What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is about achieving the best possible outcome in any situation.
In order to achieve this, it must involve gathering and evaluate information from as many different sources possible. It requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.
If you’re the type to question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value you may be a critical thinker. Even if you aren’t a natural problem solver there are ways to be a more analytical thinker so you can achieve the best possible outcome in life.
Critical Thinking is Problem Solving
Critical thinkers identify, analyze and solve problems systematically rather than emotionally. We need to be aware of our personal preferences and biases that affect how we view the world. The more clearly we are aware of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, the more effective our critical thinking will be. It’s important to have a clear assessment of your personal strengths, weaknesses and preferences and their possible impact on decisions you may make.
How to Think Critically
Our decision making is more likely to succeed when we consider the impact our actions make on the people and activities around us.
Step 1- Start by considering what you already know. Ask yourself questions that might get you to the outcome you’re looking for.
Step 2- Be a nerdy scientist and come up with a hypothesis (an educated guess on what could happen based on past experiences or research)
Step 3- Think of what the worst thing that could possibly happen as a result of your actions – most of the time it’s never as bad as you think it’ll be. Also, take into consideration what would be the result of not taking action. Important issues that are ignored tend to stay the same or get worse.
Step 4- Evaluate the options you could take and the consequences – good and bad, of each option. Make the best decision for your self with the least amount of negative outcomes.
Step 5- Most importantly, if you come across new and better information after you started don’t be afraid to adjust your actions accordingly in order to come up with a better result. There is nothing wrong with being wrong, there is something wrong with not learning from your mistakes.
Applying Critical Thinking to Life
Critical thinking will make you a better decision maker and able to rationalize why people act and react the way they do so you can be better prepared to handle situations and people. It’s a critical yet overlooked skill that every adult needs to master to understand the world around us and to make better decisions.