Thinking more clearly and imaginatively is useful for today’s problem solver. Here are 12 ways to enhance your thinking.
Take a course in logic. Study fallacies in thought. Buy a book on critical thinking. Take some action to find out what is a better or worse way to think.
While you may feel you have a handle on proper thinking, the truth is that you may have a basic understanding of what it means to be logically sound or valid, but you’re not sure the steps needed to see that it is so.
Taking the time to study this will count dividends towards your success.
Now that you have studied the ways of thinking, you will begin to become aware of your own ways of thinking. This is a good thing. You will now be able to evaluate your own reasoning. You will be able to think about thinking, and this thinking will be directed and meaningful, since you have studied logic.
This will make you an evaluative machine. You will be able to handle, not only the problems you face, but how to decided to handle those problems. Your thinking will be refined even more so.
Be Aware Of Biases
Your awareness of how you think will allow you to see your own biases in thinking. Many times we make decisions and conclusions based on our own biased thought.
We fail to see what another argument has to say and dismiss it without genuine evaluation. There are different ways to try to shake up your own thought and break up your biases.
Reflective Thinking “Cues”
Have you ever gotten lost while reading and realize you have “read” 3 pages without actually knowing what you have read? Activities in daily life also have that tendency. Once you get into a “zone” or a pattern of repetition, your thinking takes a back seat and you forget what’s going on.
To limit this, whenever I would get to the end of a page, I would take that as my “cue” to try to see if I had actually been paying attention.
Use this is other areas of life. At the end of each day take time to reflect on important lessons from the day. Sit down, and actively evaluate something that had been said to you or something you said yourself.
Doing this small thing will work wonders for your thinking.
Write Down Important Thoughts
You have the capacity to go through so many thoughts in one day. So many ideas, creations, etc.
If you get a good one, one that seems like it should be followed up on, write it down. Chances are, even if the thought seems extremely cool, if you are preoccupied with something, you may forget it.
Writing it down will give you a chance to reflect on ideas you had thought up throughout the whole day.
Narrow Down Your Problem
Thinking is problem-oriented. Whether it’s a simple curiosity, or an existential crisis, thinking is the process involved in trying to find the solution.
As such, in order to enhance your thinking, try to see the target you are aiming for. For different problems, this target can range from just a broad direction to a precise point in space.
Just make sure your thinking is directed at the right problem, otherwise it may be wasted energy.
Understand Values Involved
Why is this problem important? Who cares? Why should they care? Is the problem even worth solving?
If not, why are you trying to do so? If so, what values are at stake? If you are trying to create a cheap product, the relevant values at stake are price, usefulness, durability, etc.
Knowing the most relevant values will make sure your solution is what you want it to be.
Pose the Problem in the Form of a Question
Ask yourself a question. How can I make a cheap product that is still durable? How can I provide my customers with better service? Step two is to answer this question.
Give your best answer possible. It should not be your conclusion. This is only your mind’s first suggestion.
It will give you a great starting point but your goal should be to evaluate this suggestion.
Be Your Own Devil
Counter your first suggestion. Think of how you would be wrong. Think of what someone else would try to say to make it crumble.
Doing this will show inconsistencies in your thinking and force you to cohere those inconsistencies with your initial goals. Don’t go easy on yourself.
The more weight you can lift, the stronger you are.
There is the old adage about walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, or seeing it from their perspective.
But when I say perspective jumping, I literally mean trying to see the world through their eyes. Try to see what they are looking at, listening to, standing next to. The information you are taking in has a profound impact on what you believe. Try to see everything they are taking in at one point.
This will help you understand their viewpoint.
This is my favorite technique. Simply think about the same problem in different contexts.
Depending on what you are doing you may find connections to the problem you are trying to solve. Many answers to important problems I came to find while in the weight room, something seemingly devoid of mental activity.
Just seeing a different part of the world lights up a connection which creates that spark of imagination you need to succeed.
Take Some Time To Relax
Google has revolutionary strategy of letting their employees do whatever they want for 20% of their workday. They are free to do anything as long as it’s ethical. It does not have to be productive in any way towards the company.
Why is this important? Because innovative ideas take mental energy. They take time. And they take passion. Allowing your employees this free time during the workday allows those employees to take a break from the stressful activities of work and let their mind roam free. Doing this allows them to come up with ideas for useful innovations or just to get back the energy to come up with those innovations.
Take some time to relax and have some fun with your thinking. Come up with crazy ideas and try to make them work. You may just find something worth talking about.
Enhancing your thinking boils down to trying to light up connections within your mind. Any technique that “stirs the pot” so to say will have a positive impact on what you are thinking about.
However, these ideas must be put to the test. They must be evaluated with a genuine search for truth. If they pass that test, then they may be worthy of being presented in a meaningful way.
So stir your pot and taste what the soup has to offer. If it’s delicious, please share it with the rest of us. This is how creativity flourishes.