Methods of Thinking
Most of us don’t often think about how we think, it’s just too meta for some. When we put some effort into understanding it there are several different ways in which we use our minds to think through a problem or to learn something new. We all use a combination of different methods for thinking. Each of us is better at certain methods than others.
Methods for thinking are actions you do that require practice and focus to master. As you consistently continue to develop these methods your thinking abilities will improve. The best part is that you can use each one of these methods no matter which one you excel at.
All of us already use each of these methods and may not even realize they are methods that can be improved upon. Some of them may be new or something we haven’t done in a while but should start back up to improve our processing power.
This is not an all inclusive list of the various ways that we use our brains. There are many more, but this just highlights some of the most common. Don’t just use this information to find out where you are strongest or the methods that work best for you, also look at the ones where you are the weakest. Figure out why you are weaker in that area and what you can do to improve it. If you are weaker in debating then find someone you can trust and take on an opposing opinion. If meditation is your weak area set aside some time to practice it every day. Don’t let these things define you, use the information to take action and define yourself.
Studying is a focused examination of a subject or topic.
When you study you set a side a time to read, listen, or practice in a particular area. The objective is to learn something or deepen your understanding through a focused time. This allows you to dive deeper into an area and learn more about it.
People have different ways they prefer to learn and therefore different study methods. Auditory learners may prefer to learn through podcasts whereas visual learners want to see a video. Most of us learn from several different ways, to improve your study ability look into the ways that you learn best.
A common mistake people make is they do not time-box their studying. When studying is too open ended it can lead to unfocused time and easy distraction. When you time-box your study time it helps to stay focused on what you are doing.
Meditating is focused time on your own thoughts.
This could be a time of focusing on a particular area or idea. It could also be a time of focus on nothing or on emptying your mind to refresh and rejuvenate. The idea is to set aside a time and usually a space where you can get away from distractions to focus. Find a time when you won’t be disrupted. Go to a place where there aren’t many distractions.
Starting out is a lot easier than most people expect. Get into a comfortable position and maybe turn on some instrumental music. Relax your body and just let your thoughts slip away. As they slide focus on the area you are meditating or on the emptiness. Unfocused thoughts will come to your mind as you do this, especially when you are first starting. The trick is to not fight them but instead acknowledge their existence while not lingering on them. Then let them fade just the way they came.
Mind mapping is a technique to help focus your brain storming to stay on topic.
A mind map starts with a central concept or idea then has branches leading to nodes of related ideas from that. Each of those branches can then have their own branches leading to nodes of related topics. Depending on how detailed you want to get will depend on how deep your branches go.
For those who lean more toward divergent thinking this adds some beneficial focus and removes a few of the more out there paths of thought without having to explore them. It allows you to stay focused by going down one trail then another on the same idea. Mind maps need to have a central theme and then associations branching from them. For them to work best limit the number of associations to 7 or fewer. The human brain has trouble working with more than 7 points of information at a time.
Creating and using a mind map takes practice, it can get overwhelming when you aren’t used to it and start off with a larger concept.
Writing is putting your thoughts, ideas, inspirations, or dreams down on paper.
Many people think writing requires a creative mind, and it is a good outlet for creativity, you do not have to be considered a creative person to write. You can use writing to improve your creativity. It can be as simple as writing down a to do list or as complex as a novel or epic poem. You don’t have to do anything special. Writing can help you keep track of things and when you take written notes you will remember them better.
A common mistake people make is to never get started, you’ll likely throw away the first draft but many never start because they can’t get it perfect the first time. The best way to start writing is to just start, whatever it is you want to write just write. The first few things will be bad, expect that and you won’t be disappointed.
Discussing involves talking through an idea or topic.
The podcast is a great example of a discussion method of thinking. In it we will state a topic and then discuss it between the two of us, sometimes with a guest. Some people are verbal processors who need to talk through their thoughts, while others are internal processors who may prefer to do more study before having a discussion. A mistake a lot of people make when discussing a topic is that they inadvertently turn the discussion into a debate.
Debating is a discussion with the intent of changing another person’s opinion or thoughts on a subject.
This doesn’t always mean changing the person who you are debating, for example political debates are not designed to change the opinion of the other candidate. The trick to being good at debating is to actually listen to what the other person is saying and see how it applies to what you think. Too often people are so focused on what they are going to say next that they miss the opportunity to find a connection. A common mistake with debating is that it can easily turn into an argument.
Tricks of the Trade
Being bad at something is a necessary step towards becoming good at it.