COGITO ERGO SUM

Cogito Ergo Sum. "Since I doubt, I think; since I think I exist"

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of BAT senior managers and asked him a few questions about his successful career and what helped him most. One of key points he stressed was the ability to ask right questions.

It made me think: how often do I ask questions? How often do I exercise a thought "outside of the box"? How often do I dedicate time to "thinking"?

I had to admit – not often enough. I get busy with "to do" lists, executing millions of activities, caught by short and unconnected thoughts, but NOT engaging into a sound and mindful thinking, NOT questioning things around me.

While good thinking pays off in every realm and situation of our lives, poor thinking, in turn, inevitably causes problems, wastes time and energy, engenders frustration and pain.

So, is it possible to become a better thinker? Good news is - it is possible.

Yet to become better at thinking, it requires a special effort and a lot of practice, that initially can be challenging and difficult.

After some research I found some suggestions on how to improve critical thinking.

1. Clarify your thinking – be clear on what you say and what others say

Be on look-out for vague, blurred thinking. Try to figure out the real meanings – exercise summarising in your own words what others say.

- State your points clearly, give examples that connect your thoughts to life experiences.

- Use analogues and metaphors to help people connect your ideas to things they understand



2. Stick to the point

Be on the lookout for fragmented thinking, thinking that leaps about with no logical connections. Ask yourself the following questions:

- "Am I focusing on the main problem? ",

- "Do I have right information to address this task?",

- "What other information can be relevant?"



3. Question Questions

Good thinkers routinely ask questions in order to understand and effectively deal with the world around them. They question the status quo.

- When you don't understand something, question!

- When dealing with a complex problem, formulate the same question in a different way until you find the right form.

- Prepare questions in advance before discussions and presentations

4. Be reasonable

Good thinkers want to change their thinking when they discover better thinking. This requires mindful observation of your thoughts.

- Notice when you are unwilling to listen to someone's reasons, are irritated by the reasons people give you or become defensive during a discussion. It means you became close-minded.

- Once you start noticing that, analyse what was going on before: what was the thinking you tried to hold onto? Can the other point of view represent a better thinking? Why?



5. Engage into a physical exercise

More and more evidence suggests we think and learn better when engaging into a physical exercise. Studies show that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don't. It is still not clear on how exactly it works, however having a post-lunch quick walk can boost your thinking process.



Points offered above represent only a small number of suggestions to become better thinkers.

Please share your views and personal experiences on how you train your brains in comments.



For more information on thinking, have a look at sources below.

Sources:

The Critical Thinking Community - http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/becoming-a-critic-of-your-thinking/478

"Why do I think better after I exercise"? - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-you-think-better-after-walk-exercise/

"Can Exercise make you smarter"? - http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml