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What is the secret to mental growth, intellectual development?

There are great differences between people in regard to how their minds work, their mental abilities and mental tendencies, general knowledge, etc. What causes these differences?

What is the secret to mental growth, intellectual development? What gives mental maturity? Answer: Thinking, reflective thought, observation, questioning, examination, inquisitiveness, curiosity, reading, facing problems and solving them, action, doing things. Conscious attempt to understand this and understand that as we move through life. Mental growth and maturity comes in the form of increased understanding and knowledge as we progress through life. Increased understanding and knowledge comes from habits of inquisitiveness, observation, questioning, reflective thought, reading, asking questions of others, etc.

Knowledge / Ignorance. A person can be very knowledgeable about some things and amazingly ignorant about other things. For example, a person might be very knowledgeable about, say, art and music. He might know all about the lives and works of all kinds of singers, musicians and artists. He might be interested in celebrities and know all about the lives of all kinds of celebrities. Yet he is a totally impractical person, lacking grossly in knowledge and good sense on practical things. He might not even know how to write a check or balance a checkbook. A man might know a lot about some specialized area of expertise but be totally inept with respect to fixing a malfunctioning toilet, changing a tire, or doing anything practical.

Rationality / Irrationality. Some people (a few) are very conscientious, careful, objective, fair-minded, analytical, meticulous, exact in their thinking processes. It is important to them to be right and they are careful in their thoughts and speech. Most people, however, are very careless, sloppy, and negligent in their thinking and speech. Also, without realizing it they make all kinds of assumptions of questionable validity (perhaps assumptions that most other people also make but, nonetheless, not valid). Some people are very logical, cool and rational but the thinking of most people is strongly influenced by emotional temperament, feelings, biases, etc. Indeed, some people can be highly illogical in their thinking. Carefulness in thought and speech comes from mental maturity. Sloppiness comes from mental immaturity, childishness.

The mind develops with respect to knowledge and understanding through use. What kinds of things cause a person to use his mind? Curiosity. Inquisitiveness. A habit of philosophical thought. Challenges. Problems. Being forced to think and use your mind. Dealing with the problems of life as they present themselves. From each problem we may learn a little and with time we learn a lot. I personally have a poor memory and so I have the long-standing habit of making notes on things I do so the next time I encounter the problem I can just refer to my notes. This habit has been invaluable for me. I have notes on everything. Without them I would be lost. Meeting new problems and dealing with them expands your mind.

People acquire knowledge in areas they are interested in. Some people may be interested in totally impractical subjects like art or music. Others are interested in practical things like cooking, sewing, auto repair, money management and investment, etc.

People have different mental bents and a particular bent acting over a period of years has an accumulative effect.

Personality traits associated with good mental development (traits that stimulate and aid mental development): inquisitiveness, curiosity, diligence, industriousness, persistence, determination, conscientiousness, self-reliance, independence, frugality (causing us to do jobs ourself instead of hiring them done), seriousness, sense of responsibility, activeness, being energetic, methodicalness, reflectiveness, thoughtfulness, self-discipline, high personal standards.

Personality traits associated with poor mental development: laziness, carelessness, dependence (lack of self-reliance); easygoing ways. Laziness is aversion to exertion. Thinking, analyzing, figuring things out is exertion. Lazy people have an aversion for all exertion, physical or mental. If you don’t exercise your brain it becomes weak and stagnant. Dependent people are always turning to others for help. You learn and improve your mind and understanding by doing things yourself. There are no mental gains if you let others do everything for you.

Some people are very practical minded. Others are very impractical and visionary. Why? Practical mindedness vs. impractical mindedness; two feet squarely on the ground v.s. visionary thinking. See Two kinds of mind

Some people develop very fact-oriented minds. Their minds habitually, consistently work in a very logical, rational way. They are very sensible, rational people. Other people are highly impulsive, impetuous, undisciplined and their thinking can be quite illogical, irrational. They are not conscientious and careful in their thinking. Many people are very careless, dishonest thinkers. Instead of being impartial, fair, objective, detached in their thinking they are opinionated and try to support their ideas by dishonest argument.

See Intellectual disparities among people and the power in good habits


July 2017

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