Intellectual stimulation takes many forms and is different for each person.  I use to think having a good intellect meant doing things like learning to play chess, reading novels, being a history buff, attending the opera, or studying literature.  It can involve those things, however it is not limited to those types of things. Having a good intellect is reflected in the makeup of our personalities, and is reflected in the things we naturally gravitate towards and how we behave.  Our intellect is often called upon to help us step out of our comfort zones and forge new paths at unexpected moments.  The stronger our intellect, the better equipped we are at accomplishing things in many areas of our lives. We can do this because we have a broader understanding and awareness of situations and people. As with the other five categories in life, we don’t grow our intellect without focused effort and action, even in difficult times.

“Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds.  The purest of ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.” – Charles C. Colton

Why is intellectual stimulation important?  Why is it included as one of life’s six categories ion your Vision Plan?  Have you ever heard couples say things like, “He doesn’t like going to the opera with me!”, or “She doesn’t get why I like rebuilding classic cars!”.  She is fed intellectually because she loves experiencing the feeling she gets from watching and listing to wonderfully talented people sing and perform opera.  He is intellectually fed by the process of researching classic cars, the mechanical intricacies and styles, and the social aspect it provides by talking to other car enthusiasts.

Here’s a nugget: Don’t expect one person to fulfill all of your intellectual and emotional needs. If you do, you will be disappointed and you are setting up the other person to fail.

We all need to take responsibility for our own intellectual and emotional health.  You can do this by surrounding yourself with people who share your interests and encourage you to stretch your mind. Don’t shy away from people who challenge your perspectives. Some of the most fascinating conversations you can have will be with intelligent people who hold opposing views and opinions.

It is difficult to clearly articulate what intellectual stimulation is completely because it is so broad. However, below I’ve grouped into two categories, an abbreviated list of major aspects. A complete list of aspects can be found in my book YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE VISION, a Handbook for Life.

Inward Looking – Personal development through self-examination

  • Strengthen your character
  • Figure out your personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Widen your window on the world
  • Get out of your comfort zone

Outward Looking – Personal development through relationships and serving others

  • Show empathy and compassion
  • Engage others
  • Check your attitude
  • Bring it!

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”  – Nelson Mandela

When you decide to take action to get yourself to a better place whatever the goal: career, financial, relational, spiritual, or physical, there will be people close to you who will try to discourage you and tell you you’re crazy. Don’t listen to them. I’m not talking about people who aren’t willing to jump on your crazy bus to self-destruction, but those who are not supportive of your healthy choices which will move you forward.

You can read more in my book, YOUR ULTIMATE LIFE VISION, a Handbook for Life, available on