The Thinker [Source]
35 to 48.
That is how many thoughts I think per minute! Every two seconds, I go through one thought and well on my way into another one. The next second brings an additional load of thoughts. And so on.
Which one of these thoughts is really important? How can I weave a critical path through this maze of myriad thoughts? How do I manage the onslaught of the seemingly never-ending thoughts?
Critical thinking helps me do that.
To think critically is not to be critical of others, myself or the stuff of life. It is not picking an argument for the fun of it. Rather, it is the ability to think clearly, rationally and decide what to do, what to believe.
The World Economic Forum in its January 2016 report “Future of Jobs” tells me that critical thinking skill will be one of the top three skills in demand within five years. The mind-boggling advancements taking place in areas like artificial intelligence, 3D printing, nanotechnology etc will demand critical thinking ability to integrate and leverage these developments.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution [Source]
Can I identify the importance of these various ideas and sort out which one is relevant, which one not? Can I detect inconsistencies and errors in my reasoning? Can I solve problems systematically? Can I logically connect the various dots and get a peep into the future?
According to Critical Thinking Web, thinking skills such as these that are based on sound logic and data will be very important in my life, starting now.
My sense is this sort of critical thinking skill is only like a super structure of a building. It is only as good as the foundation it rests on. Thinking exclusively on the basis of rationality, data and logic can take me only so far. I must resort to wisdom also. I need to ensure my rationality and logic, however good they may be, rest firmly on a larger and firmer substratum. I need to ensure that I don’t mistakenly overlook an important data in front of me. I cannot afford to let an important thought in my mind pass me by and lose it.
Critical thinking is more than the lucidity of logic, the rhythm of rationality or the dance of data.
Critical thinking is thinking that calms the mind first.
Only a calm mind gives the clarity I need to build on data, logic and rationality properly.
How to think in a way that calms the mind? Bhagavad Gita shows a facile way.
I must learn to do my work without being obsessed with its result. The result will come of its own accord whether I desire it or not. Decoupling from my desire to achieve a certain result but focusing on doing the work well instead calms my mind. As I practice doing all work that come my way in this manner, I learn a very useful work-skill. This skill calms my mind instantly and gives me eternal peace itself .
karma phala thyagaat santim anantaram [Bhagvad Gita 12.12]
Critical thinking is thinking with the heart.
It is the heart that reaches the goal. Follow the heart. A pure heart seeks beyond the intellect. It gets inspired. – Sathya Sai Baba
Heart-based thinking seeks the well being of others over mine. It revels in sacrifice. This expansive outlook not only pacifies my mind but actually rejuvenates my life and work skills. It simplifies the solving of complex problems. Logic, rationality and the understanding of data and their analysis then fall into place easily.
Critical thinking is thinking that results in a calm mind and an expansive heart.
Critical thinking is thinking that gives genuine happiness. It opens the irrepressible joy of life that is mine for the asking.
Critical thinking is togetherness [Source]
Critical thinking is the thinking that seeks togetherness. In the comfort and solace of togetherness lies peace of mind.
In the 50000 or so thoughts that pass through my mind in a day, the ones that promote togetherness are the ones I select and hold on to. Selecting critical thoughts to hold on to is vital to developing critical thinking skills. In togetherness lies all success and growth. The vedic prayer that has been a guiding beacon in my life says
Let us live together. Let us grow together. Together let us achieve great things.
saha naavavatu, saha now bhunaktu. saha veeryam karavaavahai
What can be more critical than this?