The Art of Critical Thinking

One of the brain's primary functions is to think and compute. However, we’ve learned that although thinking can at times be mindless, becoming aware of healthy and poor brain habits can lead to improved thinking practices.
The Art of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is essentially taught all throughout the duration of one’s academic career. However, now more than ever, the art of critical thinking can help us uncover the truth and solve real world problems. For example, everyone has cognitive biases. These biases prevent us from making sound objective decisions and instead allow us to make biased decisions and irrationally justify afterwards. In order to make brighter decisions, consider adopting critical thinking. Current neurological research shows understanding of how the mind works. One of the brain's primary functions is to think and compute. However, we’ve learned that although thinking can at times be mindless, becoming aware of healthy and poor brain habits can lead to improved thinking practices.

A 4 Step Guide to Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Be Self Aware

In order to redirect inferior thinking behaviors, we have to first understand the way things flow. When it comes to problem solving, many researchers push the hypothesis of a production/judgement way of consciousness. This hypothesis states that part of your brain produces solutions to the problem and the other judges which solutions work best. A good exercise would be to see if you judge too quickly or ignore the need for evidence; these are common behaviors of poor thinkers. Another key habit to understand is your personal experience. When making decisions, our personal biases can derail critical thinking. Make it common practice to digest a decision and ask yourself, “Am I deciding this because of my personal experience of critical thinking?” Understanding your experiences, biases, and emotional triggers allows you to recognize when to add those considerations in or remove from your decisions.

2. Take Advantage of Creativity

According to research by Harold H. Anderson, “Creativity is associated with wholeness, unity, honesty, integrity, personal involvement, enthusiasm, high motivation, and action.” Researchers have linked these characteristics to creative people: dynamic, daring, resourceful, hardworking, and independent. When solving problems, it’s useful to tap into creative solutions. Whether it’s finding new applications for things that already exist, or inventing new products, take advantage of curiosity and imagination to find new solutions. Since there are two phases of thinking--producing and judging, to get creative with thinking, it can be helpful to prolong the judgment phase that produces answers like “this will never work”. If you give a solution more time to come to fruition, you may be taken by surprise.

3. Be A Critic

The role of criticism is not negative. When you apply criticism to your solutions, you are not tearing them down, but making them better. Not every idea is perfect and unscathed, on the other hand, not every idea needs tweaking. Sometimes as problem solvers, we believe our solutions are perfect and foolproof. However, we are letting our emotions and ego get in front of the issue, ultimately practicing limited thinking patterns. When we leave our ego at the door and take a moment to digest our own solutions, only then do we begin to truly think critically.

4. Talk About It

“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.” ― Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading . When it comes to inventions or artistry, once you've finished creating the work at hand, the next and most important part is then presenting that invention. The last step in critical thinking is being able to defend your thoughts and discuss them. Anticipating your audience's objections naturally happens when you become a critical thinker, because you’ve already thought about objections to your own solution anyway. When conducting a formal presentation, it is important to critically think about preparing the speech and practice the delivery. Utilize self awareness and channel the nervous energy into enthusiasm and passion!

When implementing the art of critical thinking it’s important to become aware of your own biases and triggers, then be creative with solutions, criticize those findings, and finally share them with others. Recent research has opened the door for more in-depth understanding on how the mind works and with more education, thinkers can be aware of mediocre behaviors and implement stronger thinking habits.


Kenia is the Visual Producer and Social Media Specialist at Abelian. She holds a versatile  skill set in graphic design, photo & video, and other areas of Digital Media. With diverse experience in the creative space, Kenia’s focus is on creating captivating content that converts.