Image of brain lifting weightsThe most important part of a smart life is being smart, which is one of those incredibly obvious things only intelligent people really get. Millions of people accept intelligence as some kind of luck of the draw, which only goes to show that intelligence doesn’t apply to them. Saying “they’re smart” almost excuses them from doing better, as if IQ was some random present awarded at birth. But the truly smart know that just as physical exercises improve your muscles, brain exercise can improve your mind.

Intelligence isn’t a case of remembering the capital of Itheria or knowing the maximum velocity of an unladen swallow. It’s the ability to do new things, which is also how you enjoy (and succeed in) life. Brain games force you to think in new ways and try new approaches. This doesn’t just kill time, these mind games force your neurons to work harder and make new patterns – new patterns which are forever added to the stockpile stored in your skull. Making you better at thinking and every future task, not just ones specifically to do with carrying a pig, wolf and cabbages across a river on a small boat.

So if you’re asking yourself, “how can I get smarter?”, read on. Your brain is built from the input you take, and you have two choices online: brain teasers and mind games to make you smarter, or reading about the Kardashians to do the opposite. We’ve gone for the former.

And we’ve found some places you can do it from the office, for free, right now. See, we’re smart already!

Archimedes’ Laboratory

With a name like that the site better be smart, so they’re lucky it is. They even use the apostrophe properly after an s, which makes them smarter than 90% of the people online. The Lab is a labor of love, run by two intelligent enthusiasts promoting puzzles, brain training, and even communications practice as educational resources. You’ll definitely get all three with their free monthly puzzles, ideal for printing out and sharing with the office. With over a hundred brain teasers in that category alone you’ll never need for something to think about – all the old puzzles come with complete solutions, while solving the recent could win you a prize!

Even better, they expand the mind with explanations of famous brain teasers. Showing true love of thought, they don’t just explain the solution, they expand upon it with alternate solutions that you might have never considered. Check out these out of the box solutions for the famous “Draw 4 straight lines through 9 dots” puzzle.

Archimedes Laboratory

Archimedes Laboratory

Note how they’ve exploited how the puzzle draws the dots as big circles, or doesn’t say it’s on a flat plane. Which might sound petty, but it’s exactly the sort of thinking which will help you expand your horizons – and succeed in business!

Neuro-nation

Neuro-nation is the antidote to Farmville. It’s a set of brain training exercises designed to fill up a few minutes every day and award you points for it, but it’s designed to build up your brain instead of switch it off. The Neuro-nation community understands what really motivates the modern mind: willpower and dedication are all very well, but thousands of people click on little sheep all morning because numbers tell you when you’re doing better.

Neuro-nation

Neuro-nation

Neuro-nation records your scores and progress, and it does it all for free so you’re not just smarter if you do it – you’re dumber if you don’t. A set of brain tests scores you in five areas of intelligence, helping you choose the brain exercises that will benefit you the most. Everything from brain teasers to memory tests stretches your mind in all directions, and just like stretching in the gym it’s not just for work — it’ll make you smarter outside the office too.

Luminosity

Luminosity is all about making you smarter, and they’ve used people smarter than you to do it. That’s not an insult – when you consult with neuroplasticity experts from Berkeley, Stanford, UCSF and more just to give people free brain training online, insulting them is the last thing on your mind. Luminosity helps you kick the brain into high gear and keep it there for longer each day.

Luminosity

Luminosity

Luminosity is designed to train brains for people who need to get things done. Instead of dividing IQ into verbal and logical, numbers and words, they use categories we all want to improve: Peak Performance, Attention, Memory and Creativity. A range of exercises mean you’re making the most of your head, with brain exercises designed to target your weak points. And unlike most things targeting your weak points, it’s doing that to help you.

Fitbrains

Fitbrains offers fast, fun and effective mind games. It’s designed to feel just like clicking on any other silly flash game site, except you’re tricking your brain into thinking instead of slashing fruit or committing porcine bird-murder.

Fitbrains games

Fitbrains games

The addiction sets in with personalized scores and achievements. A progress graph charting your score is a better motivation than electrodes implanted in your skull (and much more enjoyable!)

Any one of these sites will start you on the road to self-improvement. If you need even more brain training, we’ve got a list of 20 games sites to build your brain in the office.  All work and no play might make Jack a dull boy, but only because he didn’t think to do both at the same time!

Image credit: julien tromeur / Fotolia

###