Of all the life skills that you must master in order to gain long term success, the ability to think critically is very important. While college and educational systems do emphasize on objective thinking to a degree, not everyone educate their students on the importance of thinking critically.
First, let us go over the definition of critical thinking. To think critically is to take time to analyze, discern, and evaluate the world around you. To be a successful critical thinker, you must be able to reflect on various situations in order to come up with a prudent judgment that is based on not just logic, but common sense as well.
A critical thinker is a person who will gather information from a lot of sources prior to making an important decision. They will make use of all the senses, including visual and written ones, in order to give themselves the best chance to gather critical data.
When you use critical thinking, you are able to solve problems in a manner which allows you to have a reflective overview of what you have done.
Critical thinking is an important life skill because it gives one the chance to think, to consider the data before them when making a decision that could be critical to their livelihood.
Some of the most successful people in history were masters at critical thinking. How else could a man life Albert Einstein be capable of solving complex physics problems if he was not able to think critically about them? The opposite of critical thinking, the way that many people think, is to think based on their emotions, or from what people tell them.
Thinking on the basis of emotions can lead to serious mistake, because when you make decisions based on what others tell you (who will often have their own agendas), you are prone to making mistakes which could end up being very costly. A much more prudent course of action is to take the time to analyze things a great deal and slowly work your way towards finding a solution.
How Critical Thinking Works
The first step in becoming a good critical thinker is to gather lots of information from different sources. To give you an analogy, lets say that you are interested in investing in a particular stock or commodity. You have heard from people that it is a good buy, that it will go up in the future, but you wisely decide to avoid making a decision based only on what these people say, and you choose to think critically on the matter.
Once you have successfully gathered all the data you can which is related to the investment, you will next want to evaluate this data in order to come up with a conclusion that is well defined, one that will either suggest investing in the product, or avoiding the investment altogether.
One of the most important aspects of critical thinking is informal logic. To be a truly great critical thinker, you must avoid allowing your emotions or biases to play a role in the decision making process.
For example, when gathering data, do not just gather data that you "want to see". Instead, gather data which is for and against whatever you’re interested in, as this gives you the ability to see both sides of the argument, a skill which allows you to make the best decision, since it is non-biased.
Critical thinking and problem solving are directly related to each other. A good critical thinker will be able to recognize problems once they become present.
Indeed, the skilled critical thinker is an individual who is a master at solving problems, and their ability to solve problems effectively is a key factor which will allow them to become successful in life. Because critical thinking gives you a great deal of control over your thought process, it allows you to avoid the many mistakes that people make as a result of thinking with their emotions.
Critical thinking allows a person to think more like a machine as opposed to a human, since their thought process is not cluttered with fear, negativity, biases, or other emotions which can impede the decision making process.
How to increase your skills as a critical thinker
To become a critical thinker, you must spend a lot of time thinking about problems and goals that you would like to solve. When you begin setting goals for yourself, you are on the path towards becoming a good critical thinker, and the reason for this is because achieving your goals will require you to surmount problems that you will have to think critically about.
As you solve one problem after another, this will give you the confidence to continue taking on more challenges, which will allow your skills as a critical thinker to develop.