5 Strategies to Boost Your Critical Thinking

5 Strategies to Boost Your Critical Thinking
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

If you boost your critical thinking, you’ll have an exceptional and massive constructive “weapon” at hand. In the end, something as simple as applying healthy skepticism along with adequate personal ethics and an open mind can allow us to better face situations in which we’re forced to think as a unit.

Maybe you’ve heard we live in an era called Post-Truth. Exaggeration or not, critical thinking can be somewhat of an essential need. Admitting we’re going through a “truth crisis”, where we often appeal to our emotions as a way to influence our actions, it’s essential that we act on it in the best way possible.

“The mind that opens up to a new idea never returns to its original size.”

-Albert Einstein-

A Cambridge University study published in January of this year emphasized an important idea. It pointed out that, beyond IQ and aspiring to have great intelligence, good critical thinking could improve our lives. 

The authors stated that a person well-trained in this skill is able to make better decisions. Besides, the person stops being vulnerable to public interests or the political arena, being able to solve problems in a more creative, independent, and effective way. We find ourselves, without a doubt, in front of a wonderful psychological resource worth working with. Improving your critical thinking is possible and these strategies can help you do it. 

Woman and critical thinking.

How to boost your critical thinking

Nobody’s born with an innate skill to apply critical thinking to everything that happens in their life. This ability needs practice, learning, and internalization and it transforms based on our needs, personality, and experiences. It’s an ongoing feedback where we’re required to be active, ambitious, and highly motivated.

This is how you can boost your critical thinking.

1. Broaden your perspective, don’t settle for just one option

If someone said right now that the world was going to end tomorrow, probably 60% of the population would look for a bunker to hide in immediately. 20% of the rest would do anything to find an alternative, a strategy to avoid the alleged apocalypse. The other 20% would be skeptical. They would ask: “Is the world really going to end? Who said that?” 

Healthy, smart, and skillful skepticism is without a doubt the first filter for news, opinions, claims, or comments we hear daily.

2. Be proactive, not reactive

Many of us react to life instead of living. We react to problems, difficulties, and challenges without knowing that there are other ways of existing, like being proactive. However, what does being proactive mean?

  • It means not standing still watching things happen around us without our intervention. Make things happen, look for challenges to learn from them by using new resources, set goals, and work towards them every day. 
  • Your critical thinking is that psychological strength that will make it easier for you to act in a more skillful and reflective way. In other words, instead of reacting carelessly or excessively to a difficult or a complex situation, this new focus will help you see it all with a more constructive, centered, adaptive, and even ingenious attitude. Every challenge will be a lesson. 
Female silhouette in color strings.

3. A more ethical thinking

In our society, dichotomous or extreme thinking is all the rage. A thing is either good or bad. People either agree completely with our ideals and our values or they don’t. You are a friend or a foe. That thing is either blue or red… What do we really get from applying these kinds of moral filters? Actually, not much.

If we’re capable of applying a critical thinking in which reflecting and relativizing all these dichotomies is the norm, we’d actually enjoy considering different points of view. Opening up to a whole range of opinions, characteristics, and features enriches us endlessly. 

4. More sense of humor, please

A great sense of humor goes hand in hand with intelligence. Someone that knows how to laugh at themselves, who is capable of finding a light in the darkness, and playing with reality to relativize it and transform it gracefully and originally to make everyone else laugh, has a great gift.

Thus, your critical thinking is also a tool to show your ability to have a more clear perspective of reality, while avoiding frustration, fights with no solutions, or misunderstandings that take us nowhere. 

5. Be aware of your cognitive distortions

Letting our vital focus get stuck in cognitive distortions, such as pessimism, generalization, tagging people frequently, having a polarized focus, or having a selective attention that makes us see only what we want to see limits our critical thinking completely.

We must be aware of these common irrational resources of our mind. We must relativize, expand our vision, and simply remember that just as we’re often critical with those around us, it’s also necessary to be critical with ourselves. 

Boy inside a circle of books.

In conclusion, developing this skill takes time. However, if you really want to fully boost your critical thinking, don’t forget this simple advice: free yourself from your thoughts and boundaries Break the chains, see the world with humble eyes, and be aware of all the things you could learn and all the possibilites out there.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.