Hope as Our Problem Solving Tool

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Our brain operates hope as its power tool to rebuild after trouble (such as Coronavirus pandemic) strikes. Unfortunately however, our brain also slides into despair, a pre-condition that prevents us from accessing hope’s best benefits at times. Did you know for instance, that laughter sets the brain’s stage for hope that heals us from hardships?

Luckily, we can change approach, whenever past problems or pre-conditions leave us feeling hopeless, or ready to blame others for stressors that strike. In fact, our IQ or capacity to construct hopeful solutions is less fixed than once believed. Furthermore, intelligence is more fluid, and hopeful solutions more mentally available in trauma situations, than once realized.

Not surprisingly the creator of our first intelligence test taught that intelligence can be increased. We assumed our IQ score answered the question, “How hopeful are you?”

So why do so many of us tend to feel inadequate when faced with coronavirus challenges? Why do we fear that intelligence we are born with appears to limit our hope-filled capabilities now that we face so much loss?

When we understand the elastic fluidity of our intelligence we answer to a very different question, How are we hopeful? In similar ways we engage the question, How are we smart? rather than, How smart are we? Simply stated, tangible ways exist to be more hopeful and smarter. Luckily, our brains come equipped to open mental access into hope’s problem solving skills that will improve our situation.

For those of us who enjoy the fluidity of intelligence, we reboot constantly to show evidence of hope’s growth and change across multiple mental domains. How so?

Henry Ford summed up the brain’s hope tools when he said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing, or fear you cannot, either way you are correct. Believe IQ is fixed, and we fix past mental outcomes of despair when storms strike, as well as limit our performance to one familiar watermark. Believe IQ is fluid, however, and our brains are more apt to run with hopeful possibilities in ways that help us to perform at mastery levels. We now know that our collective IQ increases about 3 points every decade. But what would it take to increase hope in a pandemic?

If our daily life shows evidence for a fixed IQ that limits our growth as a hopeful problem solver, it’s time for another look at hope as the brain’s best tool to rebuild when trauma takes us on. Focus on hope and we set the stage to engage a fluid IQ, that opens new skills and enables ever growing capabilities. Did you know the brain is incapable of focusing on misery or despair and hope or possibilities at the same time? Opposites bottleneck the brain’s ability to take the next vital step toward hopeful solutions. Furthermore stress defaults our brains back to past problems with depression and so it’s no wonder we give up.

Skeptics may still argue we are conditioned for limited or fixed IQ scores because of past intelligence tests that perhaps ranked lowered than Mensa standards. Yet brain gurus see a new understanding of our brain’s plasticity (or its ability to change itself), for hopeful actions that rev up buoyant solutions for a finer future.

It’s true that past IQ scores measure intelligence we need to succeed in paper-pencil tests of academia.  New neural discoveries go beyond IQ scores however, in ways that help us access mental capabilities such as hopeful actions in a broader sense. To act with hope at the helm is to call into action the validity of mental acumen required to problem-solve in every aspect of our lives.

It’s not about graduating with higher level degrees. Hope as a mental power tool gets boosted more by hopeful actions we do, rather than how well we recite facts about either delight or despair.

In past we defined IQ as the ability to achieve and apply knowledge and skills. More recently however, the neural and cognitive sciences have redefined a highly intelligent person as a problem solver who can create solutions to real-life problems across multiple intelligences. Sound like people who run with hope to you?

Good news. We all come equipped with multiple literacies that help to keep us rolling along hopeful paths toward solutions that improve our lives.

Our multiple intelligences increase motivation and achievement for honing hopeful skill-building related to any problem presented. Let’s say we wish to improve our economic shortfalls, or prevent any sudden spiral downward during the present pandemic.

First, to see IQ as fluid and able to wield hope, is to discover 100 reasons to run hard from merely listening passively to lectures!

Check out the FREE Intelligence Survey Here  to see which are your stronger and go-to intelligences to reboot your hope as a problem solving tool. Let’s also teach our teens and young adults to use their wider range of capabilities for engaging hopeful solutions!

What if we targeted multiple intelligences to develop higher IQ for hopeful economic problem-solving in a pandemic season?

1. Mathematical or logical intelligence enables us to trace and engage new logical chains of reasoning to discern where solvable problems are rooted.

2. Verbal linguistic intelligence enables us to read, research and discuss accurate economic trends, as well as writing a plan for economic growth, and perhaps even proposing a possible new approach to our bank manager. If he or she hears and acts on our good ideas, we can be assured we are growing hope in this mental domain.

3. Musical or rhythmic intelligence enables us to compose musical solutions or emulate those who have expanded our world through musical interjections. Listen to words in the song, Lean on Me, and we begin to pull people together to find collective solutions, rather than divide or insist on getting our own way when trouble strikes.

4. Visual spatial intelligence enables us to create or use images, graphs, or visual portrayals to understand and explain economic problems and possibilities. We grow this domain of our intelligence when we use visuals to see and act on hopeful pathways forward for ourselves and others.

5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence enables us to engage in movement, building and handling materials in ways that deepen understanding about past economic challenges. This unique capability enables us to rebuild our surrounding to accommodate more hopeful opportunities.

6. Interpersonal or social intelligence enables us to discern and respond well to moods, temperaments, motivation, and desires of different people as they relate to economic bust and boom. Are we surrounding ourselves with people who rebuild for hopeful solutions, and avoiding those who seem to delight in doom?

7. Intrapersonal or introspective intelligence enables us to show self-knowledge, act with integrity and discriminate between good or bad personal choices for our benefit and the benefit of others around us.

8. Naturalistic intelligence enables us to use mental tools that draw on patterns and designs in nature as a way to see real world problems and propose nature-related solutions for growth.

A new look at the brainpower within multiple intelligences is helping us to improve problem-solving – by targeting more brainpower than can be found in lectures or speeches which leave us with more brain cramps than usable facts. I applied intelligences to building hopeful possibilities in money matters here, but we can build hope into any areas of our day, for better results going forward.

Above are a few hopeful tasks that engage each of our multiple intelligences in ways that grow IQ in each area of our awesome brains. Use the examples here to act with hope to resolve your own problem and your brain will do the rest.

How we think about intelligence and its ability to engage hope as a mental tool, has a lot to do with how we take advantage of our abilities to expand our lives. What if we are asking the wrong question, though, if we hope to discover a wider range of capabilities or intelligences?

Do you know the original purpose of IQ tests? Alfred Binet was a French psychologist who developed the first IQ test as a tool to identify learners who failed to find support in public schools. The French government in the late 1800s commissioned Binet to help them identify learners who needed more support to learn well. With collaborator Theodore Simon, Binet used what we knew of brains in to develop the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. He did not believe IQ was fixed and did adhere to the notion that IQ scores tend to improve with motivation, for instance.


With an advent of multiple intelligences, new neural discoveries, and Mita brain based tools for growth,  imagine the question shifting from asking, How smart are you? to inquire instead, How are you smart? 

Our new question changes the way we lead and learn successfully!

We now know that intelligence is fluid, not fixed and that we can use and grow all eight distinctive intelligences. We all come with a unique mix and this survey simply helps us to discover our awesome strengths and grow areas such as hope that could be boosted as our finest mental tool for building solutions we crave.

! MI Survey

Discover all the intelligences and then track your own smarts using the graphs in this free resource. What area of your day could use a more hopeful outlook and rebuild? Wherever we stand at the moment is our best starting point! If we operate high levels of hope, we can take a new risk to build a far-reaching new pathway forward on that strength. If we abandoned hope or fell into the many traps discouragement present, we can inch forward with one small action from any one of the intelligences illustrated here. In both cases let’s strengthen and move toward hope as a tool to rebuild something far better than fear or hopelessness tried to remove. Worth a try?

Check out this resource guide to discover posters that engage hope within each of our 8 intelligences.

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset