What are the top hobbies that make you smarter? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by D.J. Hoskins, author and solver of puzzles, on Quora:

  1. Cubing (solving Rubik's Cubes). Solving a Rubik's cube is often thought to be one of the hardest challenges to overcome in life. Once mastered, though, you won't just receive a boost of self-confidence, but if you continue toward the more difficult and challenging puzzles, you'll start to notice your cognitive abilities increase. First you'll first start to notice things that could be improved at your job as well as forming viable solutions to problems you would have otherwise ignored and/or avoided. Here's a puzzle I'm currently solving, called the V-Udoku:I
  2. Writing books. The ability to write well will definitely take you places. Currently, I enjoy writing fiction, short stories, as well as posts on Quora. When it comes to writing a term paper, it often feels like a joke when the professor says he wants ten pages. The more you practice a skill, the better you'll get. If you ever decide to write your own novel, you'll definitely be rewarded for it in terms of self-confidence and so much more. As a bonus, when you end up reading other authors' works, you'll begin to notice grammatical errors as well as differentiating good writing from bad. Trust me, there's plenty of bad writers with published books.
  3. Studying philosophy. Have you read The Republic by Plato? What about Introduction to the Philosophy of History by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel? Or how about The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy? If not, you're definitely missing out on a golden opportunity to expand your mind. The definition of philosophy is "the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline." Before I picked up and read several books on philosophy, I thought philosophers were just a bunch of nut jobs sitting around in a room sharing cult-like ideas. I thought it was just another side of some weird religion, until I decided to delve into it for myself.
  4. Mental Math?. Believe it or not, mental math can be learned. I remember the day when I went to a bookstore and picked up this book by a renowned mathematician, or as he calls himself, a "Mathmagician." Mental math is truly an art, and the more you practice the more patterns you notice with numbers. It's like installing a turbocharger in your skull. It also comes in handy when your teacher or your friend asks those offhanded math questions. I tend to use mental math when I'm stuck somewhere, bored with nothing to do, and I happened to forget my Rubik's cube at home.

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