Thinking is a process that occurs naturally for everyone, but thinking skills can be improved and this can be done for a lifetime. You need to set aside a lot of time to study and practice in order to be able to think well and sharpen your sharpness of thinking. This ability is beneficial for maintaining mental and physical health in the long term!
Part 1 of 3: Practicing Different Ways of Thinking
Step 1. Know different ways of thinking
Humans think in various ways. Some ways are more effective than others and no one way of thinking is the most appropriate. You need to know different ways of thinking in order to understand your own and others' thinking processes. Although there are many different ways of thinking, two of the most frequently used are:
- Conceptual thinking is done by finding out patterns and relationships between various abstract ideas so that a correct and comprehensive understanding is formed. For example, if you are thinking conceptually while playing chess: you look at the chessboard and remember, "This configuration is familiar to me" and decide your next move based on a familiar playing pattern.
- Thinking intuitively is based on instinct (thinking only using instinct). Sometimes, the brain processes more information without realizing it. This is called instinct. For example, you might decide that you don't want to date a guy who seems fun because he's following his instincts. After some time, you find out that he is a former sexual assault convict. This process occurs because the brain is able to pick up certain signals that the conscious mind cannot.
Step 2. Learn the 5 thinking styles
Harrison and Bramson, authors of The Art of Thinking postulate 5 thinking styles: synthesis, idealist, pragmatic, analytical, realist. Knowing your way of thinking and your style of thinking helps you make the most of your habit of thinking. Whether you use one or more thinking styles, the thinking process is more effective if you use a variety of styles.
- Synthetic thinkers tend to be conflicted (play the role of the one who is always opposed) and usually ask "what if" topics. However, they use conflict to provoke creativity and broaden their horizons so that they are able to understand the situation correctly and thoroughly.
- Idealistic thinkers are accustomed to understanding situations from all aspects, rather than based on only certain aspects. They are more interested in people and feelings than facts and figures. They also like to think about and plan for the future.
- Pragmatic thinkers tend to prioritize practical matters. They have a good ability to think spontaneously and make short-term plans. Besides being creative, they are easy to adapt when changes occur. Sometimes, they seem to do things spontaneously without a plan.
- Analytical thinkers usually try to break down a problem into several aspects, rather than solving them all at once. They are used to making lists, scheduling activities, and looking for detailed information so that daily routines run smoothly and problems are resolved properly.
- Realist thinkers reject illogical things. They are used to asking crucial questions and doing whatever is necessary to solve problems because they know the cause and how to solve it. They are aware of their own shortcomings. Many people have some traits of a realist thinker.
Step 3. Get in the habit of thinking divergently, instead of converging
When thinking convergently, you consider only 2 options (for example, judging someone based solely on the criteria of good or bad). When you think divergently, you are open-minded so you can consider all aspects (for example, realizing that everyone has a good side and a bad side).
- To be able to think divergently when dealing with other people or problems, pay attention to how you understand the person or problem. Do you give yourself limited options (for example, does he hate you if he can't meet you and does he like you if he is always with you?) Do you use the phrase "this or that"? If you notice you're judging, stop immediately, and then ask yourself: do you only have that option? Usually you don't.
- Convergent thinking is not always bad. This method is very useful in various things, such as mathematics (which always requires correct answers), but is very detrimental if applied in daily life.
Step 4. Develop critical thinking skills
Critical thinking means analyzing situations or information objectively by collecting as much information and facts as possible from various sources and then evaluating based on the information collected.
- In essence, critical thinking means understanding things without making assumptions. Don't assume that someone understands what he or she is saying. Instead, invest in making sure it's correct.
- Observe the impact your prejudices and perspectives have on things. Find out the prejudices and perspectives that other people use when thinking. You must challenge the assumptions that arise from your own thinking.
Part 2 of 3: Understanding the Fundamental Things for Thinking
Step 1. Challenge your assumptions
In order to be able to think well, you must challenge the assumptions used. Culture and social life have a direct impact on your thinking. Therefore, you must determine which thoughts are beneficial and which are not.
Consider a variety of information. If you hear news, even good ones, make sure it's true by looking for information from other sources. Look for facts that support or contradict the story and ask others for their opinion. For example, you heard the news that bras cause cancer in women and this theory is interesting enough (as a woman, it makes you feel anxious about wearing a bra) that you want to know more about it. Then, you start gathering information, but get no evidence to support this theory. However, the truth is not revealed if you do not consider various information
Step 2. Cultivate curiosity
People who are considered "great thinkers" are those who are curious. They keep asking questions about themselves and things in everyday life without stopping to look for answers.
- When meeting someone, ask him various things about him, but don't offend him (eg: where did you study? what faculty? why did you choose this faculty? and so on). In general, people like to tell stories about themselves and many interesting things you can learn by asking.
- Show curiosity about things in everyday life. For example, if you're on an airplane, find out the intricacies of flight mechanics, the benefits of airflow, the history of the invention of the airplane (don't just read the Wright brothers' biographies).
- If you have free time, visit a museum (find out when you can enter the museum for free), take part in activities at the library, or teach at a nearby campus. There are many ways to satisfy curiosity about things at no cost.
Step 3. Find out the real facts
The problem with doing this step is that there is no absolute truth. However, you can train and improve your thinking skills by trying to find the core of the problem in all aspects of life (social, political, personal, etc.).
- Make sure you avoid fake news about a particular issue by seeking the truth based on evidence (true facts). Open your mind while doing this. Otherwise, you will ignore all facts, except those that support information that you believe or agree with.
- For example, the issue of climate change has become the subject of so much politicization that people have a hard time confirming the truth (e.g., climate change is happening and is happening very fast because of human activity) as a result of a lot of misinformation and accusing each other that the facts are true. ignored or distorted.
Step 4. Think of creative solutions
The right way to develop thinking skills is to use creative thinking to come up with new, unique and innovative strategies when dealing with unexpected events. Practice thinking skills at school, at work, or on the bus.
- Daydreaming has proven to be a powerful tool that is very useful for thinking, solving problems, and realizing various desires. Set aside a little time each day to daydream. Find a quiet place and let your mind wander freely (the best time to daydream is before bedtime).
- If you are looking for creative ways to overcome adversity, ask yourself the following questions: what would you do if you could use all available resources, who would you turn to if you could ask someone else for help, what would you do if you could not afraid to fail. This question helps you open your mind to look for opportunities so you don't focus on limitations.
Step 5. Gather information
Make sure you know how to get reliable information. Many irrational news circulating and some seem true. Learn how to distinguish true and false sources of information.
- Libraries are a very useful source of information! In addition to books, films, and documentation that you can borrow, you can attend free courses and workshops or get information about these activities. Librarians are able to answer questions or provide appropriate sources of information.
- In addition, the library maintains an archive of photos and newspapers published in your area or city. Use it as a source of information to expand your knowledge about the city you live in.
- Certain websites provide a wealth of information on various subjects, for example to learn the computational and scientific knowledge of Wolfram|Alpha, search for manuscripts written by medieval artists to the present in digital books, or practice doing problems through the Open University website for free. Keep in mind that you need to maintain the right level of skepticism about all information obtained (through the internet, books, or documentation). Sticking to facts and an open mind is more beneficial than natural intelligence.
Part 3 of 3: Improving Thinking Ability
Step 1. Use language to change the way you think
Scientists prove that language has a big influence on the way of thinking. For example, people who grew up in a culture that used the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), instead of right and left as in England, were able to show direction with a compass.
Learn at least 1 foreign language. Scientists have also proven that bilingual people (speaking bilingually) are able to understand other people according to the language used. You will get to know a new way of thinking by learning a foreign language
Step 2. Learn things
Learning is not just going to school and memorizing historical facts. Learning is a lifelong process and covers very diverse aspects. If you keep learning, you are always thinking and exposed to new ways of thinking.
- Be careful when receiving information from those in authority. Don't rely on other people's opinions even if they seem very understanding of the topic being discussed. Find out the real facts and consider other perspectives. Don't just believe it if the argument or reason is illogical. Don't stop looking for evidence or supporting facts just because the information comes from an authoritative party (such as a newspaper, professor, or senator). Arguments or information are likely to be true if various independent sources convey the same thing.
- Get in the habit of being skeptical when you find out something. Make sure the information comes from multiple sources (especially independent sources). Find out who is spreading the information (did the informant receive subsidies from the big oil companies, have a vested interest in spreading misinformation, or don't understand what he's trying to convey?).
- Do new things and leave your comfort zone. The more you do this, the easier it will be to understand opinions and ideas that don't fit your perspective. Plus, you're also exposed to ideas that you didn't know about. Take a cooking class, learn to knit, or study astronomy.
Step 3. Do various exercises
You can improve your thinking skills in a number of ways. The brain needs to be trained like any muscle in the rest of the body. The more often it is used, the brain gets stronger and the ability to think increases.
- Do math problems. Doing math problems regularly improves mental abilities and prevents brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. Do some math problems every day (you don't have to answer calculus problems, just add 2 numbers by thinking, instead of using a calculator).
- Memorize poetry. In addition to impressing the audience (especially if the poem is long), memorizing is useful for improving memory skills so that thinking skills are getting better. You can memorize aphorisms as a spice for conversation at the right time.
- Give yourself small challenges on a regular basis, for example taking a different route from home to work, listening to a new genre of music, watching a documentary on a new topic, learning a new word, trying a new sport, setting aside time for painting or drawing, learning a foreign language, or volunteer.
Step 4. Practice focusing your mind
When you need to think, this exercise is useful for calming and controlling the mind if needed. In addition to dealing with mental disorders, these exercises help you expand your knowledge and think while studying.
- Do mindfulness exercises while walking. Instead of being carried away by thoughts, observe the sensations you are experiencing through the five senses by noticing the green of the trees, the blue of the sky, the clouds passing overhead; listen to the sound of footsteps, the rustle of the wind in the leaves, the sound of the people around; smell the air and feel the various sensations on your skin (cold, warm, gust of wind, etc.) Don't judge when you observe them (too cold, beautiful sky, bad smell, etc.). You just need to pay attention to every sensation experienced at that moment.
- Get in the habit of meditating for at least 15 minutes every day. In addition to clearing and calming the mind, this exercise is beneficial for resting the brain. For beginners, find a quiet, distraction-free place to meditate (if you get used to it, you can meditate on the bus, at work, at the airport). Breathe in deeply by taking deep breaths until your abdominal muscles expand. During meditation, focus on the breath. If a distracting thought comes up, ignore it. You just need to pay attention to the breath while focusing your mind on the inhalation and exhalation.
Step 5. Take care of your physical health and social life
Performing physical movements during daily activities plays a very important role in maintaining sharpness of mind. Prevent dementia by exercising moderate intensity and socializing regularly. Make a schedule for socializing and exercising as part of your daily routine.
Step 6. Challenge yourself by learning something new every day
Apart from mastering a new skill or acquiring new information, this step allows the mind to expand. Set aside time to learn or do something new every day, such as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, doing practice questions on the free duoLingo website, Code Academy, or another app that interests you.