The self-help industry has always played an important role for those looking to make a positive change in their life.
Positive thinking, overcoming obstacles, adversity, how to get what you want, and happiness are all topics that people love reading about.
These are all important when it comes to being the best we can be, but there’s another topic that doesn’t get much attention that has the ability to catapult you to the next level: critical thinking.
Critical thinking can be defined in many different ways, but I prefer to say it’s using logic devoid of emotion when it comes to making any decision.
Critical thinking, at its core, is being able to take any issue, even one that is close to you personally, and remove all the emotion from the equation to observe the facts objectively.
If done right, critical thinking is an extremely powerful tool that can make you better in your professional and personal life.
There are a number of ways to strengthen your critical thinking skills.
How To Improve Your Critical Thinking
1. Understand the difference between logic and emotion
Logic and emotion both play an important role in our lives. The problem is, most people don’t know when to use logic and when to use emotion.
Logic is great for planning and decision making, but weak for motivation. Trying to inspire an emotional creature by appealing to their sense of logic is amateur at best and stupid at worst.
An emotional motivator could be a nice car, a big house, or even money. Some people create a vision board of their emotional motivators to keep them focused on the goal. The person trying to lose weight and get fit uses photos of really fit people to keep him motivated, for example.
That same person trying to lose weight would use logic when it comes to deciding what to eat and whether or not to exercise. His emotional side would tell him that pizza and an ice cream sundae sure sound delicious. His logical side would then kick in and rationalize that in order to stick to the diet and get healthy, he needs to adhere to the plan and make good food choices.
Knowing when to turn to logic and when to use emotion can help you in all areas of your life.
When it comes to thoughts, feelings and attitudes, the masses are heavily influenced by external forces, like a pinball being bounced around from bumper to bumper. Their outer world determines their inner world.
Those who have strong critical thinking skills are the opposite. Knowing their thoughts control their feelings, the great ones have adopted the habit of thinking about…what they think about. Psychologists refer to this as “metacognition.”
This championship habit enables someone to take control of his thought process. This makes the champions’ reality directly opposite of the masses, in that the great ones’ inner world determines their outer world. In other words, the results they achieve on the outside are dictated by the thoughts they have on the inside.
3. Suspend your disbelief
Critical thinkers are the most open-minded group of people you will ever meet, which is one of the reasons for their tremendous success.
While most people are convinced they have figured out how the world works, critical thinkers are not so sure and are open to new ways of looking at old problems. In other words, critical thinkers are willing to suspend their disbelief until they evaluate the facts.
While most people are dying from mental stagnation, critical thinkers grow healthier everyday by entertaining thoughts of abundance and keeping their fertile minds open to life and successful living.
Think back to the last time someone approached you with a new idea that you were quick to dismiss, and give it a second chance. Suspend your disbelief, open your mind and give it careful consideration. What have you got to lose?
4. Don’t depend on the approval of others
Most people are so worried about what other people think of them that they miss major opportunities. Critical thinkers know this is conformity at all costs. They prefer to be liked by others, but if not, they know it’s not their problem.
Critical thinkers know their self-image is the foundation of their success. They have credibility with themselves. This self-confidence manifests itself in various forms critical to the way they approach business, life and other people.
Believing in yourself above all else is required to becoming a critical thinker.
5. Be honest with yourself
American culture is inundated by devices or delusion. How many of us are honest with ourselves about our health? How about in the area of money? What about our relationships?
Related: The 7 C’s Of Happy Relationships
The little lies add up in a big way and prevent us from doing anything to change our circumstances.
Take stock of your life. Look at essential areas of your life through the eyes of objective reality and determine where you stand. Look at your health, finances, relationships, career or business, spiritual development, recreational activities, and any other area that’s important to you.
On a scale of one to seven, seven being outstanding and one being lousy, how are you doing? Rate yourself and then create a written plan to improve in the next 90 says. Remember to answer with honesty how things are going, not based on how you wish they were. Those who have strong critical thinking skills always avoid delusion if they want to see results.
Steve Siebold is a former professional athlete and mental toughness coach to Fortune 500 companies, athletes, entrepreneurs and other super achievers. He is author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class.
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