A few simple changes to your daily routine can have immense benefits – including boosting your intelligence! Just like the muscles in your body, your brain requires exercise to become stronger and more effective. Adopting these ten habits can help foster creativity, reduce stress, improve critical thinking and unleash the full potential of your brain power.

1. Take in the world around you

Pay attention to your surroundings, and observe what’s going on in the background. When you focus, you’ll tap into your imagination and take note of things you may not have seen before, which allows for learning opportunities. Teaching moments can come from anyone at any time, so stay sharp and embrace the chance to remain present in the moment.

2. Solve some puzzles

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Test your brain, and solve challenging problems, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles, to work your mind. Puzzles or brain games help with logic and problem solving capabilities, which are immensely useful for everything from professional to personal situations.

3. Exercise those muscles

Who knew there are even more reasons to go to the gym? Physical exercise has many benefits, ranging from memory and productivity improvement, to enhanced concentration and even increased happiness. If that’s not enough motivation for you, try these tricks to get you excited for your next workout.

4. Meditate

Meditation isn’t just for the yoga-obsessed. Anyone can reap the benefits of this brain exercise that helps you connect to yourself, and figure out how your mind functions. Meditation trains the brain to focus on decluttering your thoughts and ridding yourself of distractions, which in turn boosts your intelligence. The peaceful habit also helps reduce anxiety and stress.

5. Read the news

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Catching up on current events doesn’t merely give you something to talk about with your friends and family. Reading the news increases cultural awareness and knowledge about the world around you. You’ll become exposed to a wide variety of opinions, and boost your critical thinking capabilities in the process.

6. Now, read some fiction

When you immerse yourself in another world, you automatically engage your imagination, which promotes empathy – a sign of emotional intelligence. You’ll begin to see situations from different perspectives, allowing you to relate to more people and their emotions, motives and thought processes.

7. Learn something new

Invest some time in a new hobby, or take an online course. You will be absorbing and processing new information on a regular basis, increasing your skill sets and working those brain muscles.

8. Now apply it

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What good is learning a new skill if you can’t apply it? Test your newly acquired knowledge, and see if the ideas stick. If you can explain what you’ve learned to a six year-old, you’ve truly mastered a new concept.

9. Ask questions

Question what is happening around you. Talk to your friends, peers, professors, colleagues, bosses and others. Pick their brain about something they are familiar with that interests you. Asking questions is often the best way to learn.

10. Write down your thoughts

Similar to meditation, logging your ideas helps you get to know yourself better and improve your self-awareness. By jotting stuff down, you’re practicing how to communicate clearly and effectively, which certainly raises your intelligence.

As we move toward a new year, resolve to adopt these simple habits, increasing the capacity of your mind to experience a more empowered, fulfilled life.

This article originally appeared on Goodnet.org and is republished here with permission.

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