Mon, Apr 26, 21

Critical Thinking: Why it’s Important and How to Improve It

The decisions you make affect your quality of life, so thinking and processing information logically and carefully is crucial. Critical thinking is one of the most valuable assets you can possess. Here we’ll discuss what critical thinking is and how you can develop it.

What is Critical Thinking?

two old men playing chess


We’ve all heard of critical thinking, but what is it exactly? While there are several definitions, critical thinking is the ability to think about your thinking. It’s a method of analyzing information in a way that is self-monitoring, self-correcting, self-directed, and self-disciplined. It includes creative problem-solving, effective communication, and a commitment to open-minded evaluation of the information to form a clear and reasonable judgment.  

Related:  Mental Acuity: A Guide to Staying Mentally Sharp

Why is it so Important?

Critical thinking is a quality required for any high-level career, and it’s one that so many people boast of having. 

Here are a few reasons critical thinking is essential:  

  • Critical thinking is imperative for the growth and development of industries like technology, finance, and information. They require flexible, out-of-the-box thinking to solve problems creatively, utilize the vast amounts of new and changing data, and remain competitive with innovations. 
  • Critical thinking is universally recognized as an asset, regardless of your career, industry, or social standing. 
  • Critical thinking improves language and presentation skills. It means the ability to dissect texts and other information to find salient details and discard nonsense. 
  • Critical thinking is the basis of science and democracy. True scientific discovery requires critical thinking the relies on rigorous proofs, not anecdotal evidence. A liberal democracy must have citizens who can think critically about the issues and come to well-thought-out conclusions. Critical thinking can help people to reject bias and prejudices.
  • Critical thinking allows us to be self-reflective and evaluate our thinking and behavior in light of sound principles.
  • Critical thinking allows for creative problem-solving on all levels because of expanded thinking.  

The Benefits of Critical Thinking

two co workers solving a problem through critical thinking


Here are a few of the benefits of critical thinking:   

Enhances Creativity & Problem-Solving

Critical thinking is, by its very nature, creative. A part of the process of critical thinking is to think beyond the information or opinions that are presented and to consider possibilities that are not obvious. This is creativity, and it is beneficial in every area of life. Problem-solving is included with creativity because they are both about people not being stuck with limited perceptions of a situation. A critical thinker is open to new ideas and new ways of solving problems. 

Boost Curiosity

To think critically, you must be prepared to question everything. A critical thinker is not satisfied by what has been put before them; they are curious about what has not been presented. Curiosity is the precursor of deeper understanding, and a critical thinker is curious about the world around them. They want to understand other people’s experiences of life along with their own and are open to considering different views. 

Related: These Foods Will Give Your Brain More Power

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Multi-Faceted Thinking

Critical thinking promotes the following multi-faceted cognitive activities:

  • Reasoning skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Evaluation skills
  • Decision-making
  • Problem-solving
  • Logical thinking
  • Language skills
  • Organization and planning skills
  • Observational skills
  • Self-observation
  • Questioning
  • Creative visualization
  • Open-mindedness

These activities involve all parts of your brain. 

Greater Independence

Critical thinking is independent thinking. It doesn’t feel the need to go along with everyone else. When it is evident that the masses are easily swayed by popular opinion, a critical thinker is not easily swayed.  

Skill for Life

There are many times in our lives when we are being persuaded to make decisions or take action. Critical thinkers are not easily convinced to act contrary to their good. They consider the facts, ask the right questions, and come to an opinion or decision that is right for them. 

Happier Life

The way we think has a massive influence on how we live and how much we enjoy our existence. Critical thinking is the ability to know and understand your thinking processes. You’re able to observe your thinking and recognize limiting beliefs, automatic negative thoughts, and other oppressive thought patterns that make life less joyful. Additionally, you have the authority to create thinking that is positive and will make life more pleasant.  

How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

raising hand to ask a question


To be a more critical thinker, you will use your life experiences, observations, communication with other people, and reasoning to make good decisions and informed opinions. 

Here are a few things you can do to improve your critical thinking skills:

  1. Become more self-aware. This means to understand your thinking process, your morals, values, ethics, and biases. This first step is about objectively evaluating your strengths and weaknesses when processing information. 
  2. Question assumptions. Throughout life, we operate within premises passed down to us by people who may not have known any better themselves. When faced with a situation or a decision, don’t accept the stated limitations without first questioning them and their sources. Be open to consider possibilities that may seem absurd at first.
  3. Ask questions. Slightly different from questioning assumptions, this is about asking questions throughout your analytical process. Confirm that what you know is correct, then ask questions about other facets of the issue to understand better.
  4. Practice active listening. Listen attentively and carefully when people are expressing their thoughts, needs, or requirements. You will undoubtedly come to a clearer understanding of their views than if you were in a posture of immediate rebuttal.   
  5. Reason through logic. Reason means to make sense of something, and applying logic means using clear, progressive, sound principles to weigh information.  
  6. Think long and short term. When problem-solving, consider solutions that work for now but also work later. Long and short-term consequences must be factors in your process.
  7. Look at all sides of an argument. There is value in understanding other sides of an issue - although you may disagree. Different views can create a complete picture and provide a significant amount of new information to be considered. 

Related: How To Be More Creative: Tips and Tricks to Improve Imagination 

Final thoughts

Any of us are susceptible to groupthink. But being an independent, critical thinker is a benefit in every area of your life. Critical thinkers are in short supply but in high demand. Use the tips above to become a logical, reasonable, and creative thinker.

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