Saturday, June 20, 2015

“Thinking Habit”: Do you Have One?

The mere discipline of FOCUS that is necessary to think profoundly is certainly difficult for many people to achieve.

As humans, we can not Not think! Our mind is always operating either in the foreground, or the background, at conscious, subconscious or super-conscious mode. Since we don't always "feel pain," then thinking, in general, is not necessarily painful. However, we need to distinguish amongst the different types of thinking in order to evaluate the thought processes, also improve thinking qualities such as criticality, profundity, creativity, intelligence, etc. So how do you ingrain the thinking habits?

Thinking, in general, is manifested in ritualistic lifestyle, it is a habit, rather than a preference. Thinking habits are formed even when you were young, and then mastered in adulthood, so if one hasn’t grown up in a “thinking” environment, he/ she should plan to acquire the habit of thinking, like any other positive habit, it takes time, effort and perseverance. Education can instill you knowledge, but can't teach one how to think. If we ask the question with Critical Thinking specifically as the focus, then we might say it is sometimes ‘painful.’ We all agree that part of critical thinking is uncovering assumptions. Depending on what topic we are considering thinking critically about, we all hold many assumptions near and dear to our hearts. As we uncover these assumptions and begin to understand that some of them are not valid, then we may, in fact, experience some emotional pain as we discover our thinking has been flawed, and we are challenged to shift our thinking. This is not easy! Another type of pain that people experience when applying critical thinking, or trying to apply, is that unless we have developed the skills to a point of some comfort and expertise, the mere discipline of FOCUS that is necessary to think profoundly is certainly difficult for many people to achieve.

Make thinking a habit to compare, contrast, connect, create, choose with confidence! The skills associated with critical thinking (exploring a problem from multiple perspectives) seem to trainable--in other words, we can give trainees repeated learning activities to develop the skills. But the mindset to use these skills habitually seems to occur more slowly. In a sense, a leap of faith is needed to believe that the additional effort is beneficial rather than a waste of time. Critical thinking has more to do with how you process information, which is a complex mental activity that encompasses all aspects of one's cognitive styles. And it's also influenced by the personality, style and relationships you have with other people. This comes out in a big way when it comes to critical thinking on teams and groups - where one's own critical thinking ability to understand and evaluate information of all types and draw logical, accurate conclusions is influenced by those around you and the environment.

Building the working environment to encourage “Thinking” is critical in building the culture of innovation: In a corporate setting with dysfunctional management, having quiet time to just think could be uncomfortable for somebody who recognizes the hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance that bad management creates. Situations like this can foster learned helplessness and apathy, scenarios in which people may prefer to avoid introspection if it only increases awareness of the problem. That would cause the chain of other problems such as change inertia, bureaucracy, poor strategy execution, low rate of employee engagement, which leads to mediocre or poor performance as well.

It takes practice, practice, and practice to build a "Thinking Habit": Critical Thinking is a skill that has to be developed through a process, and continuous practices will shape it as a “Thinking Habit. We all take shortcuts, make assumptions, and repeat erroneous generalizations. Therefore, critical thinking is important. Analyzing the possibilities and projected outcomes provides an opportunity to apply critical thinking to the situation, and highlight the tendency for some people to believe that criticizing is the same as critical thinking. It appears that many people who are in the habit of criticizing others, often base their arguments on false premises that are hidden from view. Applying critical thinking tools to their own arguments may cause people to begin to question their own beliefs, which in itself can be a very painful process. Some people find that critical thinking to be painful has to do with both the effort involved and the requirement of self-reflection. Critical thinking involves, among other things, examining your own arguments in an effort to uncover any false premises. In addition to that effort, one would also at times need to admit that a particular underlying belief is incorrect.

Some study shows it takes 21 days to shape a good habit, perhaps it takes much longer to cultivate a “Thinking Habit,” even it causes a headache, but the pain is only temporary, like in physical exercise, it hurts when you are not used to it. We are “What we are thinking of!” When the neurons in the brain start clicking and connecting, the thought is created; the thoughts piled upon the thought form into your mind; and when the mind keeps wondering and growing, it becomes who you are; so your brain is part of your body, but your mind strengthens you as a being...


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