Once I have accepted that intelligence is both something I earn and something I already have, then I can shift the locus of control over my ability to learn. I can shift my perception from believing my ability to learn is mandated by my genetics or childhood, and acknowledge that learning — an ability — is influenced by the practice of learning itself.
Intelligence is the practice of three key abilities; to gather knowledge, validate knowledge, and apply knowledge.
What is change? Change is a quantification of difference in the measure of two observations. Simply put, it is something becoming or being made different. In the interest of changing my intelligence I must be able to enhance these three abilities. Yet, there are some limitations on my ability to do that.
The way my brain is formed as of this moment and even in general, is a structural limitation. My brain is constructed of a mass of interconnected cells called neurons. It is terribly complicated, but fortunately I don't need to be a neuroscientist to understand some basic principles and put them to work in my life. My general intelligence — that is; my memories, my abilities, and my thought patterns are diffusely encoded in the substructures of my brain. Because the structure of my brain plays such an important role in my level of intelligence, it is useful to learn of the mechanisms that influence brain structure and to what degree they can be controlled.
Neuroplasticity is the feature of the brain's structure that allows it to edit itself. Neurogenesis is the feature of the brain's structure that allows for the creation of new brain cells. The control I have over the structural limitations of my brain is made possible through these features of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. By learning to leverage these processes I can move the external locus of control from natural or externalized forces beyond my influence toward an internal locus of control over the structure of my brain.
My brain is isolated inside my body. The environment my brain is living in is a soup of nutrition. The environment around my person is providing all of the sensory inputs to my brain and is continuously affecting its structure. The control I have over the environment surrounding my brain is the control I have over changing its performance. I can create an environment free of nutritional, physical and emotional toxicity. Doing so affords indirect control over the processes of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. Adequate oxygen levels are vital to brain performance and a catalyst for neurogenesis. My thought patterns are influenced by my external environment through comfort and well-being. I can shift the locus of control and choose to positively influence my environment. Thereby, exerting a lasting influence on my thought patterns.
My brain is inundated with signals that it tries to make sense of. These signals rebroadcast through the structure of my brain. The signals are my experiences both conscious and subconscious. Certain experiences either enhance or degrade the quality of synaptic structure in my brain. Having cyclical experiences like regular sleeping, eating, and routines is healthy. Having cyclical experiences of environments that do not change is unhealthy. Experiencing new inputs that come from reading, playing games, problem solving and studying increases the synaptic structure in my brain which accelerates the process of neuroplasticity. An influx of new experiences is referred to as novelty. Novelty is involved in the processes of neurogenesis and stimulates neuroplasticity. I can choose to seek novelty for my sensory inputs and this exerts a lasting influence on my thought patterns. While I may not be able to directly control all of my experiences, I am in control of creating the opportunity for new and positive experiences. Again, shifting the locus of control to put the power to change my intelligence within reach.
It may have been my intuition that intelligence doesn't change. I might have thought it was something I was born with. It is what it is, and either I have it or I don't. Yet, intelligence can be improved through physical processes in my brain. My brain’s ability to change its own structure by forming new neural pathways or deleting unused ones occurs through the physical processes of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. I can gain ability, but just the same I can also lose ability.
I've heard the phrase: use it or lose it. My thought patterns can reinforce or undermine my abilities. I can create or enhance positive aspects of myself and I can delete or diminish negative aspects. My thought patterns play an important role in that process. The amount of control I have over thought patterns comes from faith and education; two seemingly opposite conduits of human experience. Both faith and education have their purpose and that is to entrench supposition. Faith is certain belief without empirical evidence, and education is largely instruction taken on faith. The scientific method however, being a method of inquiry, is a method of learning based on empirical evidence. Through an education, if I am only taught that the sun ninety-three million miles away, that is a supposition taken on faith. If I am made to memorize that, it is a supposition that becomes entrenched in the structure of my brain. If I am instead instructed on how to determine the distance of the sun and I repeat the experiment, I can supplant supposition. Only one of these methods can empower me to shift the locus of control and begin changing my intelligence with certainty. An uncertain belief that I am unable to change my intelligence will negatively affect my motivation to do so.
I have often read something and forgotten what the first half said by the time I finished the second half. Attention and memory play a fundamental role in intelligence. I store knowledge in memory. I store and access memory through attention. When I look into the process of enhancing my intelligence I find it composed of these three activities: gathering knowledge, validating knowledge, and applying knowledge. Each of these activities store or access knowledge in memory and neither of them are effective without focused attention. I have attempted to learn things in the past and can't retrieve the memory in the present. This means I haven't authentically learned it and I have wasted my time by not lending these memories an appropriate amount of attention. Having a healthy and robust memory is crucial to enhancing my intelligence. Exercising my memory is easy and enjoyable. In fact I am doing it now. Reading and writing are great activities to exercise the imagination and enhance memory and attention.
Belief that you can change your intelligence is not what motivates changing your intelligence. It is the desire to verify your beliefs regardless of their origin. It is the conviction of belief encoded in the structure of your brain that dissuades seeking. If you stop seeking you abandon the process of learning. Not knowing if you can achieve something is an internal locus of control emerging from the structure of your brain. Often it is the first step preceding the desire needed for the process of achievement.