How can we develop our critical thinking abilities?

My answer to How can we develop our critical thinking abilities?

Answer by Yuri Kruman:

Many intriguing explorations in this thread.

Here are a few results-oriented actions that have helped me a great deal to develop my critical thinking ability over the years:

  1. Read widely and constantly. Read far outside of your chosen discipline(s). To find great selections of high-level articles, studies and discussions on many intellectual subjects, visit Arts and Letters Daily, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Browser, etc. Here’s one very good list and here’s another. Also look into The Atlantic, Harper’s, NY Times Magazine, Harvard Business Review, etc. No shortage of intelligent people publishing magazines and books these days. Your job is to read on many subjects and there is no excuse for being unable to find the sharpest thinkers our there.
  2. Work in multiple roles, industries and professions over your career. For some of us, this may happen serendipitously and for others, by design. There are few things as enriching of the mind and help acquire new perspectives on life and people and ideas as working across a spectrum of professions.
  3. Travel widely. There are few things are enriching of one’s understanding of human history, nature, cultures, languages, psychologies, religions, architecture, movement, urban design, transportation systems and the inter-relationship between all of them as one can receive through traveling around the world with an eye and ear to learn and process and teach all of these to someone else.
  4. Take the time to listen more than you speak. When you have the patience to listen to other people, no matter their station in life, age, financial or social status, you can learn a tremendous deal about human nature, history, culture, language, psychology, religion and any number of other disciplines in a way that you never heard before.
  5. Seek practical experience alongside - and in at least equal measure to - theoretical knowledge. It is a sad truth that our education system rarely prepares us for the vicissitudes of life, with all its nasty surprises, turns, setbacks and thumbscrews. Theoretical frameworks that sit in your mind as a result of going to school need to be heavily adjusted for real-world applications, psychology, technology, timing, economic cycle and any number of other “normalizing” factors.
  6. Invest in yourself constantly. Take courses in subjects you never learned. Learn new languages (spoken and coding). Learn new skills. Take internships in things you’ve never done before that interest you.
  7. Learn from everyone. Some people will teach you by the example of their successes (how to do certain things very well). Others will teach you by virtue of their failures (what not to do). Take everything you hear with a grain of salt, since people tend to minimize their failures and maximize their successes in equal measure.
  8. Get out of your various comfort zones. Go to an art gallery in new town. Meet new people through Meetups. Get older people to tell you their life stories, successes and failures, feathers and all.
  9. Invest in experiences, not in material goods. You grow, make connections between phenomena, ideas and disciplines in the most interest and novel ways by engaging with the world and other people, not by acquiring and consuming goods.
  10. Practice moderation in everything, especially moderation. Passion and curiosity will take you much farther in helping you grow as a human, professional and critical thinker than moderation in your 20s. Your moderation will prevent you from a lot of mistakes, waste of time and disappointment in your 30s and later.
  11. Postpone your gratification. The best learnings come your way when you don’t get what you want right away - and yet you stay the course and persevere.
  12. Remain open to being vulnerable with others, especially your loved ones and close friends. Your humanity, curiosity, progress as a human being and remaining childhood all depend on it. These are the traits that you must maintain to remain a child inside your mind and keep always growing as you get older and more set in your ways.

There are other guidelines that have been helpful, but these are the best ones that come to mind.

Now get out there and drop your premises and promises! You will never be the same.

Want to learn more about the Crtitical Thinking Toolset?


How can we develop our critical thinking abilities?