2. Improves memory and cognition:

Research shows that an afternoon nap can help you feel more rested and alert. Longer naps can also help in improving your memory and cognition. So, for example, if you are thinking of really stretching your day just before exams, that might not be useful for you. When you feel really tired and drowsy during the afternoon, taking a short nap might benefit you more.

3. Regulates emotions:

Remember feeling cranky due to lack of sleep and having a lot of tasks at hand? A quick power nap does a better job in this situation rather than having coffee. Having coffee or anything that can instantly boost your energy might actually worsen your mood. So don’t hesitate to invest those 10–20 minutes at least in order to feel better.

Power Napping Tips:

1. Nap at the right time and for the right duration:

For most people, the duration of 10–20 minutes works the best, typically known as the power nap. The reasoning lies in the sleep cycle. The more you increase the duration the worse you will feel after waking up from the nap. This is because they may wake up from a deeper stage of sleep, which occurs later in the cycle, and feel fuzzy-headed.

Also, try to take a nap in the early afternoon. Research shows a nap taken any time between 1:00 pm to 4:00 PM will coincide with one of the energy dips you feel throughout the day. Thus, it will not have a negative impact on your overall sleep cycle and you will maintain a fine balance of your sleep cycles.

2. You don’t need to fall asleep:

For a lot of people falling asleep doesn’t happen in the flip of a moment. It might take up to 14 minutes or even more to actually fall asleep. So don’t worry about it.

What actually matters is that you close your eyes and let your body and mind relax. Also napping is a skill you will be able to develop over a period of time as and how you practice.

3. Find the right place:

The quality of sleep or nap also depends on how comfortable you are in the sleeping position. So, it matters where you are sleeping and what your body posture is while sleeping.

Choose a place that has minimal noise and more comfort. You need not always be in bed to take a nap. A comfortable chair or just lying down on the desk can do an equally good job.

For most people sleeping adequately and taking rest when required helps them feel better and improve their productivity. Instead of avoiding napping altogether, doing it with certain things in mind can help you get the most out of it.

Are you a napper or a non-napper? Do let us know in the comments below!


The Golden Ratio is Real!

Have you ever thought about the patterns observed in nature? If you carefully notice, the number of petals in any flower, the number of fingers we have, or even the arrangement of the sunflower seeds, all follow a certain pattern.

The proportions we see therein can be described using a unique ratio known as the “golden ratio.” The famous Fibonacci sequence approximates the golden ratio. Let’s find out more about it!

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What is the Fibonacci sequence?

1. The history:

The Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, later known as Fibonacci, gives his name to the Fibonacci numbers. In his book Liber Abaci, Fibonacci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics. However, ancient Sanskrit texts that used the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, prove that it was known much before that.

2. The mathematics:

In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers commonly denoted Fn, form a never-ending sequence, called the Fibonacci sequence. In the sequence, each number is simply the sum of the two preceding numbers, starting from 0 and 1. 

The Fibonacci sequence is:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …

Adding the two preceding numbers (1+1) gives us 2, (1+2) gives us 3, (2+3) gives us 5, and so on. The ratio of the adjacent numbers consistently comes out to be ~1.618, represented by the Greek letter phi, Φ.

3. The golden ratio in nature:

The golden ratio is also sometimes known as the divine proportion because it is commonly found in so many things in nature. Common examples are the branching of trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the number of petals on a flower, the fruitlets of a pineapple, the seeds of sunflowers, the human ear and the family tree of honeybees.

Sun rays falling on a cauliflower in a field
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4. The golden ratio in architecture:

Ancient Greek architecture used the golden ratio to create pleasing building designs. The dimensions of the buildings or structures related the width and height using the golden ratio.

To quote some more examples, the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the Parthenon in Greece, the Notre Dame in France and the Taj Mahal in India are also structures that have been found to use the golden ratio. However, it cannot be proven that they were intended to be built that way.

Taj Mahal
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The golden ratio is just one of the many interesting concepts we have in maths.
Would you like to further explore the world of maths and science? Stay tuned for our next blog.

Want to be an All-Rounder? Start Here.

A jack of all trades might be a master of none, but that’s not the only way to look at it. Evidence shows that a lot of successful people are actually good at more than one thing. So, is this age-old belief actually valid and that too in today’s world? Let’s find out!

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Unlike the older times, information is available to anyone who knows where to find it. What matters today is how you use that information to create something meaningful or solve a problem. For example, you don’t need to go through special training to know how to fix a computer. You can learn by watching a video on YouTube. The future is for the people who know how to find knowledge and apply it most effectively.

If you do choose to narrow down your focus only on one thing, you will tend to lose out in the long term. An engineer by profession who gets an A throughout might not be that successful as an average person with a broader range of knowledge. They will have better exposure to opportunities and thus a better chance at winning. So how to become such an all-rounder?

1. Plan your day:

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Most of us are time-squeezed, feeling that we don’t have enough time for all the things we want to do. However, there are always some people who can manage to do it all. Do they have more time?

No, but they know how to time-box their tasks. So instead of skipping those basketball sessions, plan them at a specified time. The rest of the time can be utilized for studies and daily activities.

2. Do what you enjoy:

Small kid playing with basketball
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In life, you cannot always foresee the future. So, you might underestimate the importance of certain things that might not show immediate results. If you like art, music or sports, give the necessary time for it.

Do not sacrifice them for scoring good marks in your exams. These activities are very important from the point of view of your overall development.

3. Learn from an application perspective:

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You don’t need to undertake a Microsoft Excel course to know how to use spreadsheets. But you can easily learn a part of it, say if you look up how to make a line chart out of your test scores.

This is what is known as application-based learning. For a lot of skills, you don’t need in-depth research to get good at them. Learning from an application perspective is good enough for expanding your skill sets.

4. Do not feel left behind:

A lot of parents train their kids from a very young age on specific skills like maths, piano, cricket etc. Of course, there are child prodigies who become a huge success. But being a prodigy is not the requirement to become successful in life.

It is never too late for anyone to start doing what they want. Focus on being a better version of yourself every single day. Everyone’s journey is unique. So, there is no need to compare yourself to others.

5. Just do it:

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90% of the people say they want to do a lot of things but don’t know where to begin. The trick is to just start. Our body is a masterpiece of evolution. Once you start doing something, you’ll keep getting better at it.

So, for example, instead of worrying about whether to take up those dance classes or focus on studies, just start doing both. You might get tired or might find less time to do one thing, but eventually, you will learn to manage both.

To conclude, an all-rounder is simply someone who can do a variety of things well. All you need is consistency and a winning attitude. Do you believe in focussing on one thing or being an all-rounder? Do let us know your perspective in the comments below.

3 Thoughtful Tips for Getting Back on Track With Your Studies

With schools slowly starting over, digital life has become something students dread the most. Not a single day goes by when they are not using their screens. With little chance to go out, most of them are going through a phase where they simply don’t feel like doing anything at all.

In such times, studying can get even more stressful for them. If you can relate to this, we have a very easy technique to share with you, that can help you get back on track with your studies. This technique is known as mindfulness.

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What is mindfulness? How can it help you focus while studying?

Mindfulness is about paying attention and being conscious in the present moment. It means to carefully notice what you are currently experiencing. Through deliberate practice of mindfulness, you will be able to: 

1. Maintain emotional balance
2. Stay calm
3. Re-focus

There are multiple ways in which you can practice mindfulness. In this article, we want to share 3 easy to follow tips that you can use in your daily routine.

Tip 1: Mindful breathing

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One of the ways you can practise mindfulness is through mindful breathing. When you sit down to study, spend a few minutes to become aware of the things around you. Take a few breaths, and focus on the air moving in and out of your body. When you start to study, set a timer for about 30 minutes. Each time you find yourself distracted, pause and take a few deep breaths. Then go back to studying again.

Tip 2: Body Scan

woman sitting in crossed legged position doing mindful body scan of herself
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A relatively easy way to pay attention to the ‘here and now’ is to tune in and be aware of your physical senses. You can do this by first sitting in a comfortable posture, then close your eyes and feel the senses throughout your body.

A lot of times we pay attention to the parts of our body only when we are uncomfortable. It is time we start paying attention to them even when they are functioning normally. Take your attention gradually from your head to your toes, part by part. It will naturally elevate your sense of calmness.

Tip 3: Walking meditation

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Another type of easy-to-follow technique is walking meditation. You can do this by taking a short walk in a quiet environment. Take small steps that make it feel natural rather than an exercise. Try to find a place that has minimal noise pollution and is closer to nature.

As you walk, try to focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted. It can be as simple as focussing on your breath or the movement of your arms and legs. If your mind wanders, quickly try to bring your attention to the present activity.

The key to achieving the results from mindfulness is consistency. Like playing the piano, if you practice every day, you will get great rewards. Distractions are inevitable, so don’t get frustrated and don’t give up.

With some consistent practice, you will surely achieve greater focus and be able to do any task at hand with the highest efficiency. If you are able to implement these tips in your daily study routine, do let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

5 Powerful Strategies for Deeper Learning

Learning can be tough. This is especially true if people generally perceive the subjects under consideration to be tough. Maths and Science are some of the most common examples we can think of in this category. Though most of us undergo some form of basic training in them through our schooling years not many understand them conceptually.

This is because getting successful at them in the long term requires skills like analytical reasoning and complex problem-solving. The type of education that promotes the development of such advanced skills is known as deep learning. However, schools are usually not equipped to handle such requirements. So, what can individuals do to develop deeper learning? Let’s find out.

1. Expose Yourself:
Memory tends to diminish over a period of time. It happens at a faster rate in the initial phases of learning and quite slower later on. This is explained scientifically using the concept of the Forgetting Curve.

The forgetting curve graph

This curve shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. So, the more you phase out your learning and the more times you expose yourself to any information the better you will retain it. Exposing more will also allow you the scope of thinking more and asking more questions. This will eventually lead to a deeper level of understanding of any given topic.

2. Drill the Basics:
Big problems are nothing but a combination of smaller problems. So, the real skill lies in breaking them down into solvable chunks. For that the knowledge and identification of basics are important. The same is true in the case of science and maths. They all seem so easy when studying the basics.

However, when given an application-based problem to solve, it poses a challenge for most of us. The solution is to make sure your foundation is right. Try to look at the concepts from different angles. Ask as many questions as you can. Make your basics so strong that you don’t need to think a lot while trying to identify the building blocks of those big complicated problems.

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3. Slow Down:
Speed is not always great, especially when you are trying to really understand something. So, when you are building your foundation, it is important to slow things down and give your brain ample time to assimilate the concepts. Use multiple modes of learning like writing down what you see or hear or teaching someone what you recently learnt.

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4. Clear your confusion:
Understanding a problem is the first step in solving it. So don’t shy away from something that confuses you. A lot of times confusion is a sign that your brain is really working at it. Understand what confuses you and clarify your doubts before proceeding to the next step. Look it up on the internet, read more about it or talk to your friend or teacher about it. The more questions you ask the better will be your conceptual clarity.

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5. Never Multitask:
Being a multi-tasker is a passé. We never really do multiple things at the same time. Even though we may think so, our brain either doesn’t spend equal amounts of attention on each one of those tasks or one of them might be muscle memory for us. So don’t listen to lyrical songs or watch TV while studying. If you want to take some time off, do it while not studying simultaneously.

These are just a few tips you can implement in your study routines to help you achieve deeper learning. What is your motivation behind learning something? Is it just to pass the tests or get better at what you know? Do share your views in the comments section below.

3 Super Simple Strategies To Boost Your Willpower

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Many times, in a day we have to choose between things we want to do and things we should do. Do you also struggle with choosing between say watching your favourite TV show and revising that important chapter before the next class? You are not alone.

We all have impulses that come in the way of our longer-term well-being and goals. Yet for some, it might seem easier to control themselves while for some it may seem a downward spiral. So, what does it take to have strong willpower? Let’s find out in this article.

The dictionary meaning of willpower is the ability to control one’s own actions, emotions, or urges. However, it is much harder to explain realistically. In simple terms, our willpower instinct is the driving force that reminds us, resists us from temptations, and pushes us forward to do things we are supposed to do.

It largely is a function of the prefrontal cortex part of our brain and is limited in its capacity. Additionally in the technology-driven and globalized world, our willpower gets constantly bombarded due to a huge number of choices, temptations, and distractions. So, what is the way out? Let’s have a look at some strategies you can use on a daily basis to improve your willpower.

Strategy 1: Get adequate sleep

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Research shows that sleep-deprived individuals are far more likely to give in to impulses. They also tend to focus less and are at a greater risk of making risky or questionable decisions. So, for your physical health as well as exercising of greater willpower, make sure you get the right amount of sleep.

Strategy 2: Practice meditation and slow breathing 

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Science reveals people who meditate on a regular basis have increased neural connections between regions of the brain important for staying focused. One important aspect of meditation is also conscious breathing. The way to do this is to slow down your breath with shorter inhales and longer exhales.

A typical cycle to have is four to six breaths per minute. Carrying forward this breathing practice in your day-to-day life will help you shift into a pause and plan mode. Thus, you will have greater self-control and better response in difficult situations.

Strategy 3: Reflect and forgive yourself

Studies show that being too harsh on ourselves doesn’t help much in the long term. It is better to reflect on our shortcomings, understand where exactly is the scope of improvement and keep a positive mindset while working on yourself. The more you believe you have control over your willpower, the better you will be able to exert it.

To conclude, improving willpower is all about finding the right strategies for yourself, being consistent with your good habits and sailing through tempting or boring situations with a positive mindset. We hope this article will help you move forward in the right direction. Do share your experiences with willpower in the comments below.

5 Traits of a Truly Intelligent Person

Most of us define intelligence as possession of a high IQ combined with high EQ. That’s a pretty simplistic definition of what it means to be intelligent and humans definitely have much more to them than these test scores.

Of course, had there been a single formula to become intelligent you would’ve definitely learned it in school by now. So what is it that makes up the geniuses of the world? Let’s have a look at some unconventional traits that can make someone truly intelligent.

1. Empathy

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Understanding what other people are going through and accordingly modifying the behaviour of oneself is a sign of intelligence. In fact, a lot of people are not able to do this and it is also a pretty difficult skill to develop deliberately. Those who have this skill will have better chances at success in real life as they will find it easier to gain the trust of people around them.

2. Attention to details

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Do you fret over tiny details or get anxious if something is not perfect? Don’t worry, paying attention to small details is definitely a sign of intelligence. It simply means you can identify the smallest areas of improvement, and this ability does require a certain amount of smartness.

3. Humility

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The attitude of being humble about one’s skills and knowledge is not so common. The Dunning-Kruger effect supports the observation that intelligent people are humbler about themselves and tend to doubt their abilities more than the less knowledgeable ones who tend to be overconfident about themselves.

This is primarily because you need to be smart enough to know what you don’t know. But why is humility so important? Well, for starters it will always allow for the scope for one to learn more. Prioritizing truth over ego will also earn you the respect of others in the future when problems get too complicated to be solved by one single person.

4. Metacognition

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People possessing this ability can simply think about their own thinking. So, the highly intelligent lot is basically aware of their own thought and learning process and can also critically analyse the same. Apart from focussing on what to learn they also plan, monitor and analyse how they learn. Having a metacognitive learning process also means you are not just learning for the present but also developing your learning ability for the future.

5. Curiosity

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The curious ones want to know more just for the sake of knowing. They don’t always learn based on what goal they will achieve. This thinking helps them learn and acquire abilities that other people might never pay attention to and nevertheless can contribute significantly in developing one as an individual.

With the ever-increasing competition out there, there is a lot of pressure on us to be better than others. Thus, we often feel pressured and try to imitate what we think makes other people successful. Rather than making someone else your idol, strive to be better each day in the pursuit of what you truly want to be.

This way you are not limiting yourself to what others could achieve. In life, no single skill set will help you achieve extraordinary success. Such successes are mostly a culmination of multiple skill sets one acquires over a long period of time.

We hope this article will help you take a step forward in that direction. Do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.