How can one become a better thinker?

Reach for specificity. Our words (except for proper names) are abstractions, but we can avoid overuse of the abstract and add clarity to our ideas by giving importance to context.

Asking someone to speak for his race, ethnicity, sex or what have you, is an example of insufficient specificity. It's better to give someone credit for his/her individuality.

We all have our big picture of what we consider reality, and the more we can tie our ideas together with particulars the better. And we need to look at things in context rather than panoramically. (BS artists tend toward the panoramic. )

Sometimes

Reach for specificity. Our words (except for proper names) are abstractions, but we can avoid overuse of the abstract and add clarity to our ideas by giving importance to context.

Asking someone to speak for his race, ethnicity, sex or what have you, is an example of insufficient specificity. It's better to give someone credit for his/her individuality.

We all have our big picture of what we consider reality, and the more we can tie our ideas together with particulars the better. And we need to look at things in context rather than panoramically. (BS artists tend toward the panoramic. )

Sometimes our ideas are overly simplistic. One example of this is the assertion that "guns don't kill" — a pompous generalization suggesting that we might be thinking that firearms trigger themselves and nothing more need be discussed.

There were those who blamed Adam Lanza's murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School on his suffering from Asperger's syndrome, but others with Asperger's syndrome had not engaged in shooting rampages. We needed to look for other influences that were working on Lanza.

Some of us trudge ahead, our minds closed, never measuring our ideas against rival ideas or measuring new circumstances. Failing the new circumstances problem has come with generals fighting the last war.

The mental pictures we create are most clear without metaphors or analogies. Thucydides did the world a favor when for clarity he began writing history without poetry.

And clarity, of course, is served when we don't confuse coincidence with causation. And clarity is served when we don't confuse anecdote with evidence.

Here are some practices that help me:

1. I try to follow my ideas to their axiomatic bases. I know when I've reached the foundation of an idea when I get to "just because," "I simply believe it's true," "I just feel it's true," "I live under the assumption that it's true" or "I don't know." If I can logically work back up from that axiom (or a set of axioms) to my idea, then I'm being as rational as a human can be.

For instance: "That's my cat."

What do I mean by "my"? I mean that I own the cat, but in what sense do I own it? Perhaps I immediately get to "I don't know" or "I just feel as if I do.

Here are some practices that help me:

1. I try to follow my ideas to their axiomatic bases. I know when I've reached the foundation of an idea when I get to "just because," "I simply believe it's true," "I just feel it's true," "I live under the assumption that it's true" or "I don't know." If I can logically work back up from that axiom (or a set of axioms) to my idea, then I'm being as rational as a human can be.

For instance: "That's my cat."

What do I mean by "my"? I mean that I own the cat, but in what sense do I own it? Perhaps I immediately get to "I don't know" or "I just feel as if I do." Then I can say, "I feel as if I own my cat, but I can't really explain what that means or why I feel that way." That's perfectly rational. It may not be explanatory, and it may be dissatisfying, but it's not irrational.

Or, perhaps I can say, "I'm using the word 'own' to mean that the cat lives with me, I take responsibility for its well being, I would try to stop someone else from taking it away from me, and I feel I have the right to do so."

Why do I feel I have the right? Maybe, again, I don't know or that's just the way I feel. Or maybe I can go down another level: "Because I was brought up with the idea of ownership. All my life, everyone around me has trained me to think of objects (and pretty much everything except other people) as having no owner, being owned by me, or being owned by someone else. When I was a child, I was punished if I took something that I and other people thought of as being owned by someone else, and I was also brought up to feel a sense of injustice if someone took something that I felt I owned. The legal and moral systems I live under assume this to be true."

Why was I brought up that way? Why does such a legal system exist? Etc. I just need to keep following these questions until I get to "I don't know" or "I simply assume it to be true."

In a perfect argument between two people--a logical argument, not an angry argument--they dig towards axioms together. If they get all the way to the bottom level and find they disagree, there's little they can do. An axiom by its nature can't be proven. But they'll be crystal clear on the locus of their disagreement. If they agree on axioms, then the disagreement must be further up, and it's probably an error in logic on one or both of their parts. At least one of them is not drawing a conclusion from its premises.

We often have to think quickly, so it's impossible to always (or even usually) delve down to axioms. But in quiet moments we can pause to do it, especially when we find ourselves making the same arguments (or espousing the same beliefs) over and over. How many of your core beliefs have you examined this way?

Sometimes, I pick one of my paragraphs at random and circle or boldface the unexamined claims in it. As rational as I think I am, there are usually quite a few:

"We often have to think quickly, so it's impossible to always (or even usually) delve down to axioms. But in quiet moments we can pause to do it, especially when we find ourselves making the same arguments (or espousing the same beliefs) over and over. How many of your core beliefs have you examined this way? "

What makes me think that we "often have to think quickly"? It seems obvious that we do, but can I support this with any sort of evidence? Is it true for all people? Is it more true in some situations than others? What sort of situations? What exactly do I mean by "quickly"? Quickly compared to what?

Can we pause to do it? Do we have volitional control over our pauses? And can we "especially" pause when we find ourselves repeating arguments, or is it harder to pause at times like that? What do I mean by "we." Am I just talking about myself? Lots of people? People who have been educated in a certain way? All people?

If you want to think rationally, it's really helpful to, when you can, unpack the assumptions behind your claims, but if you're new to this practice, you'll hit "I don't know" quickly and often. You'll hate it, because--like most people who are rationalists--you want to believe you have logical reasons for all your ideas. This hatred will make you want to stop digging. But keep at it, and your digging skills will get better over time. Step one is admitting you don't know when you don't know, even if that's most of the time.

Be especially skeptical of stock phrases. The "rational club" has lots of these, such as "I just believe in one less god than you do" and "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." I'm not saying these phrases are wrong (or right). I'm saying they can easily become ossified in your mind, shutting off all further thought on the matter. What, by the way does "extraordinary evidence" mean? How does it differ from "ordinary evidence"? What is the metric for deciding if a claim is extraordinary or not? You may have good answers for those questions or you may be just belching out those phrases without giving them much though.

Next time you want to tell someone that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, try, as an exercise, making the same point with different words. If you can do it easily, that's a good sign. It probably means you understand what the phrase really means.

2. I created rules to help me discuss things calmly and rationally. As social animals, we often learn and reason through discussions, but they can easily backfire, becoming passive-aggressive (or outright aggressive) and more about maintaining ego than about clear thinking. I have forbidden myself from doing that, and I've compiled a list of phrases and situations that tend to lead me down the wrong path.

I'm far from perfect. I break my own rules. But the rules give me a goal to shoot for and a way to analyze my failures.

Marcus's Rules Of Order For Himself (Which He Invites You To Follow)

3. I keep a failure diary. This is a list of my mistakes with the best analyses I can make of them. I've published parts of it online: Personal Failures

We mostly learn by trial-and-error, which means constantly failing and pushing past failure. Unfortunately, most cultures stigmatize failure and teach us to avoid and deny it. Our attempt to cover up and justify our mistakes often leads to irrationality.

See Marcus Geduld's answer to Why do we get frustrated when learning something?

4. I avoid disputing definitions. Make sure that in any argument you're making to yourself or someone else, you make a clear distinction between labels and the things being labeled. Huge oceans of irrationality occur when people muddle those two categories.

"I mostly like girls, but every once in a while, I feel attraction to another man. Am I straight, gay, or bisexual?"

What you are is a person who mostly likes girls, but every once in a while you feel attraction to a man.

If we call you straight, you will still be a person who mostly likes girls but who is every once in a while attracted to a man;

if we call you gay, you will still be a person who mostly likes girls but who is every once in a while attracted to a man;

and if we call you bisexual, guess what you'll be? Still a person who mostly likes girls but is every once in a while attracted to a man.

Labels change nothing about you.

So what do you mean when you say "Am I straight, gay, or bisexual?" You already know you're a person who is mostly attracted to girls but who is every once in a while attracted to a man. So what exactly are you asking?

It's not necessarily something nonsensical, but you'll help your rationality by being explicit. Do you mean, "Given my tastes, would most people label me as straight, gay, or bisexual?" Are you asking how psychologists will categorize you?

Try to get clear why you care about the label. Is it because you've noticed that gay and bisexual people get treated unfairly, and you want to brace yourself for that? Do you want to know how other people are likely to label you? That's not a foolish concern, but it's different from "Am I ...?" at least when that phrase is taken literally.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to figure out how to live your life--whether to date men, women, or both--your "Am I ...?" question is pointless. Because it won't add any new information to the fact that you're mostly attracted to girls but every once in a while attracted to man.

Pay special attention to claims that involve forms of "to be." He is gay. She doesn't believe in God. They are friends. These phrases aren't necessarily irrational, but they are caves where irrationality often lurks. If you're a materialist, then try to think of the Universe as a place where objects have traits and behaviors. And do what you can to translate your to-be claims into that framework.

An object has parts. An object does stuff. It doesn't make literal sense to say that an object is... Where does it keep its is-ness? "Is" is a shorthand we use to mean "has traits X, Y and Z" or "does things A, B, and C." Rationality is served when you're explicit about the has and the does.

You can cut through a lot of bullshit "philosophy" that way: one brick is not a pile; two bricks isn't a pile; a hundred bricks is a pile. When is the exact transition between not-pile and pile? If you drop "is a pile," this whole muddle vanishes. That space on the floor has three bricks in it; That other space, over there, has 57 bricks in it. That's what actually exists: spaces on the floor containing a certain number of bricks. "Pile" is a human-invented label, and we've never created a robust meaning for it.

When you say that Bob "is" gay, what do you mean? What traits or actions does that imply? That he has the mental trait of feeling attraction towards other men? Does he always have that feeling? Does he feel attraction towards other men when he's asleep, when he's working on a Calculus problem? When he's furious at his boss? Maybe when you say he "is" gay, you mean that at various times, throughout his life, he has felt attraction for other men. And you're predicting he will, at many times in the future, fell that attraction again.

(Again, using "is" can lead to faux paradoxes. Bob only likes men. Mike mostly likes men, but 2% of the time he's attracted to women. Are they both gay? Is just one of them gay? What actually exists is a guy who is only attracted to men and another guy who is mostly attracted to men. The labels we use to refer to them are arbitrary.)

I am not saying you shouldn't use phrases like "Bob is gay." They're both useful and unavoidable. I'm suggesting that, if you want to improve your rationality, you'll see such phrases as shorthands and, when you have the time, try to unpack them. When I say someone is gay, what traits and behaviors am I referring to?

See http://lesswrong.com/lw/np/disputing_definitions/

5. I practice writing and speaking in e-prime. It's a constrained version of English in which you're not allowed to use any form of "to be." I spent a year forcing myself to write in e-prime, and it improved both my thinking and my writing. (I also resolved not to tell anyone I was doing it, which made me labor to make my e-prime prose sound natural.) When you drop "to be," you will discover many pockets of irrationality in your thinking. (When you're unable to drop it, you should ask why.)

(I allowed myself to use "to be" in quotations.)

As with any any new form of writing, e-prime will be hard for you at first, but you'll slowly get better at it and eventually it will feel natural to you.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime

6. I explain or teach my ideas to other people, and if someone doesn't understand all or part of my argument, I assume it's my fault. Perhaps a better way to say this is "take responsibility for it." This habit is so useful to me and such a great indicator of the clarity of my thoughts, I assume that if I can't explain something so that everyone understands it, I don't fully understand it either.

Of course, it's possible the other person is simply stupid or lacks context. But you'll do your rationality great favors if you assume there's some way you can make him understand, and he hasn't understood so far because you've failed to be clear. Even do this (especially do this) if he's the only person out of a hundred who doesn't get your point. Instead of asking, "Why is he so stupid?" ask "What am I doing wrong?"

People who misunderstand are invaluable. They are like missiles which target weaknesses in your arguments. Maybe weaknesses in thinking; maybe weaknesses in explaining. (Which is almost the same thing.)

The more stupid someone's objection seems, the more closely you should examine that part of your argument. It may be a case of genuine stupidity, or it may uncover bias on your part--bias that some aspect of your argument you're sure is clear is actually not.

7. I closely examine my "should" phrases. You may have heard of the chasm between "is" and "ought." You can't prove what someone should or shouldn't do by simply noting facts about the world. For instance, the fact that people suffer from racism does not mean you shouldn't be racist. To conclude that, you have to couple the fact with a value (e.g. suffering is bad.)

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem

I am not urging you to avoid "should." (And I'm certainly not arguing in favor or racism.) I am suggesting that you zoom in on your should phrases. They are nooks where irrationality tends to hide. We all tend to glide from is to ought, and we tend to do it without thinking.

8. I especially avoid should-phrases without the context of a goal. There is nothing anyone simply should do. People should do things if their goal is to be morally correct or because it's practical given a particular goal. Make sure you clarify your context. "Should I use a hammer?" makes no sense. For what? To pound nails, yes. To write with, no.

"You should do your homework."

No, you should do your homework if you want to get good grades in school or if you want your parents to be proud of you.

9. I avoid agentless or passive writing and thinking. They are huge hotbeds of irrationality.

- "Is boring, stable happiness preferable to an interesting but potentially less happy life involving more emotional risk?"

Preferable to whom? Preferable for what? There's no such thing as unpreferableness that just floats around in the universe, disconnected from a person or people. Even if you think the "whom" is obvious, go ahead and state it. You may find a smidgen of irrationality has crept into your thinking.

- "Have we lost all sense of shame?"

Who is "we"? Americans? Young Americans? Young educated Americans? Europeans? World citizens? People in third-world countries? Me and my friends? Me?

Who is doing what to whom?

10. If I'm on a side of some issue (abortion, liberalism vs conservatism, atheism vs theism), I need to figure out what's wrong with my side. Any major debate--one that has involved millions of people for many years--is bound to be complex. But our attraction to binary opposites tends to blind us to irrationality.

I'm not saying be a relativist and or that all options are equally good or valid. I'm saying most good medicines have side effects. They're not simply good with absolutely no downsides.

If you're a liberal, what's wrong with liberalism? Even if it's better than the alternative, what are some bad thing that can happen if we have liberal governments in power? If you're a conservative, what's wrong with conservatism?

Be careful when answering that you don't give a left-handed insult like those people who, when asked about their weaknesses in job interviews, say, "I'm sometimes too diligent for my own good." And make sure you don't just talk about "bad liberals" or "bad conservatives." if you’re a liberal, ask yourself what problems liberalism creates when it’s well practiced? If you’re a conservative, as yourself what problems conservatism creates--regular conservatism—not as practiced by crazy extremists?

If you can't think of an answer or you have very little to say on the subject, maybe that's because your side is simply perfect. But be skeptical. It may also be the case that you're biased and blinded by one of the most powerful forces that affect our species: tribalism.

To me, the first thing to notice about human thinking — via scrutinizing the rare examples of “first class thinking” we can identify — is that we humans are pretty much not genetically equipped for thinking at all!

We are most well set up for learning how to fit into our cultures, and make our way in them, mostly socially. We are a little bit clever, and like other primates are able to cheat in numerous ways, but we very often aren’t smart enough to also take into our minds the consequences of cheating.

We have “lots of ‘coping genes’ but essentially no ‘progress genes’ ” — in fact, it appears t

To me, the first thing to notice about human thinking — via scrutinizing the rare examples of “first class thinking” we can identify — is that we humans are pretty much not genetically equipped for thinking at all!

We are most well set up for learning how to fit into our cultures, and make our way in them, mostly socially. We are a little bit clever, and like other primates are able to cheat in numerous ways, but we very often aren’t smart enough to also take into our minds the consequences of cheating.

We have “lots of ‘coping genes’ but essentially no ‘progress genes’ ” — in fact, it appears that even the idea of progress had to be invented (mostly in the 18th century). The philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead remarked that “The great invention of the 19th century was Invention itself” (suddenly everyone was inventing!)

Most of the processes we associate with “good thinking” seem to be inventions, the good ones very rare and initially far apart. Despite the power of these, our thinking was so dim that it took quite a while to realize that one of the things we should be doing is to purposely invent better ways to think, and then figure out how to teach them to children to create much more able adults than we are. (We still do not see much call for this in most public media.)

Einstein came up with a great comment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same levels of thinking that we used to create them”.

This links up starkly with the Dunning-Kruger Effect: that many people are not able to think well enough to see that they are not thinking well enough. There is a very real sense in which all of us have this problem.

A parallel allied concept is sanity, which is usually assessed in a relative normalized manner i.e. “what the majority of people in a culture do, and especially if in accord with the culture’s norms, is considered sane, and that outside these norms is considered not-sane.” But if we look at sanity as “the goodness of the mapping between what’s in a mind and what is actually in the environment in which the mind exists”, then we can see that all human beings have “delusional disorders”, and many of the most dangerous ones are held by much more than a majority of humans! This includes the Dunning-Kruger delusion that they are “generally thinking well”.

Another part of considering what good thinking might be about is to notice that ignorance very often resembles stupidity. Imagine being born with twice Leonardo’s IQ but in 10,000 BCE!

And Leonardo, supersmart as he was, was not smart enough to invent any useful engines for any of his fantasy vehicles. He was in the wrong century — there was not enough knowledge for him to use and reshape with his intellect.

Similarly, it took geniuses to invent calculus but many much less smart people can learn it and become more powerful thinkers about many kinds of change than the geniuses of antiquity.

We can then reflect what someone nowhere near Leonardo or Newton — Henry Ford — was able to do. Why? Because of the vast change in context — how to look at and think about the world around us — for which Newton was the main catalyst and cause.

I think of this as “Knowledge is Silver, Context is Gold, IQ is often a Lead Weight!

Or: “Context is worth 80 IQ Points!

This is especially true if the Knowledge is (a) drawn from the strongest Contexts, (b) some of the Knowledge is the knowledge of Contexts (or Points of View, or Perspectives, etc.), and (c) some of the knowledge is what has been learned about how to think much better than our genetic minds can by themselves.

Almost 400 years ago Francis Bacon wrote about the “four Idols” that humans worship which confuse our attempts to think. In modern vernacular, we have “bad brains/minds” from our genetics, our cultures, our languages, and our academics. He called for a “new science” to be invented that would mitigate these as much as possible (much of what he called “new science” is what we call “Science”). One part of this is the idea that we can find and invent “methods and tools” which when carefully learned and used can help us think much better than our traditional processes did.

A classic study of human thinking problems — both in general and associated with language use — is “Science and Sanity” by Alfred Korzybski.

The field of Cognitive Psychology — of George Miller, Jerome Bruner, etc. — started to measure many limits to human thinking, for example that we can only deal with a very small number of things at once, and for something new we are almost blind, deaf, and dumb because we don’t yet have mental organizers for what we have to deal with. (This is called “Cognitive Load”.)

A more modern identification of human mental “noises, glitches, and barriers” is part of the work of Kahneman and Tversky — see Kahneman’s book “Thinking: Fast and Slow” — which includes how humans form valuations — the field of “Behavioral Economics” — and also unearthing the many “Cognitive Biases” we routinely exhibit. The Wikipedia article lists more than 100 that have been found so far — but readers will find it easy to identify and add more. For example, not included in the K&T list are (a) we confuse both our perceptions with “reality” and “normal” with “reality”, and (b) we often will generalize a good enough idea and then make dogma (and even religions) from it.

So we can certainly make a start on learning how to think better by (a) identifying existing barriers of all kinds, and then to find and invent heuristic workarounds that will help eliminate noise and increase clarity, and (b) from the other direction, to identify the strongest known ways to think clearly — for example, the methods and tools of science — and learn them so fluently that they will be at least as automatic as our less able genetic reactions.

Just a note here on this kind of learning. If you remember the stages you went through to learn to drive a car, the most striking were (a) the beginning stages that involved over-controlling, tunnel vision, not being able to hear the person trying to help, not being able to see stop signs and children, not knowing what gear one is in, etc. and (b) a few months later being able to steer the car, listen and talk to the other person, automatically be aware of stop signs and road conditions, etc. (This is a general learning progression for most things.)

What is happening during the learning is that a lot of the initial effort had to be done with your cognitively smart, but slow part of your brain, and this is easily overloaded. The learning starts to build little specialists — I call them “brainlets” — that offload much of the work to faster, less smart, but more routinized parts of the brain. This leads to both skills, and a certain resistance to learning different ways to do things.

Quite a bit of learning to think better is accomplished by doing the various processes that will build “brainlets” for helping to think. Some of them will damp down many of our genetic responses, and some of them will provide a variety of points of view, analogies, etc., and a whole host of heuristics to help.

Seymour Papert used to say “You can’t think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something”. In other words, it will really help to have important issues and ideas, and things to learn about that require much better thinking. Then, the many things that are known about thinking, how poorly we are generally at it, and what we’ve learned about doing it better, can be brought to bear.

When you think through a problem, your thought process is naturally colored by biases, such as your point of view and your assumptions about the situation. Each of those biases affects your reasoning. If you let your biases drive your thought process and overlook blind spots in your logic.

1. Proper Breathing Exercises

Breathing from your stomach is the best way to breath. However, many people still have no idea of how this breathing mode is practiced. Stomach breathing helps in activating the functionality of your brain. Not only this, but it also improves your memory and thinking skills.

2. Pro

When you think through a problem, your thought process is naturally colored by biases, such as your point of view and your assumptions about the situation. Each of those biases affects your reasoning. If you let your biases drive your thought process and overlook blind spots in your logic.

1. Proper Breathing Exercises

Breathing from your stomach is the best way to breath. However, many people still have no idea of how this breathing mode is practiced. Stomach breathing helps in activating the functionality of your brain. Not only this, but it also improves your memory and thinking skills.

2. Proper Sleep and Power Naps

While proper sleep is the best way to keep your brain active, power naps can be your secret pill. Power naps will reactive your brain and will improve your brain’s functioning and thinking skills.

3. Meditation

Meditation is an ideal way to relieve stress, achieve a great mental workout and bring various different health benefits. Not only this, but meditation is also known for enhancing creativity and improving thinking skills. Many people are not comfortable with the idea of meditation as it sounds confusing and challenging to learn. Luckily, there are various types of meditations available while some of them are dedicated to beginners. Meditation has various benefits to well being and brain power and by involving into this act you can do your body and mind a great favor.

4. Physical Exercise

The benefits of physical exercise are not unknown to anybody. But did you have any idea that physical exercise can sharpen thinking skills and increase IQ levels.

5. Play Games

Games that involve some thinking are a great idea. A game that involves the usage of the brain helps in stimulating its performance and also helps in relieving stress and sharpens thinking skills. Mind games use the muscles of the brain which improves thinking skills. Look for these games online and help your mind relieve stress.

6. Improve Your Diet

A nutritious and balance diet is excellent for your physical being and also helps your brain function. Moreover, a nutritiously balanced diet relieves stress and improves thinking skills effortlessly.

7. Read Good Books

Reading books not only helps you escape from anxiety and stress, but also flexes the muscles of your brain. Look for good books that provide you enriching and unique experience or teach you something new. This will help you improve your mental skills and relieve stress with time. Reading nice books can also provide conversational topics to you that you can share in your social gatherings or workplace.

Ya know that stuff you hate thinking about? The emotional stuff, the God and death stuff, the why people are like they are stuff? The what’s gonna happen to me stuff… all those things that everyone would rather not think about and deal with later.

Don’t deal with them later. Think about them.

But don’t think about them blindly. Think about them strategically.

First clear your mind of self deceptive thinking by looking into Cognitive Distortion (the psychologist term for “playing yourself”). Believe if or not, there are guides for holding honest, critical self conversations. First get your self co

Ya know that stuff you hate thinking about? The emotional stuff, the God and death stuff, the why people are like they are stuff? The what’s gonna happen to me stuff… all those things that everyone would rather not think about and deal with later.

Don’t deal with them later. Think about them.

But don’t think about them blindly. Think about them strategically.

First clear your mind of self deceptive thinking by looking into Cognitive Distortion (the psychologist term for “playing yourself”). Believe if or not, there are guides for holding honest, critical self conversations. First get your self conversation honest, and then attack all that stuff you’ve been afraid to deal with. You’ll be surprised because much of the emotional power that made these issues difficult are tamed. You can see them different, as things that can be changed.

Now you can actually look and see what were the elements in play that supported and caused the events in your and your families lives that created the situations you live today. Each one has some underlying trigger that you can learn about and support it being an advantage or not being a pitfall again.

Think about the causes for all the reasons why and continued duties of all the people around you, and what, if anything could be done to change things. With your ability to see, you can study, think, talk with those around you and learn.

Everyone has issues. As you address you own, you can support the same in others. This type of strategic thinking about your situation, how it is interconnected with everyone around you, and perceiving how to aid and support to better the lives of everyone is the type of thinking everyone should cultivate.

It is learning to think without apathy, perhaps one of the more difficult emotions to overcome.

Our brain is structured in a way to Keep receiving various data and analysing it and storing it, then when we need think about output results we get back to our storage area to pick the required data.

So our actions are made in both ways, we’re the master to get in & out of our brain, in this regard, we really need to maintain a certain quality level of the data analysed and stored in our brains, and in order to improve the way we think we should really dispatch a specific data to send to our brain through our means of reception (eyes, ears, …) this is the first thing that we should keep eye on

Our brain is structured in a way to Keep receiving various data and analysing it and storing it, then when we need think about output results we get back to our storage area to pick the required data.

So our actions are made in both ways, we’re the master to get in & out of our brain, in this regard, we really need to maintain a certain quality level of the data analysed and stored in our brains, and in order to improve the way we think we should really dispatch a specific data to send to our brain through our means of reception (eyes, ears, …) this is the first thing that we should keep eye on.

  • Studies and Theoretical school programs are not the main data resources to develop ourselves, these are the basic data that we receive at our primary school that keep the base solid but it’s not enough to keep us upgrading (it’s never too late for us as grown ups to do so and change this fact but keep this in mind, DO NOT KEEP YOUR CHILDS FOCUS on only School Programs), as our first years of learning, are the best period where we build the way of thinking.
  • Life experience is one of the most important things that we need to get, don’t waste a single moment where you can experience a new thing however hard is it, life experiences are the most rememberable moments in our life so don’t hesitate to go for new challenging moments in your life.
  • News, Magazines are Good Resources to get your ideas richer and have new concepts of thinking but bear in mind that the level of your reading will certainly affects your brain health, and it will definitely affect the way you think. do not read anything pick the news fields that are important to your personal life and to the domain you act in.

General culture is good thing to know but don’t waste your time reading stars and actors flash news, you rather focus on important influencers, politicians, inventors … and so on.

  • Books and novels are the best and powerful source of considerable data, the most powerful people in this world read books and a loot of books.
  • documentaries even that you should pick the best of them but it’s hard to define which are true facts and which are build up fake stories and infos. ( faking for commercial use )
  • Make new friends, talk to people even that you don’t know them, sometimes you may find helpful talks through unknown people, get to know them, free yourself of the idea that people may find it weird, everyone of us is weird cause no one if a match to the other, so everyone is a weird to the other cause we do not think and act in the same way.
  • there’s another thing that you may find funny, but talking to little kids may considerably change your way of thinking, it’s magic but it’s true. those little babies are angels.

The way we think is the way we analyse the data received from above resources, so be careful about What you Receive, What you Hear and What you See, if you read positive you’ll think positive and you’ll act positive, if you hear wise talks, you’ll think wise, and you act wise, and if you see happy and smile moments, you’ll think about happiness and you’ll receive same.

Also the second part of our actions is the search stage inside the storage area to get solutions and results of analysed and stored data, at this stage it’s hard to pick the 100 % right solutions as in this point you’ve already stored these results and made them as your beliefs, so it’s hard to change and analyse them again, it’s possible but very hard, it’s better to sort at the beginning of the data receiving process.

This is more than can be answered in a Quora answer. But I will give a few quick bullet points and then some references and resources.

  • Recognize that the biggest barrier to thinking properly is the desire to be right. If you start off with the answer and then go searching for evidence, you are doing it backwards. So the #1 thing you can do to think better is be willing to change your mind any time the evidence calls for it. It can be hard to do, but just remember that your core identity isn’t “believing idea X” and you should be able to handle it. It also helps to try arguing both sides (for an

This is more than can be answered in a Quora answer. But I will give a few quick bullet points and then some references and resources.

  • Recognize that the biggest barrier to thinking properly is the desire to be right. If you start off with the answer and then go searching for evidence, you are doing it backwards. So the #1 thing you can do to think better is be willing to change your mind any time the evidence calls for it. It can be hard to do, but just remember that your core identity isn’t “believing idea X” and you should be able to handle it. It also helps to try arguing both sides (for and against) an idea. We tend to only see the evidence we are looking for, so we have to intentionally look for the stuff that disproves our positions.
  • Don’t think too fast. Humans are cognitively lazy by nature. Take that into account when you are thinking and you will be able to spot when you make unfounded assumptions, ignore the desire to spout off something in real-time during a debate that you haven’t thought through, and avoid buying into ideological platforms that you haven’t analyzed in deteail yourself (you lazy bum).
  • Learn statistics and probability! Many errors are made because people use naive “common sense” mental models when thinking about forecasting. The answer to “what would happen if” questions is almost never a “definitely X”. You should think in degrees of probability instead. Humans forecast things all the time in daily life. Any prediction about the future is a forecast. If you are like most people, when you make these forecasts, you ascribe way too much certainty. It doesn’t seem like that is such a big problem, but then those forecasts inform other forecasts and pretty soon you are talking about metaphorical castles in the air with no tether to reality.

Now, some reading recommendations:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Anything written by Keith Stanovich
  • https://www.lesswrong.com/rationality (you can skip the quantum mechanics stuff if you aren’t interested, but the rest of it is good)
  • RationalWiki for examples of fallacies used in real life with explanations of where the authors went wrong.
  • The entire field of psychology of reasoning can benefit you. Read up on the topic if you can.

I' follow a simple process that helps me balance my day and stay in the moment more often. 5–10 min meditation in the morning (setting your intention to whatever you wish to work on,overcome/achieve for the day) I like for the last year or so settong mine intention of observing without judgement, life unfold. To stay open to potentially broader or new/better understanding of everything including what i know/understand already ….incl. everyday situations and or to find the beautiful fundamental in everything .

it can be anything really, then

I handle and finish my tasks for the day that can be do

I' follow a simple process that helps me balance my day and stay in the moment more often. 5–10 min meditation in the morning (setting your intention to whatever you wish to work on,overcome/achieve for the day) I like for the last year or so settong mine intention of observing without judgement, life unfold. To stay open to potentially broader or new/better understanding of everything including what i know/understand already ….incl. everyday situations and or to find the beautiful fundamental in everything .

it can be anything really, then

I handle and finish my tasks for the day that can be done immediately, first and finish them so that the tasks and decisions that require more thought research etc. Can be given time.

Prioritising and being organised for me is a must, even though Im lucky enough to have more time than most professional single parents, with a side husstle or two, time is valuable resource that can be optimized.

Different methods work for different people.

Then there are considerations of working towards becoming your ideal you, living creating and co creating your ideal life and growing. Whatever positive methods it takes to silence the inner critic, pessimist, worrywart, neigsayer taskmaster, CEO and scheduler….master slave driver and tormentor of note.

Creating no negative karma and doing no harm to yourself or anything/anyone intentionally,

The super thinker is a creative state, or space. Creativity,responsibility and practicality are not mutually exclusive.

A good analogy. Watering the ground and sunshine, facilitate the opening of a flower. Forcing the petals apart is futile, a waste of time and resourses.

Believing you are capable of being a super thinker opens up new potential thought processes, as well, in your qiest to find your way of achieving this but very important is to pay attention to what pops up, thought wise, during the course of your day.

Just like we are guided towards or

/attracted to people, places, information sources etc. Often we do not even pay attention to the inner dialogue happening all the time neither do we consciously realise, what could be a valuable resource

To what we want (to become and achieve and how to get there or get started,)

Ask and Listen to your inner voice then investigate and discern between fiction and truth.

  1. Silence is golden.
  2. Keep peace of mind, take decisions, keeping in view , the circumstances or results or life , do not go as what you plan or dream.
  3. Preparing for delays, failures, make you a better person and more patient on life's realities.
  4. Keep your options open on relations, either with family or friends. They may react differently than what you had in mind. Be prepared to accept changes.
  5. Life is a compromise, but trying to maintain good relations, it can be happy.
  6. If you want alternative to Yoga and meditation, reading Bhagavadgita may be easiest and getting answers in short time.
  7. Bhagavadgita
  1. Silence is golden.
  2. Keep peace of mind, take decisions, keeping in view , the circumstances or results or life , do not go as what you plan or dream.
  3. Preparing for delays, failures, make you a better person and more patient on life's realities.
  4. Keep your options open on relations, either with family or friends. They may react differently than what you had in mind. Be prepared to accept changes.
  5. Life is a compromise, but trying to maintain good relations, it can be happy.
  6. If you want alternative to Yoga and meditation, reading Bhagavadgita may be easiest and getting answers in short time.
  7. Bhagavadgita gives various alternatives to achieve concentration or to reach the almighty.
  8. Each chapter gives explanation on Sankhya, Jnana, Bhakti , Karma marga. Broadly yoga is understood as physical exercises.
  9. Any marga is to tranquil the mind, to arrest thoughts inconveniencing the process of work/thinking itself. Karma marga is to fulfill the work, without getting attached to the result. (Not worried over failure/delays, attached only if succeeded)
  10. Books on positive thinking by Dale Carnegie, Peter s Drucker, books by Sri Abdul Kalam (like Reignite), speeches of prof Mahadevan, IIMB, Bangalore in various subjects (practical Vedanta, MBA course based on Bhagavadgita) help you attain the target that you may have in mind.
  11. Going to speeches by ahyathmik guru, a temple, visit to ashram for destitutes, children without parents, senior citizens and offer help to them also enlighten you on thinking about others problems (which are many times difficult than what you normally face).
  12. There are many ways to find peace, like participating in activities of Sri Rama Krishna mission, donating some amount, reading their books etc.
  13. People also spend time on Sundays and holidays in work related to NGOs or participate in activities of Harekrishna (Iskon) themes.
  14. Any marga, trying to find smile in the face of to your family members, parents, neighbours and expanding the horizon to your nearby people, society at large is that matters most. If people around you are happy, you also feel more happy than, thinking that enjoyment is locked somewhere and making an endless search!
  15. Sri Ramana Maharshi quote on understanding self:—”Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world “

Do you really want to know?

Well, first, why do you want to become a better thinker?

What would being a better thinker allow you to accomplish?

What have you actually sat down and spent time trying to think about?

-see what I'm doing here? ..I'm asking you questions. Because questions make you think.

When someone asks you a question, it is only natural to think of a response.

Thinking, like with most things, is improved by the process of doing it.

Therefore, if you want to become a better thinker, just start talking to people. Conversate. Ask questions that make them ask questions.

What's even easier?

Do you really want to know?

Well, first, why do you want to become a better thinker?

What would being a better thinker allow you to accomplish?

What have you actually sat down and spent time trying to think about?

-see what I'm doing here? ..I'm asking you questions. Because questions make you think.

When someone asks you a question, it is only natural to think of a response.

Thinking, like with most things, is improved by the process of doing it.

Therefore, if you want to become a better thinker, just start talking to people. Conversate. Ask questions that make them ask questions.

What's even easier? Asking yourself questions. You can talk to yourself literally any time you want to.

So, you should. Often.

Ask yourself, both inside your head and out loud, about anything you don't understand..

If you spend a long enough time asking yourself about something you don't believe you understand, you'll be surprised to find out that you probably have a better understanding about it than what you thought you did.

Writing your thoughts is the key to better thinking.

Cognitive scientists believe that working memory is one of the major components of intelligence. Working memory is like the RAM for your mind. It consists of all the things you’re keeping in mind simultaneously.

While writing may not literally increase your working memory, many cognitive scientists now believe that such external representations may form important parts of our cognition. This externalized cognition extends the space of thinking and literally makes us smarter, even if our brains are just the same as before.

Just as writing helps

Writing your thoughts is the key to better thinking.

Cognitive scientists believe that working memory is one of the major components of intelligence. Working memory is like the RAM for your mind. It consists of all the things you’re keeping in mind simultaneously.

While writing may not literally increase your working memory, many cognitive scientists now believe that such external representations may form important parts of our cognition. This externalized cognition extends the space of thinking and literally makes us smarter, even if our brains are just the same as before.

Just as writing helps with numerical and mnemonic tasks, it can help you think more clearly about your life problems as well.

First, by jotting down your thoughts on paper, you can hold more ideas than you could in your limited working memory. This means you can more easily work through thoughts that have several parts which are difficult to keep in mind simultaneously.

Second, writing allows editing. If I write down an idea, then later notice a contradiction further down the page, I can go back and edit it. Editing mentally quickly becomes exhausting as, like in the n-back task, the old information interferes with the new.

Third, writing allows for longer thoughts. Have you ever had a conversation where, as you were listening, you forgot the point you were eager to make? Ideas bubble up and pop all the time in our minds, it’s only with writing that you can capture it.

How to Start Thinking Better

There’s a few ways you can improving your thinking with writing:

1. Have a written meeting, before your face-to-face one.

Draft up an email with your

doesn’t matter whether you send the email or not. Having thought through your ideas clearly, you’ll be able to communicate them intelligently when the meeting comes.

2. Vexing problems should start with paper and pen.

Many problems which feel overwhelming are suddenly simplified once you write them down.

3. Confusions are cleared up by writing down explanations.

This technique boils down to using writing to make it easier to understand hard problems in math, science and other subjects.

Often, simply the act of writing down an explanation will resolve confusions. This is because the different components of the ideas are too large and numerous to stitch together into a completed understanding. Writing it down solves this capacity constraint and allows you to piece together a completed idea.

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