Critical thinking is one of the many ways people are taking control of their life and understanding the way the world works around them. At its core critical thinking is simply the ability to apply logic and reason to a new situation and approach it from an open minded view. It’s taking a look at something from as many angles as you can to get a true understanding. When people apply critical thinking it gives them a better understand of the world and to understand how their own thinking can be flawed. It helps them accept the thoughts and opinions of others, making it common in debates and even science.
Being Open Minded
One of the main aims of critical thinking is to expand and open your mind to everything around you. It’s very difficult to accept something you don’t personally believe. Stubbornly refusing to see the world through someone else’s eyes is one of the biggest reasons conflict exists. Open yourself up to the views of another and you can settle things without conflict.
Being open minded also increases your potential for knowledge. When you approach a problem in a critical manner you understand it more fully. You can see all the possible answers to a problem, including ones you might have not considered before because they conflicted with your world view. This is important in science, for example, as scientists constantly have to accept things that disagree with what they think to be true to make huge discoveries. Think of where the world would be if scientists had decided that space travel was impossible because it conflicted with what they believed.
Become More Empathic
Because critical thinking is looking at things objectively and from outside your own world view, it makes you more empathic to the people around you. That means you can relate to them and understand their emotions and why they think and feel the way they do. Empathising is also used by people like historians to understand the way people of a different era would think and feel. It’s an important part of any team as you have to be empathic to the people in your team. Of course it also helps a lot with interpersonal relationships.
How To Apply Critical Thinking
Now that you understand critical thinking and some of the reasons it is so important it’s time to take a look at how to actually do it. Critical thinking begins with thinking about a situation, about everything you know about it. Then you take some extra time to understand and think about the things you don’t know. This forms your initial knowledge base, or what you know going in to the situation.
When you try to do this a good start is by researching more about the subject, especially if it’s one that you don’t understand too well. This is another case where it works so well for scientific study. By understanding what isn’t known about something, a scientist can come up with experiments to give them the necessary information to fill in the gaps.
When you apply this kind of thinking to life, and especially your own thoughts, you begin to realise and see the prejudices that you hold. You see the preconceived notions in your head. If you think about something for more than five seconds you’ll find yourself thinking “Why do I think that?”
When you understand the preconceived ideas and prejudices that you hold you can work to eliminate them or avoid them in the future and approach things more objectively. It’s a very useful tool for eliminating fears. Especially irrational fears. Why are you afraid of heights? Is it because you fell from a high place once? How many times have you fallen since then? If it’s not a lot then what are you afraid of? Understanding fears is the first crucial step in overcoming them.
This kind of thinking can be applied to all areas of our lives. It’s not just overcoming fear. It’s creating an understanding of people and the world. It’s creating new and unique solutions to the problems you face. It’s an important step in self-improvement and self-help.