Habits of Critical Thinkers

You can apply critical thinking to every part of your life—from grocery shopping to eating healthier. Critical thinking is a gyrosphere of brain activity (listed below), all working toward the best solution to a problem, challenge or opportunity. For some, it all comes naturally. For others, not so much. However, you can train your brain to juggle some of these subconsciously.

Critical thinking is actually intentional thinking. Giving dedicated brainpower to a thought or situation. We give so little thought to any one thing throughout the day—mental cruise control. Turn it off.

Here’s an exercise to help you get started. Think about debt (is it a good thing?) and work through each item below, in no particular order. Maybe start with Reflection and then Contextual Perspective to get the ball rolling. Obviously, some of these don’t fit exactly but I’m Confident you can be Flexible. <–See what I did there? 🙂

Assurance of one’s reasoning abilities

Contextual Perspective
Consideration of the whole situation, including relationships, background, and environment, relevant to some happening

Intellectual inventiveness used to generate, discover, or restructure ideas, imagining alternatives

Capacities to adapt, accommodate, modify, or change thoughts, ideas, and behaviors

An eagerness to know by seeking knowledge and understanding through observation and thoughtful questioning in order to explore possibilities and alternatives

Intellectual Integrity
Process of seeking the truth through sincere, honest means, even if the results are contrary to one’s assumptions and beliefs

Insightful sense of knowing without conscious use of reason — your gut feeling

A viewpoint characterized by being receptive to divergent views and sensitive to one’s biases

Pursuit of a course with determination to overcome obstacles

Contemplation of a subject, especially one’s assumptions and thinking, for the purposes of deeper understanding and self-evaluation

Adapted from R. W. Paul, Critical Thinking (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Foundation for Critical Thinking, 1992).


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