Thought leaders know: Effective thinking is born with the realization that we know much less than we think we do.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” –Aristotle
If we live with the premise we already know everything, what’s the point? A sense of constant curiosity serves as the foundation of critical thinking, and importantly, creates an interesting and healthy life. When one is youthful, eager curiosity is endless. Learning new things and techniques to accomplish tasks excites us.
As we mature, PubMed published research suggests that curiosity in older people is associated with maintaining a healthy aging central nervous system. Research compared and measured the curiosity of 2,100 sixty-eight- to seventy-year-olds. This is the first study to identify a predictive role for curiosity in the longevity of older adults. According to Dr. Todd B. Kashdan, a professor of psychology at George Mason University, one of the most reliable and overlooked keys to happiness is cultivating and exercising our innate sense of curiosity.
Curiosity that is open-minded, truth-seeking, and solution-oriented defines successful critical thinking skills. Webster’s defines critical thinking as “the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you.”
According to Professor Daniel J. Levitin and Nadia Goodman, Clinical Psychologist, we can employ the following to deepen our ability, enhance critical thinking, and inspire curiosity:
Don’t be a follower. All humans are susceptible to behave as humans around us, and believe whatever we are told or read as true fact. Critical thinking involves the act of believing in something only once you have thought it through, compared it to knowledge, and identified the reasons it is compelling.
Examine your biases. When you face a problem, it’s common to view it from only your perspective and to overlook how [others] see it… The goal of critical thinking is to bring those biases to light so they don’t obstruct your decisions… When we articulate our thoughts, we have a better chance to detect distorted thinking.
Consider the implications of your options. Every choice has consequences, and you can improve your decision-making by anticipating what those might be… Approach a problem from many different viewpoints. Imagine yourself as each of the stakeholders, and consider how they might feel and act in response to each option.
Know that doubt, suspicion, and sometimes fear can accompany critical thinking and hinder curiosity. Embracing these emotions can inspire further investigation and yield an understanding more closely resembling the actual truth.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious!” –Albert Einstein
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