How to Get Smarter and Be a More Informed Citizen

With each year, your habits, beliefs, hell, even your vocabulary can seem to grow stagnant. But with a little effort, you can keep your mind malleable, get smarter, and be a more informed citizen. Try these strategies and apps.

Expert Ways to Get Smarter and Be More Engaged Citizen

1. Break Out of Your Bubble

“We’ve become strangers to each other in sadly dangerous ways,” says learning and development consultant Paula Green. “Set aside time to talk to someone who voted differently or who lives a different lifestyle from you, and really listen. Ask them, ‘What’s important to you?’ Be curious, not cajoling. You might find that your needs are not that different from theirs.”

2. Volunteer

Lend your energy and expertise to those who need it, and you’ll pull back the curtain on a different slice of life—and feel valued for your efforts. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find a volunteer opportunity that suits your availability and expertise: Peruse sites like VolunteerMatch, Catchafire, and HandsOn Connect.

Illustration of a man reading on subway Illustration by Kagan McLeod

 

3. Keep Learning

Your dorm days might be in the rear view, but that doesn’t mean you need to rely on a stash of edibles for mind expansion. Thousands of college courses are available for free online—including over 500 from Ivy League schools like Harvard, Cornell, and Princeton. Whether you’re looking to learn coding, go deep on Bitcoin, or tackle Shakespeare again, you’ll likely find a lesson plan for you. Bonus: Most are self-guided and taught virtually. To narrow down the offerings, use Class Central.

4. SHARPEN YOUR SCREEN TIME

Stop the mindless scrolling and bolster your brain with this trio of apps: Climb makes it easy to expand your vocabulary via fun, personalized quizzes with clues that include animated GIFs. Lumosity trains your brain through memory, multitasking, and focus challenges, sharpening skills that have real-world applications. And Memrise is like TikTok for learning a second language. Instead of memorizing awkward, outdated textbook phrases, you learn common phrases and slang from native speakers in snack-size videos.



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