How to become a better thinker


The brain is an incredibly mysterious and powerful organ that in our day-to-day lives often goes unnoticed. But have you taken a moment to try and understand how you use it and how you can actually improve your thinking skills? It might seem tricky due to it being a complex and context-dependent skill, but with a little patience you can implement some principles that can improve both your professional and personal life

Slow down
Slow down

Probably the easiest way to improve your thinking is to slow down. If you sense that you need a bit more brainpower, a deep breath followed by even just a one-second pause may help.

Tap into your emotionsTap into your emotions

Our conscious thoughts are only a small part of what’s going on in our brains. And, at any moment, the unconscious is taking in a lot of information that you’re not even aware of. Based on this, the brain generates emotions, which can feel like subtle feelings. Don’t disregard them when they come.

Take longer showersTake longer showers

Studies show that moments of insight often arrive when you’re not aware that you’re thinking of the problem, such as during a warm shower or a long stroll. Of course, for the sake of the planet, don’t overdo it with the shower!

Don’t think under pressureDon't think under pressure

When you’re under pressure, your mind can become a messy blur, and you forget the basic details of something that’s usually a no-brainer. Take some deep breaths and remember to trust your instincts.

Consider alternative points of viewConsider alternative points of view

The brain naturally filters the world to confirm what it already believes. But this habit is limiting and dangerous, as you could be fixating on the wrong answers. As hard as it can be, try to understand alternative points of view.

Exercise regularlyExercise regularly

Regular exercise can help your blood circulate and bring enough oxygen to your brain. This results in better cognitive functions, meaning you’ll be in a better state of making sound judgments.

Don’t be too critical
Don't be too critical

Critical people can bring too much negativity to the table, and push people away. Being too critical will make you trust people less at work and even in relationships. Reevaluate if this is something you do.

Read and watch things that use moderately better thinking than yoursRead and watch things that use moderately better thinking than yours

Choose publications, TV shows, books, etc. that you enjoy but require your full attention. Those are likely at your instructional level, which maximizes your growth.


Scientists have discovered that daydreaming is an important tool for creativity. It causes a rush of activity in a circuit, which connects different parts of the brain and allows the mind to make new associations.

Chewing gumChewing gum

Research suggests that chewing gum increases memory and concentration as it increases oxygenation to the brain. So when faced with a cognitive challenge, grab a piece of gum!

Think about thinkingThink about thinking

Many scientists argue that this skill, known as metacognition, is the best predictor of good judgment, as it shows willingness to engage in introspection.

Be skeptical of your memoriesBe skeptical of your memories

Scientists have demonstrated that human memories are surprisingly dishonest. Recalling an event changes the structure of that memory in the brain. The more you think about it, the less accurate your recollection becomes.

Play mind gamesPlay mind games

Doing brain-challenging activities, like chess or a crossword puzzle, will keep your mind sharp as you age, and also helps prevent cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. These games can also help you develop strategic and critical thinking skills.

Weigh first the possible consequences of a decisionWeigh first the possible consequences of a decision

Decision-making involves sound judgment of the possible results of your options. Even if you can’t predict the exact outcome, thinking ahead can help give you a vision of what could potentially happen.

Study your mistakesStudy your mistakes

One common trait of successful people is their willingness to understand what they could have done better. It’s a vital component of learning, since brain cells figure out how to get things right by analyzing what they got wrong.

Look aheadLook ahead

Plan what you want to accomplish for a certain period. Having specific goals and planning how to achieve them will help your mind focus on what’s necessary.

Empty your mindEmpty your mind

Sometimes you need to clear your mind, especially when you’re dealing with stress or anxiety. Even if it’s not easy, practicing meditation will help declutter your thoughts and help you relax.

Hang out with good thinkers and ask for honest feedbackHang out with good thinkers and ask for honest feedback

Ask such people to tell you when your thinking isn’t solid. That might be the most effective way to improve your thinking because you’re getting feedback that’s individualized and in context.

Get enough sleepGet enough sleep

Lack of sleep makes you irritable and absent-minded because your body and brain have run out of energy. This will result in poor judgment.

Focus your mind on what you’re doing nowFocus your mind on what you're doing now

Train your mind to always concentrate on what you’re doing at the moment. If you’re studying, then control your thoughts from thinking about what to have for dinner, for instance.

Challenge your preferencesChallenge your preferences

Like presumptive beliefs, your supposed likes and dislikes can also limit your mind. Be it your taste in fashion or wine, by figuring out what you truly like, you will be more honest with yourself and enjoy life more.

Choose moderately challenging tasksChoose moderately challenging tasks

When you have a lot on your plate, consider first  choosing tasks that are not too easy and not too hard. That will engage your brain at a level at which you can learn. If it’s too easy, you learn nothing. If it’s too hard, you can’t engage with it.

Listen carefullyListen carefully

Don’t automatically accept ideas that are conventional wisdom. It’s tempting to agree with them, but rather weigh each argument on its merits. You can also reflect on these questions: does the speaker appeal more to reason or to emotion? Do you sense fair-mindedness or bias?

Treat every problem as an opportunity to growTreat every problem as an opportunity to grow

If you think of problems as hindrances to your happiness and success, then this could easily discourage you. But if you think of them as opportunities to enhance your problem-solving skills and grow in patience and wisdom, then things will run a lot smoother.

Take a classTake a class

If you’re the kind of person who wants an expert to structure your learning, take a class or even a course in critical thinking, rhetoric, or communication.

Be content with what you currently haveBe content with what you currently have

While you need to aim for higher goals and strive to achieve greater things, it’s still important to be grateful for what you have. Cherish the little achievements and use them as motivation.

Control your mind from overthinkingControl your mind from overthinking

Overthinking is caused by too much worrying. The best way to stop yourself is by keeping your mind busy with productive things and diverting your attention to something else.

Filter what you hearFilter what you hear

You shouldn’t accept everything that you hear from others about you. Whether they’re opinions or criticisms, evaluate which ones are constructive, true, and useful.

Don’t be stuck in the pastDon't be stuck in the past

Being stuck in the past will keep you bitter and affect your thoughts. Instead of being able to focus on how you can be productive, your mind will be lingering around ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s.’


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