Children often have great enthusiasm and excitement for the world, a trait that many adults look at with nostalgia and even envy. But excitement does not have to end with childhood. By continuing intellectual development through our adult years, it’s possible to find fulfillment and lasting happiness. In order to promote this kind of development, there are specific steps every person can take, ranging from the physical and mundane to the cerebral and life-altering.

Sleep

While scientists still aren't exactly sure how our bodies utilize sleep, it does seem clear that getting an adequate amount of shut-eye is critical to intellectual development and, specifically, memory retention.The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults get at least seven to nine hours each night.

Diet

Food provides the energy we need to think and develop intellectually. But what you eat can impact your mind's capacity to grow. For optimum brain functioning and development, you should eat foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Healthy fats are also imperative to brain growth, particularly fatty acids such as omega-3 and Linoleic.

Exercise

Recent research also suggests that even something like regular physical activity can keep your brain developing in a healthy way. Exercise can even help reduce the risk of certain mental illnesses and dementia, which often put a stop to intellectual development.

Puzzles and Training

Those looking to exercise the mind instead of the body can also try training puzzles designed specifically to hone the mind's skills. These may include crosswords, number games such as Sudoku, or even structured brain training programs offered by certain video games. All of these activities help sharpen the mind and keep your growth active.

Learning

Continuing to learn well after you've left the grade school or college is also essential to promoting continuous intellectual development. This can be anything from signing up for classes at a local college, watching instructional videos online, or even simply reading about a subject and teaching yourself. With the advent of the digital age, learning has become easier than it's ever been.

Experiencing Art

Similar to learning, experiencing and paying attention to other people's artworks is one of the most effective ways to evolve your intellect. Art often works to challenge assumptions or to show us something new, and it is this very process that stretches and surprises the mind, encouraging new development and thought. Paintings, literature, music, film and even certain television shows can fall under this category, and more challenging art pieces often offer the greatest intellectual rewards.

Interaction

Connecting and talking with other people can also spur brain growth. However, this doesn't mean small talk, or falling into patterns with those you are familiar with; rather, talking about something important, philosophical or at least different from your normal conversation is the key to making interaction intellectually valuable. Even just getting out of your comfort zone and speaking up when you'd usually keep silent can give your mind a boost in the right direction.

Creation and Play

An active and growing mind often seeks to create something new, whether it be artwork, an invention or a new thought. Even if creation is difficult for you, forcing new thoughts can activate intellectual growth, and it may also make subsequent creation a little easier. On the other hand, making time for active play, in which you create and imagine without the strict constraints of other kinds of creation, is also critical to rekindling excitement.

Experiences

New experiences are also very good for intellectual growth. Taking up a new hobby, learning a different language or even trying a new kind of cuisine can get your mental juices flowing.

Change

Fundamentally, this is perhaps the most important thing for intellectual development. Once our mind becomes used to certain conditions, it often stops growing. If all else fails, consider a big change, like a new career choice or the move to a new city. This will help to combat staleness, get you excited again and jump-start your intellectual growth.