What is intellectual well-being? Increase it for a happier life

TYou may have heard of mindfulness and its importance to mental health. But have you ever thought about intellectual well-being? It is well known that food and exercise are essential for physical health. Just as important, however, is exercising the brain, as well as developing and nurturing the mind.

According to the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion at Harvard University, Benefits of intellectual well-being include:

  • Better cognition.
  • Better concentration and memory.
  • clearer reasoning.
  • Experience a more stimulating life.
  • Develop personal values ​​and opinions.
  • Broader mindset.


In short, intellectual well-being is “the well-being of the mind,” responds Michael Ebinger, director of the University Center for Innovation, at Washington State University in Spokane (WSU), who spoke about well-being intellectual during a presentation TEDx Talks.

Randy McCoy, executive for product leadership at The Little Gym, Arizona’s center for physical development and child enrichment, tells Newsweek: “Intellectual well-being has to do with the desire and ability to expand our knowledge and skills through continuous learning, productive curiosity, creative reasoning and exploration.”

Ebinger divides intellectual well-being into his Essential elements. Namely:

  • Active learning throughout life (also called lifelong learning or continuous learning).
  • Openness to new ideas.
  • Participation in creative activities (such as writing, photography, community assistance).
  • Read “everything”, from the classics to works by contemporary authors.
  • Stay up to date on current affairs.
  • Practice hobbies.
  • Connect with the arts.
An essential element of intellectual well-being is participating in creative activities, such as photography. (Photo: Istock/Getty Images Plus)


Improving intellectual well-being is “practicing or immersing ourselves” in the aforementioned elements, exposes Ebinger.

For example, “I usually listen to classical music and, in addition, I study the violin. However, we have orafter options such as painting, writing poetry, learning new skills and reading different news sources to be well informed on current affairs”, he adds.

For his part, McCoy highlights the importance of understanding the interconnection of intellectual well-being with exercise and physical activity.

“The brain regions responsible for cognition are also activated and developed during exercise and physical activity. This means that “when the body is in motion, the brain comes alive,” she says.

During the physical activity, the brain “picks up its pace” and prepares to “go into action”. This state persists long after stopping the activity.

intellectual well-being
Reading is one of the simplest activities to improve intellectual well-being. (Photo: Istock/Getty Images Plus)

McCoy insists that this is not a temporary effect, since “it has a positive and lasting impact on brain function and neuroplasticidad. In other words, in the brain’s ability to change and adapt to experiences”, explains McCoy.

Various studies show that the physical activity regular and daily – especially in children and adolescents – improves the development of brain regions responsible for “executive function,” he continues.

Executive function is important for a set of cognitive skills essentials that allow “mental multitasking”. In other words: work and mentally remember several things at once, without losing focus, eliminating distractions and even making creative corrections “on the fly”.

If we take into account all of the above, it turns out that physical activity is the best way to optimize intellectual well-being, since it “keeps the brain busy and happy,” says McCoy.


Activities for intellectual well-being? Ebinger claims that the reading It is one of the simplest activities. It doesn’t matter if it’s classic, contemporary or current events. “Continuous learning always occurs in those who work to improve their intellectual well-being,” he says.

His recommendation, combine different elements of intellectual well-being. For example, “I can practice learning continuous while reading works by Goethe [poeta Johann Wolfgang von Goethe] and I imagine those words as part of a classical music composition.”

Ebinger adds: “On the other hand, I can exercise my creativity performing a piece of music based on Goethe’s poems or prose, or even on a composition by [Johannes] Brahms”.

It also uses the imagination. Ebinger explains: “The imagination it is a good way to create connections and increase the fluidity of intellectual well-being.”

Brain regions responsible for cognition are also activated and developed during exercise and physical activity. (Photo: Istock/Getty Images Plus)


McCoy reminds us that the physical activity keeps the brain in shape, as it activates brain neurotransmitters to “create and activate connections”.

Likewise, he assures that it is enough to go out to walk with our children to produce a “dramatic effect” on their intellectual well-being. In fact, it suggests that these walks become part of the family routine.

“I walk in nature almost every day. I find that my mind it relaxes when the body is in motion. With this practice my mind becomes more creative and some of my best ideas come out”, confesses McCoy.

Spending just five minutes sitting or lying down—for example, a short nap—will do wonders for your body and brain. (Photo: Istock/Getty Images Plus)


Resting your mind and body can increase your brain power. If you spend five minutes a day sitting or lying down, and practice some form of meditation“will do wonders” for your body and your brain, he says.

Those who do not even have five minutes free, or consider that this time is excessive (common perception of children and adolescents), can obtain the same Benefits reserving a scant 30 seconds to “sit down, relax and take a deep breath.”

only five breaths they give the brain and body a good nap. “Breathe in positivity and happiness, and breathe out ‘undone,’” McCoy instructs.

Numerous studies confirm that living with friends and loved ones not only increases the level of happiness, but also prolongs life. (Photo: Istock/Getty Images Plus)


According to McCoy, numerous studies confirm that living with friends and loved ones not only increases the level of happiness, but also prolongs life. “Socialize, chat, exchange ideas. All of that is brain food,” she concludes. N

(Published in cooperation with Newsweek / Published in cooperation with Newsweek)

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