Whether or not you have ever heard of the term “intellectual wellness,” it is not a new concept. The word “intellectual” makes it sound like intellectual wellness is focused on things someone learns in school or that it has something to do with a person’s IQ, but it is actually much more than academics. It has to do with all of the knowledge a person has, both academic and beyond. It is something most people cultivate their entire lives without even realizing it. So what exactly is intellectual wellness all about and why is it so important?
What is Intellectual Wellness?
Intellectual wellness is a person’s ability to engage in mentally-stimulating activities in order to expand their knowledge. It is not just about what someone learns in school and it has nothing to do with a person’s IQ score. It includes all of a person’s knowledge – think book smarts, street smarts, social skills, personal interests and hobbies, community involvement, and cultural knowledge. All of that contributes to a person’s intellectual wellness.
Exposing yourself to new experiences like theater performances, art shows, book readings, or cultural festivals and learning through a variety of ways like reading, writing, observing what is around you contribute to a person’s intellectual wellness. Most importantly, intellectual wellness is about learning things for the sake of learning. When you listen and ask questions about a subject, you are actively expanding your intellectual wellness. The same is true when you read or watch the news to stay up-to-date on current events.
Gaining knowledge is not the only part of intellectual wellness. Sharing your experiences and knowledge is just as much as part of intellectual wellness as is seeking out a variety of experiences. First, you gain this well-rounded knowledge and then you use it to expand the knowledge of others. When you can do that, you are living a successful, knowledgeable life.
Why Is It Important?
Intellectual wellness is important because it helps people achieve a more balanced life. Exploring new ideas and understanding a variety of subjects makes you more mindful and a more well-rounded person.
Curiosity and exploration are sparked by intellectual wellness – it is this amazing circular pathway. The more knowledge someone has, the more likely they are to be interested in learning more and in learning about new things. So when you seek out new experiences and gain new knowledge, you are expanding your intellectual wellness. Then, you become even more likely to want to seek further knowledge and experiences. This curiosity is important because it motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of the relationship between yourself, other people, and the world around you.
Having intellectual wellness arguably makes someone a better member of society. That is because when you are interested in learning new things and having new experiences, you become aware of the world around you. When someone is aware of other cultures, people, and situations, they are more sympathetic to other people’s experiences. It makes people more empathetic of others, which, in turn, makes them more likely to be concerned about how their actions (or inactions) affect the world, making them a better global citizen.
How Can You Expand Your Intellectual Wellness?
It is actually pretty easy to expand your intellectual wellness. As long as you are interested in learning, having new experiences, and sharing your knowledge with others, there are some simple ways to increase your intellectual wellness.
Pick up a book.
Read for the sake of reading. It does not matter what kinds of books you choose – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a graphic novel, classic literature – as long as they interest you. Reading for fun is a great way to increase your intellectual wellness because it is different than reading for a class or for work because reading for fun calms your mind and makes you happy. It increases your intellectual wellness because the more you read, the more your vocabulary and communication skills improve. Your knowledge also increases because you learn new things as you read. Plus, it expands your creativity, which is also a part of your overall intellectual wellness.
Play a musical instrument.
Playing a musical instrument can increase your intellectual wellness because playing music taps into different parts of our brain than other things. If you already know how to play a musical instrument, play it! Learn new songs or play songs you already know. If you have never played an instrument, there is no time like the present to learn how. Most instructors who will teach music lessons to both adults and children, so there is no shame in taking up the guitar, piano, or whatever instrument strikes your fancy at any age. The type of musical instrument does not make a difference. Any instrument will give your brain a boost.
Write in a journal.
Like reading, writing for leisure is good for your brain. It helps you relax. It lets you practice sentence construction. It also allows you to think through your thoughts and take a moment to tap into how you feel. When you become more in tune with your own feelings, it is easier to understand how others are feeling, which makes you a more empathetic person. That is never a bad thing.
Play a game or do a puzzle.
Playing a board game, a game of cards, or completing a puzzle, crossword, or word search can also help increase your intellectual wellness. Whether you are playing something alone or with others, as long as your mind is thinking your mind is benefiting from it. Games and puzzles are good activities because they increase your cognitive ability, help with critical thinking, increase your ability to find patterns, and when you are playing with other people you are also increasing your social awareness.
Visit a local museum.
Find a science, art, or history museum nearby and spend the day exploring the exhibits. Whether it is a museum you have visited before or somewhere new, you will likely see and learn about things you did not know about before. Even better, visit with someone else and talk about what you see, what you liked, and what you did not. Remember, part of intellectual wellness is sharing your knowledge with other people.
Attend a performance.
Attend a music or dance performance, a poetry reading, or a cultural performance or festival. Any type of performative experience expands your intellectual wellness by exposing you to something new. Even attending a concert, which most people might not think of as something intellectual, is good for your mind.
The exciting part of intellectual wellness is that you are never too young (or too old) to expand it. Teach your children to love learning at a young age. Read to them every day and show them that you like to read for fun. Play games together. Go to museums to see art, history, and science. Visit the zoo and learn about animals from around the world. Go to a festival that is from a culture other than your own. Talk about all of these experiences together. Model a love of learning and of sharing knowledge.
If as an adult you feel like you have been neglecting your own intellectual wellness, it is never too late to start. Pick up reading again even if you can not remember the last time you read a book for fun. Dig out that guitar you played in college or the flute you played in high school and start playing again. Visit more museum. Go to a concert, a play, a ballet performance, or check out the symphony. There is always time to learn how to be a lifelong learner.
When you get down to it, intellectual wellness is about being curious about the world and expanding your horizons. The more you learn, and the more you share your knowledge with others, the more good you do for yourself and the world. It allows you to become a more well-rounded person with knowledge about all kinds of things. It keeps you curious and interested in things you do not know and in the people and places around you. Really, expanding your intellectual wellness makes you a better version of yourself.
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Sources: Intellectual Wellness, Elements of Wellness, Eight Simple Steps to Increase Your Intellectual Wellness
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