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Learning to Think


Genuine critical thought is challenging, rewarding, and not something most of us simply do. There are actually a ton of problems that can be solved by spending time thinking. First: what’s the difference between thinking, and thinking critically? It’s the effort in analyzing AND considering. In normal thought, we have inputs from the environment and we usually react without a ton of forethought. That’s okay and is a really efficient way to not get bogged down by every micro decision we need to make in a day. The flip side is this type of thinking doesn’t do as well when we try and solve complex problems or answer the questions we ask ourselves such as:

  • How has my past affected my behaviour now;

  • Can I be okay with my past to move forward and dream big;

  • What do I want to spend my time doing (career and personal);

  • What do I want to do, and Who do I want to do it with;

  • What makes me happy;

  • What am I okay sacrificing for bigger things?

In my experience, these questions seem normal to ask ourselves, but very few actually put effort into answering them. If you’ve never thought about them, that’s great because now you’re aware you can. It’s noteworthy that I mentioned earlier both effort and consideration are required, yet recently I only mentioned effort. Consideration happens along the journey, when we think to ourselves, “woah, I’ve never thought about that before” and being accepting and okay with that realization to move forward with the thinking. You can start to feel your thinking critically when you can track mental conversations and remember where you left off, when you feel you can answer some of the questions listed above (trust me, that is not an exhaustive list), and when you start to feel more self-centred. Along the bath, it’s likely anxiety or stress will increase first as you realize it’s not as easy as it might seem, or as you stretch your capacity to track conversations.


To start practicing it might help to sit somewhere comfortable, calm, or peaceful (just one or two of these seem to work), and close your eyes. Music helps. Then start the conversation - “What do I want out of life?” The process usually starts with dreaming big and in the future - not one or two years but 30 to 50, then working backwards to slowly figure out how you can get there. It’s okay to accept things you cannot control as you go. These conversations start and end with you. Think to see how they can provide direction and then you can go out and decide whether to take action on them or not.


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