How To Become A Better Critical Thinker

5 Ways You Can Become More Creative and a Better Problem Solver

It’s a widely known concept that our thoughts determine who we become and the reality we create in our lives.

Numerous books have been written on the power of our thoughts including:

  • The Magic of Thinking Big
  • As a Man Thinketh
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • The Power of Positive Thinking
  • The Science of Getting Rich

As our thoughts dictate how and what we experience in life, it’s important that we become better at directing our thoughts in order to be more creative and become better problem solvers.

Many years ago, Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” The concept of critical thinking is just one technique that can be used to generate intelligent thoughts that can be directed towards creating positive outcomes and problem solving.

What is Critical Thinking?

According to the dictionary, critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.

According to the Critical Thinking Community website, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Put simply, critical thinking is a process or way of thinking that facilitates the achievement of specifically defined outcomes.

How to develop critical thinking skills

Examples of how critical thinking can be used in everyday life include:

  • Gain higher levels of clarity in situations.
  • Explore or evaluate situations in greater depth.
  • Achieve results easier and faster.
  • Identify alternate options or solutions when working through problems.

5 Ways to Become a Better Critical Thinker

  1. Ask higher-level questions. This is often referred to as “going meta,” which is another way of saying to look at a situation from a higher level rather than at ground level. The best way to do that is to ask questions and continue taking it higher. Questions may include:
    – What is currently happening?
    – What has contributed to this happening now?
    – What is true or untrue about the situation?
    – How is this situation (X) related to something going on (Y)?
    – How will X be affected if Y changes?
  2. Develop your mental faculty of perception. Perception is our point of view and the way we look at things. Frequently, when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at begin to change. Asking ourselves, “How can I look at this situation from a different perspective?” is a good starting point.
  3. Question your beliefs. Oftentimes, the results we create or the situations we find ourselves in, are due to our beliefs. If we are not getting the outcomes we want, we should always question our beliefs. Asking questions such as:
    – Why do I believe this situation to be true or false, or right or wrong?
    – How are my beliefs supporting me in this situation?
    – Who would I be without my beliefs about this situation?
    – How have I contributed to this situation?
  4. Use your “downtime” better. We all have downtime everyday which can be a great time to reflect on things. For example, if we are stuck in traffic or waiting in a queue, we can use that time to reflect on a situation we are going through. As our time will be wasted otherwise, we can use it to think about our day, what we want to do or what we did or didn’t do, what we are striving to achieve, and how we are challenging ourselves to go to our next level in any area of our lives.
  5. Solve a problem daily. We become better at something by doing more of it. If we want to become better problem solvers, then it makes sense to solve more problems. Sometimes, these do not have to be our own problems. For example, if we know someone experiencing a problem, we can ask, “If I was in that situation, how would I deal with it?” or “How would my best self tackle this problem?” The more we train ourselves to think in solution terms, the better we’ll become at solving problems.

It isn’t necessary to be thinking critically all the time as that would be mentally exhausting, and we may not achieve our desired outcomes in a timely manner. The key is to use critical thinking in times when something needs to be solved urgently or quickly. If we start applying these techniques, we will become better problem solvers over time.

Action Step: Choose a problem or situation you’re currently dealing with and apply the ideas suggested above to reach a solution quicker. Capture your learnings so that you can continue getting better each time you practice these ideas.

Question: What is an area in which you can start applying critical thinking?

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