It’s a widely known concept that our thoughts determine who we become and the reality we create in our lives.
Numerous books have been written on the power of our thoughts including:
- The Magic of Thinking Big
- As a Man Thinketh
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- The Science of Getting Rich
As our thoughts dictate how and what we experience in life, it’s important that we become better at directing our thoughts in order to be more creative and become better problem solvers.
Many years ago, Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” The concept of critical thinking is just one technique that can be used to generate intelligent thoughts that can be directed towards creating positive outcomes and problem solving.
What is Critical Thinking?
According to the dictionary, critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.
According to the Critical Thinking Community website, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
Put simply, critical thinking is a process or way of thinking that facilitates the achievement of specifically defined outcomes.
We all deal with situations in life differently. While one person may find a particular situation stressful, another person may be quite comfortable with it.
As a result, how we overcome situations we consider stressful will be different. There aren’t techniques that will work for everyone, which is why it’s good to be aware of different things we can do to deal with stressful situations.
What is Considered to be a Stressful Situation?
Here are some examples of stressful situations. While this may not be a complete list of stressful situations, whether at work or life in general, it’s good to be aware of what can cause stress for others.
- Losing a job.
- Having a conflict with a colleague or team member at work.
- Receiving bad medical news, either personally or for a family member.
- Having financial difficulties.
- Witnessing a crime or being involved in a crime.
- Getting ready or planning for a holiday.
- Losing something valuable.
- Getting engaged or married.
- Offered a new career opportunity.
- Dealing with death of a loved one or close friend.
Each time we experience a situation we deem to be stressful, it’s always helpful to have tools and techniques to be able to cope with them.
The great thing about life is our biggest lessons are often learned after we’ve made big mistakes. And we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes.
While we don’t intentionally try to make mistakes, when we do, it can be painful, uncomfortable and sometimes, even agonising, especially if we keep thinking about what we did or didn’t do.
If we’re not careful, reliving our major mistakes over and over again can lead to:
- Sadness or depression.
- Loss of self-confidence.
- High levels of anxiety.
- Low levels of performance and effectiveness.
- Less willingness to try new things or take new risks.
The good news is we always have a choice. We can choose to do what we can to move on and ensure we do not repeat similar mistakes again in the future.
As we are relying on technology more than ever before to recall and remember things, having a trained memory can be a big advantage.
If we think back to just a couple of decades ago, when we didn’t have smart devices, we tended to rely on our memory to remember numbers, facts, dates and names. Since we didn’t have tools like we have today, we really didn’t have much of a choice but to remember things any way we could.
Having a trained memory is a critical skill to master if we want to differentiate ourselves from others. Just think what type of an impression we can make if we meet someone for the first time and can recall things they say, including their name.
If we cannot remember a person’s name, the message we give off is we don’t care enough about them, and there’s a very high probability they won’t like or trust us.
I was first exposed to memory training a few years ago when I watched a video of Ron White, a two-time USA Memory Champion, give a presentation where he was able to recall the names of at least fifty audience members and was able to recall twenty or thirty digit numbers easily.
That sparked my interest in learning memory techniques, which I still continue to do so today.
Getting adequate sleep every night is a vital practice if we want to have better overall health and be at our best.
The subject of sleep has becoming quite popular in recent times with books such as The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington and Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson shedding new light on why sleep is so important for us.
Arianna Huffington also gave a TED talk on the subject, which now has had over four million views.
The costs of not getting enough sleep or sleep deprivation is becoming widely known as more studies are done on the subject. Some of these costs, especially to our health, include:
- Anger and irritability.
The old belief or saying, “If you snooze, you lose” is being questioned because all the research is now suggesting that we cannot be at our best if we’re not getting enough sleep each night.
Strong leaders have certain qualities that make them attractive and likewise, poor leaders also have qualities that affect the way they lead others.
We tend to do better when we’re influenced by powerful leaders but not as well if we’re working for or with a weak leader. Having strong leadership skills is a necessary requirement if we want to have the influence or make the impact we want.
Becoming aware of poor leadership qualities can be a critical step as we strive to become better leaders and serve others as best as we can.
Many years ago, a manager I worked for displayed a mix of good and weak leadership qualities. On the positive side, he was knowledgeable of internal processes and supported many improvement projects in the business. He had good people skills and got along well with most of his team members.
On the negative side, he did not prioritise his day well. He tended to be unprepared during team updates or meetings, and was often disconnected from what his team members were working on. One thing that annoyed team members was he often played games like solitaire on his computer, while everyone else was under pressure trying to get things done on time.
If we want a life that’s rewarding and meaningful, we’ll have to do new things and take on new challenges so that we can have new experiences.
As we make progress towards things we want, it’s inevitable we’ll encounter obstacles along the way. A good thing about obstacles is that they can help us get a lot clearer on what we’re doing or what we’re trying to achieve.
The better we deal with obstacles, the quicker we’ll get to where we want to be.
The Different Kinds of Obstacles
- Internal — These can include our habitual way of thinking, our beliefs, behaviours or mindsets. Most times, once we overcome our internal obstacles, other obstacles tend to disappear.
- External — These can include other people, our environments, our geographical location or the economic climate we’re faced with.
The way we deal with our perceived internal and external obstacles will determine the quality of our results and how soon we achieve what we want.
As we get busier and busier and seemingly have more things to do, it’s becoming more difficult to stay focused and be productive.
We have more opportunities now that ever before, which is both a positive and negative. On the positive side, we have a better chance of creating the lifestyle we want by taking advantage of the opportunities available to us.
On the negative side, having more opportunities can make us indecisive, feel like we have more to do than we can handle, and also cause us to feel like we’re not making progress or taking advantage of the opportunities available to us.
Once our capacity to deal with things is reached, unless we have a strong mindset, we can easily become overwhelmed, stressed and not perform as well as we know we can.
What we want is the right balance between taking care of our priorities and taking advantage of the opportunities available to us without adding more stress to our lives.
It’s not a surprise that the better we start off our day in the mornings, the better our day will usually be.
If we start off our day rushing, becoming frustrated or not in a good mood, the rest of our day often tends to continue that way. Likewise, if we start off our day calm, composed and under control, we have a much higher chance of experiencing the same feelings during our day.
Therefore it makes a lot of sense to be intentional as to how we start off our day and pay closer attention to our morning routine. As we typically start off most of our days the same way, it’s intelligent to build in things that will increase our chances of being at our best and doing what we want to.
When I was in my twenties and had a full-time corporate career, each day tended to start off in a rush. As I used to commute between thirty to forty minutes each way to work, I always felt I was running late as I usually gave myself about thirty minutes to get ready, have some breakfast, make my lunch and then drive to work.
I also used to drive during peak periods so the amount of traffic on the road used to get me agitated and frustrated.