We all like to think we are smart. We all admire, sometimes in awe, intelligence. But did you know that our understanding of the composition of intelligence is rapidly changing? Did you know that one research study showed that hand movement improved one’s ability to do complex math?

To become instantly smarter about any decision but particularly a clearly risky one you need to begin rethink what it means to be smart. Making a particularly good risk decision involves much much more than what you think of as thinking.

1. First, what is your physical state – energy, blood sugar, throbbing headache?

2. What is your internal state – mood, mood left over from yesterday and the ever present internal view of your yourself – your so-called “self-talk”?

3. And in general terms, what is the social expectation regarding your decision?

This last one is amazingly powerful – when you know it. Are you competing with someone? Is there an expectation of criticism -specific or general? What does “your group” think – or would they think if they knew? Is there some groupthink (different than the last sentence) at work?

Maybe this seems like a lot to think about when you would rather just “think” about the problem at hand. But see, here is the problem with that, it’s now clear that we really do think with our bodies. I can’t tell you the exact mechanism but nevertheless the jury is in and our bodies and their feelings matter more than anything else.

You might say, how can that be? I know a ton of smart people who are completely unaware of themselves. They don’t know the answer to any of the three questions above.

It’s a good question. The short answer is that their human-social-emotional context causes them to feel smart – but we only see the tip of the iceberg. We don’t see that feeling (well except when they get obnoxious) but it is there.

Regardless, anyone can make better use of these dimensions. You can create alpha, become better at predicting and essentially “instantly” become smarter.