How To Improve Your Critical Thinking

Sometimes we become irritated about matters beyond our control. So why not take advantage of the time you normally waste by practicing your critical thinking during that otherwise wasted time? Did I allow any negative thinking to frustrate me unnecessarily?

Sometimes we jump from one diversion to another, without enjoying any of them. The key is that the time is “gone” even though, if we had thought about it and considered our options, we would never have deliberately spent our time in the way we did.

Though you probably can’t do all of these at the same time, we recommend an approach in which you experiment with all of these over an extended period of time. All humans waste some time; that is, fail to use all of their time productively or even pleasurably.

Nevertheless, each represents a plausible way to begin to do something concrete to improve thinking in a regular way.

Many of the negative definitions that we give to situations in our lives could in principle be transformed into positive ones.

We can be happy when otherwise we would have been sad. For example, you might ask yourself questions like these: When did I do my worst thinking today? Did I act in accordance with my own expressed values? Sometimes we fail to plan well causing us negative consequences we could easily have avoided (for example, we spend time unnecessarily trapped in traffic — though we could have left a half hour earlier and avoided the rush). For example, instead of sitting in front of the TV at the end of the day flicking from channel to channel in a vain search for a program worth watching, spend that time, or at least part of it, thinking back over your day and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. If I had to repeat today what would I do differently? Did I do anything today to further my long-term goals? It would be important of course to take a little time with each question. If I spent every day this way for 10 years, would I at the end have accomplished something worthy of that time?It is not possible to become an excellent thinker simply because one wills it. Distinguish Problems over which you have some control from problems over which you have no control.Changing one’s habits of thought is a long-range project, happening over years, not weeks or months. Set aside the problems over which you have no control, concentrating your efforts on those problems you can potentially solve. Distinguish problems under your control from problems beyond your control. It is unlikely to take place in the absence of a conscious commitment to learn. In other words, systematically think through the questions: What exactly is the problem? How does it relate to my goals, purposes, and needs? State the problem as clearly and precisely as you can. Improvement in thinking is like improvement in basketball, in ballet, or in playing the saxophone. Figure out the logic of the problem by identifying its elements.8) When you act, monitor the implications of your action as they begin to emerge. For example, concentrating on intellectual humility, begin to notice when you admit you are wrong.Be ready at a moment’s notice to revise your strategy if the situation requires it. Notice when you refuse to admit you are wrong, even in the face of glaring evidence that you are in fact wrong.


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