quote on the right by Jean De La Bruyere may seem a bit radical,
however, according to the premise of cognitive psychology, what you
think is what you feel.
While many people believe that your feelings precede, or are
independent of your thoughts, the truth is that your feelings are
products of your thoughts.
This revelation can be both daunting and liberating.
Daunting because it makes us responsible for our attitudes and
liberating because we have the power to choose our perspective, mood
When we are aware that we can choose and direct our thinking, we
realize that we have the ability to better control the circumstances
of our lives, improve our decision-making
processes and generally live more productive lives.
This in no way suggests that we need downplay the many feelings and
emotions we as humans enjoy, it's a simply a way for us to manage
and balance them with our cognitive abilities.
We are thinking
critically and in a problem solving mindset when we:
Maintain an open
mind to alternative interpretations
Accept new evidence, explanations and findings
Are willing to reassess information
Can put aside personal prejudices and biases
Consider all reasonable possibilities
Avoid hasty judgments
Like any other skill, learning to think critically
takes time, perseverance and practice. Knowing which steps to take and
how to apply them helps us master the process.
Steps to Critical Thinking As It
Relates To Problem Solving:
1. Identify the Problem.
The first task is to determine if a problem exists. Sometimes
when you think this point through, you may come to the conclusion
that there really isn't a problem, just a misunderstanding. If
that's the case, fine. If not, and you determine that there is
indeed a problem, you need to identify exactly what it is. According
to Barry Lubetkin, a New York clinical psychologist, how
systematically someone weighs the pros and cons of a problem and how
clearly the person can define and state it, is also an
indication of highly developed intelligence.
2. Analyze the problem, look at it from different angles.
Once you've determined the problem, analyze it by looking
at it from a variety of perspectives. Is it solvable? Is it real or
perceived? Can you solve it alone or do you need help? Sometimes by
looking at it from many angles you can come up with a resolution
right away. You may also reveal a bias or narrow point of view that
needs to be broadened
3. Brainstorm and come up with a several possible solutions.
Problems can be solved in many ways. Brainstorm a list of
several possible solutions. Put down anything that comes to mind and
then go over the list and narrow it down to the best possibilities.
Having several viable options leads to obtaining the best results.
4. Decide which solution fits the situation best.
Go over your list of possible solutions. Different situations
call for different solutions. Quite often what works in one
situation, may not work in a similar one. Take time to determine
what will work best for the problem at hand. One solution usually
does not fit all.
5. Take action.
Implement your solution. Every problem has a solution; even
if it may be to accept the situation, and move on.Instead of approaching problems and challenges as insurmountable
obstacles, we can view them as opportunities to hone our critical
thinking and problem-solving skills.