Do you ever wonder what heights you could rise to in your personal and professional life if you put all of your thinking into focus? So much of our brain capacity is unused and lying dormant. What if you knew how to think critically so that your life would improve tenfold and help you achieve all the goals you have in life?
How to think critically is developed over time and is like learning any sport or art. You can’t just get up one morning and say, “I think I’ll become a critical thinker today.” No one can simply will it into happening. It takes years to develop a critical thinking knack, and some older people call this “wisdom.”
“You have a brain and mind of your own. Use it, and reach your own decisions.”—Napoleon Hill”
One of the most significant hallmarks of critical thinking is the capacity for independent thought. It’s easy to believe or agree without consideration. Nevertheless, when you choose to think independently, you exercise a right you have as humans and a responsibility you have as global citizens.
Independent thought requires effort and work, but the payoff is priceless. For one thing, it introduces different perspectives and viewpoints. Another aspect of independent thought is that it leads you to carry out your convictions with courage and have faith in your ability to decide what is best for you.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle
Cognition experts claim the human mind experiences between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day or a few thousand every hours. Thus, the act of critical thinking includes considering those thoughts that carry importance and discarding or ignoring those that do not.
The only paths through which a person can develop insightful thinking are knowing and accepting that there are flaws in your thinking. You must also constantly practice thinking critically and become a thinker who can effectively solve problems through logical thinking rather than emotions.
Become A Critical Thinker
Becoming a critical thinker can help you develop strategies where you overcome the obstacles that life presents. Here are some obstacles you may want to obliterate from your life – and that’s possible with critical thinking:
- Analyze the influences in your life. Then, learn to make your own decisions rather than falling under those influences.
- Get your ego under control. Your ego may be keeping you back from advancing at work and from developing better relationships. Critical thinking can help you think without the influence of an inflated ego.
- Solve problems. Being too scattered to solve the issues and “thinking” with emotions usually doesn’t solve anything. When you think critically, you get in touch with your feelings and solve problems through logical thinking.
- Stop wasting time. You may waste entire days of productivity by going in many directions at once. You may not enjoy anything you do while wasting your time, because you know you’re going to be behind on your work or frustrated about wasting the day. Critical thinking can teach you how to evaluate your time and spend it wisely.
You have a great capacity to think critically and improve your life exponentially, but most of the time, it’s dormant. That’s because it’s undeveloped. However, you can improve it with practice, just as you learned a musical instrument or sport.
Curiosity Has A Purpose
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
Few men in history can match Einstein for his capacity to think critically. Inherent curiosity is one of the traits of highly influential critical thinkers. With that curiosity comes the practice of questioning. You might want to explore, discover, and reveal new ideas. This is why teachers today often use techniques in their teaching practices to drive learners’ curiosity. When students are taught to explore a topic through big questions and getting increasingly specific it makes them think deeper.
If you do not practice critical thinking as a habit, you’re not even mindful of it most of the time. Instead, you sit staring at a mind-numbing program on television, playing mindless video games, or engaging in gossip or other pursuits that don’t require critical thinking.
“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted: nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.” Francis Bacon
There is so much opinion and perspective being shared freely through online and offline channels today. One must indeed be able to read something without taking it immediately to heart. Thus analytical skills for reading are valuable skills to foster. One way to do this is to ask yourself thoughtful questions as you read.
The purpose for this is simple; not only does it cultivate independent skills to think critically, but it helps you enjoy reading more. Rather than passively consuming the words you read, you are questioning and observing, looking for hidden meanings, recognizing patterns and relations to experiences you’ve had, and more.
There is an inherent danger in taking what you read at face value. This is why the capacity to think critically about what we read factors extensively into its process. If you want to develop the critical thinking traits, know that you must study and research – then put what you’ve learned into practice daily. And most importantly, It’s worth the effort.
I am Shirley Noah, an internationally known stress expert and author of “Say No To Stress: A Practical Approach to Stress Management.” I would love to connect further with you to help you improve your health and wellbeing. If you are interested in learning more about self-talk, please take a look at my popular Optimize Your Self Talk