Our lives are nothing but the products of our thoughts and decisions. Therefore, if we increase the quality of what we think, our lives can change for the better. One way to do this is to increase our critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is the process of reasoning so as to analyze an idea. It involves digging deeper into it for the purpose of achieving our full potential in life, in other words, it is the process of thinking better.
If you are disciplined, motivated and ready to grow, here is how to improve your critical thinking skills.
Do not assume, investigate
In our day to day lives, we make many assumptions about almost everything. Our brains are designed so as to make these assumptions for the purpose of processing information. Making assumptions is a critical part of the framework of our brains. However, these assumptions could be wrong or inaccurate. Critical thinking requires that we don't make any assumptions. It also demands that any assumptions are deconstructed and examined for relevance and truthfulness. Assumptions can be analyzed by asking 'why?'. Doing this increases our ability to think critically and come up with conclusions of a higher quality.
Investigate before you accept any information as true
During our daily activities, we are bombarded with information. It comes from both trustworthy and untrustworthy sources. Therefore, we simply place the information that we get into one of this previous pair of categories. Doing this saves us the time and energy that would be needed to examine the information more closely. Unfortunately, it also makes us accept information as trustworthy while it could be false. Just because something has been published or broadcasted in the media doesn't mean that it is true. Critical thinking demands that we get to the bottom of this information to determine the nature of its validity.
To think critically, we must be ready to question literally everything. You should question any news you get, the statements made by figures of authority and also what you are taught. Making queries is one of the foundation activities in critical thinking. Firstly, find the questions that you should ask in every situation. Secondly, figure out how to ask these questions in such a way that you get constructive answers. This will definitely improve your critical thinking skills.
Comprehend your personal biases
Biases are the conclusions that we make about the world around us based on our own judgement. According to studies, our judgement can sometimes be very misguided, weak and spiteful. It can result in conclusions that are highly inaccurate about other people or things too. If a certain piece of information damages one's self esteem or pricks the ego, then it can be taken negatively or assigned a negative bias even if it is helpful. Therefore, to fully develop your critical thinking skills, you need to identify out your biases and examine them, this will result in narratives of higher quality.
Plan many steps ahead of your peers
You can think of life as a game of chess. To succeed, you must plan many steps ahead of your opponent. Critical thinking involves this form of thought. It is not enough to think only two or three steps ahead. You should plan and strategize as many steps ahead as possible. Brainstorm a wide variety of futures that your present could take. Doing this helps you to anticipate possible challenges and be prepared for them. Thus, your critical thinking skills improve.
Identify your main purpose while you are making decisions
Whenever we make a decision in life, there is a specific purpose attached to it. There are goals to the decisions that we make. This purpose is very useful as a guideline for one's thoughts and actions. Ensure that your purpose is clear. Put it in words and let it be your starting point. After that, think and make decisions that align with your purpose. In this way, you are able to increase your critical thinking skills.
Think about the consequences of your actions
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Our actions are the results of our decisions. It is possible to predict or estimate possible results. One way of doing this is to put ourselves in the shoes of the stakeholders who are going to be affected by them. Examine how they could feel or react in response to our decisions. This helps you to be prepared for any outcome. You are able to create back up plans that cover any eventuality of your decisions.
Stay aware of the processes happening in your mind
The process of human thinking is simply astounding. The brain is one of the most complex structures known to man. We think in many ways. One of these is through heuristics. This is the process of making mental shortcuts so as to process a lot of information really fast. This method is effective when we are engaged in live events such as sports or self-defense. However, heuristics are not reliable from a critical thinking point of view. This is because they browse through information without taking a deeper look. Heuristics are also heavily influenced by biases. Therefore, improve your critical thinking skills by identifying when you are using heuristics to think and switch to more comprehensive thinking.
Look through the evidence of previous chains of thought
When thinking critically, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. Any problem that you are dealing with or trying to solve has most likely been solved by someone else before you arrived on the scene. To get through it faster and more successfully, simply check to see the results of those who came before you. Use them to guide your decisions and this will indicate better critical thinking skills.
The Important Take Away
Thinking critically significantly boosts your chances of success in the endeavors of life. You are able to obtain much more successful results when you think in this way. The steps above can help you to improve your critical thinking skills. Learn and apply them and you will observe a marked increase in the quality of your life.