Strategies to Increase Your Critical Thinking

Strategies to Increase Your Critical ThinkingThe human brain is truly an incredible thing. Once we put our minds to it, we can do anything we want to. It just takes a bit more thinking to start improving on any skill we might have. Improving on a skill won’t magically happen by itself; people have to put the time and effort in in order to improve on themselves. By following certain strategies, any person with a drive to improve or work on something, can mentally develop as a thinker. Below we’ll explain three of these strategies, and how you can apply these to yourself to increase your critical thinking.

1) Another Day, Another Problem

Whenever you have some free time, be it at the beginning of the day, on your lunch break, at the end of the day, or even in the middle of the night, think of a problem that you could potentially solve. It could be anything to do within your daily life, your family, somebody around you, something that you’re doing, an object – literally anything – and starting questioning the aspects about it. What is the problem? Why is it a problem? By solving it, how does it relate to what you want to achieve? How does it help you accomplish your goals?

Make sure to study your problem so you learn what every aspect of it is.  Be clear on what it is you are solving. Think about whether or not you have control over the problem, and if not, can you solve this problem otherwise? Do however focus more on the problems you can solve, as you will feel a sense of accomplishment once they are completed. If necessary, carry out some independent research in order to solve your problem. Make sure to examine and investigate the research you’ve collected, and use it to figure out your solution.

Once you’ve found any information you need, and learnt your problem inside and out, start to think about your options. Which solution is best for you? Are there advantages or disadvantages to your solutions? Think through a strategic approach to solving your problem, and follow through with it. This may vary on your problem, but the strategy may take time or it may be something you can solve instantly. Once the problem starts to be resolved, record the results of your actions, and monitor what effect they’re having on you.

Strategically thinking through one problem per day allows you to open up your mind and consider every aspect of something, rather than a primary focus. You can apply this method to everything else in life as well.

2) Write a logical diary

Aim to write a certain amount of diary entries each week. Don’t just write a general diary though about how you’re feeling and what has happened, but focus on particular situations. Has anything happened to affect you in a specific way – did something have an emotional significance on you? Ensure to abide by the following structure, keeping the same pattern too:

  1. The situation – by focusing on one at a time, write about something that you care about, something that has impacted on you in a certain way. Be as detailed or as brief as you feel is necessary to the situation.
  2. The response – how did the situation make you feel? What emotions did you encounter? Was there any action you took to this situation? Describe everything you felt and did from it, and be as detailed as possible.
  3. The analysis – Think deeper into what happened in the situation. What exactly was going on? Is there a certain part of the situation that you can identify with that makes you feel a specific emotion? Is there something going on between you and whatever happened in the situation? Really think about the cause and effect of it.
  4. The assessment – Reflect on your analysis. What did you find? Did you do some learning in the process? Upon revisiting the situation, what would you do differently? Would you do anything differently?

You should find in this strategy that you will think deeper about yourself, and what you feel and react to certain things. This strategy really focuses on you and your reaction to environmental factors, and how to go about them if they’ve upset you. This can be applied to anything in your daily life, and can be passed on as valuable advice.

3) Redefine your personality

Consider an intellectual characteristic: humility, empathy, perseverance, integrity, courage, etc. Choose one trait to focus on per month, and focus on how you can develop this trait to enhance your character.

For example, if it’s intellectual integrity you’ve chosen to focus on, you might start to think about how to be true to your thinking. Consider how you react to others, and how you would feel if they reacted to you in the same way. As the proverb goes, ‘Treat others how you wish to be treated’. Start to notice when you feel uncomfortable with how others are treating you – have you treated them in the same way? By focusing on your reactions to others’ actions, you will start to think about your own. You’ll start to think about your actions and the consequences of them, before you act them out. This’ll make you think in a critical way of cause and effect – for example, if you react in a certain way, what will be the effect on others and yourself?

Each month you’ll find that you’ll see things in a different light – you’ll start to improve on yourself. Thinking in this strategic method gives you a chance to reflect on yourself, as well as monitoring your character. With this, you can start to take responsibility for your actions, and put right what was wrong.

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