We are able to read this because of quantum and thermodynamic principles that via an inorganic proton gradient, possibly generated 4.2 billion years ago, gave rise to a system that has an awareness of time and space by using energy to integrate information. Life can be described as a dissipative system driven by an energy gradient that uses information to positively reinforce its self-sustaining structure, which in turn increases its non-linear decisional capacity. Key in the evolution of life has been stress coupled to natural selection, which usually meant an increased demand for energy. As hormesis describes the adaptive response to stress, we propose that hormesis embraces not only the evolution of life, but that of intelligence itself, as natural selection would favour systems that enhances its efficiency. A component of the hormetic response in eukaryotes is the mitochondrion, which itself relies on quantum effects such as tunnelling. This suggests that quantum effects control the stability of individual cells as well as long-lived cellular networks. Hormesis, which can be anti-inflammatory, is therefore key in maintaining the functional stability of complex systems, including the brain. In contrast, a lack of classical hormetic factors, such as physical activity, plant polyphenols, or calorie restriction, will lead to accelerated cognitive decline, which is associated with increased inflammation. However, there may be another previously unidentified factor that could also be considered hormetic, and that is thinking itself. Here we propose that the process of “thinking”, and managing complex movement, induces “stress” in the neuronal system and is therefore in itself part of maintaining cognitive health and reserve throughout life. In effect, the right amount of thinking and information processing can beneficially induce adaptation, and this itself could be explainable by quantum thermodynamics.