How to Think Critically
and Problem Solve
The quote by Jean De La Bruyere: "Life
a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think,"
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:
- Rely on reason rather than emotion
- Evaluate a broad range of viewpoints and
- 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 or problem-solve
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Take action. Implement your solution. Every problem
has a solution; even if it is 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
Every problem we are able to resolve increases self-confidence
and self-worth. Thinking critically not only helps us handle
future challenges more skillfully, it also broadens our life
experience and helps us gain perspective.
Critical Thinking or To Reason
How to Think for Yourself
10 Ways to Dramatically Improve Brain
Your Brainpower with Classics