Last week, I explored my ideas about Mental Fitness and labeled it “Smart”. Today is part two of a 3-part series expanding on those ideas about Mental Fitness. Part 1 was about Mental Health. Part 2 is about Intelligence.
I like this simple definition of intelligence from Google. It makes clear the distinction between knowing stuff and being intelligent. Intelligence is about using what you know, and developing intellectual skills. Big-picture, these skills include things like critical thinking (the ability to objectively weigh a wide array of information before passing judgment on an issue). Smaller picture, we’re talking about skills such as adding and subtracting.
I’m not trying to pose as the expert on intelligence, and I’m not trying to write an exhaustive definition of it here. The psychologists, biologists, and educators have a lot more to say on the topic than I do. However, I have spent a life acquiring and applying knowledge and skills, so I think I’m qualified to speak on the topic at least a little bit. It’s not the point of these articles to get way down into the details on any particular topic, but rather just to give an overview of my definitions of fitness and lay some challenges before you.
I understand intelligence as being composed of the elements of thinking, learning, problem solving, and comprehension.
- Thinking is the skill of considering or reasoning about something.
- Learning is the skill of acquiring knowledge and skills through experience, study, or instruction.
- Problem solving is the skill of finding solutions to complex challenges.
- Comprehension is the skill of understanding the information you interact with.
I’m sure there are better explanations of intelligence out there, but this is what I’m working from. One aspect of improving your mental fitness is working on these 4 elements. As you do so, it can also be helpful to think about the different types of intelligence. An understanding of these concepts may influence the way you think, learn, problem-solve, and comprehend.
One model sets forth 3 types of intelligence:
- Analytic. This is the type of intelligence that performs computations and solves the kind of problems that conform to well-defined rules and parameters.
- Creative. This is all about imagining, inventing, and innovating, the abilities to think about things in a new way and bring new things into being.
- Practical. This is the kind of intelligence that someone who’s never read a book can possess, the kind that’s based on experience.
Then there are the theories of “multiple intelligences” that break away from thinking about intelligence as a single, general ability, and propose that there are different styles of intelligence for different contexts–and that different people will possess differing degrees of each. Thinking about these multiple intelligences might help you discover better ways for yourself learn. Here are 7 of the multiple intelligences that are commonly discussed:
- Linguistic = writing, reading, telling stories, anything with words.
- Logical = patterns, categories, relationships, math, and strategy.
- Kinesthetic = bodily senses, athleticism, movement, coordination of the body.
- Spatial = images, pictures, shapes, drawing, and designing.
- Musical = making sound, listening, singing, rhythms.
- Interpersonal = leadership, communication, understanding other people.
- Intrapersonal = awareness of self, feelings, motivations.
There is a lot of debate and controversy over the validity of all these models of intelligence, but this is not an academic paper or an argument for or against any model. I’m just trying to give you useful tools to help explore and develop this aspect of your mental fitness. The challenge: work on these skills every day in some way and practice being the most intelligent you can be, and more intelligent every day.
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