December 01, 2014

The Art of Thinking


We face many decisions in daily life. But are we always thinking clearly enough to make the right ones? Billionaires shows you how to utilise your grey matter to ensure you do…
Few of us could deny that in the current digital age we have come to rely on computers more and more to do our thinking for us. With technology running our lives and advertising plastered everywhere we look, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make our own decisions. Unquestionably, we are under so many external influences these days it can be hard to judge when we are thinking for ourselves and when we are allowing external forces to do the thinking for us.

It’s been said that we humans use only use about 10 per cent of our brains. In the case of some people that paltry figure stretches to 15 per cent. But for our brains to become more and more dormant is very dangerous; being able to think for ourselves not only means we are no longer a product of someone else’s programming, it also boosts our self-esteem which has a positive effect on mood.

From the moment we are born we are expected to conform – to other people’s expectations of us and our cultural surroundings. We dress in similar ways depending on the current fashion trends, listen to the same music our friends listen to, buy gadgets and gizmos advertisers tell us we need. While this kind of behaviour gives us a sense of belonging and is an essential part of functioning within a society, it can also prove restrictive and limiting if we merely accept everything we are told and taught. In many areas of life, especially business, it is crucial to form more of our own opinions.

As Steve Jobs once famously said: “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living the result of other people’s thinking.”
Thinking for ourselves means that our judgements and opinions will not only be well evaluated, but that we won’t compromise the facts or our own beliefs merely for the sake of belonging. One example of this is when group thinking kicks into play.

Group thinking is a psychological phenomenon that sometimes occurs when a number of people get together and, instead of expressing their individual viewpoints, come to an irrational decision about something because they have a desire for harmony within the group. They reach a consensus decision without critical consideration of alternative viewpoints, by quashing dissenting viewpoints, and isolating themselves from outside influences. Cults are very extreme examples of this. And in the corporate world, ineffective group decision-making can have a very negative impact on the economic health of a company.

So how do we think for ourselves more? And does being an original thinker mean we have to disagree with others all the time or be argumentative and difficult? In fact no. Thinking for ourselves simply means that our opinions are well considered and based on our own thorough analysis.

It is about not compromising facts for the sake of general consensus and is about allowing a wider scope of choices in our lives. The more we think independently, the more we begin to trust ourselves, expand our minds, and become more mindful of media and advertising tricks. We also gain more respect from others for having the confidence to stand our ground, even if it means going against the norm.

Not sure where to get started? Here are some steps you can take to become more of a free thinker:

Educate Yourself
The more knowledge you have about a subject matter, the more you can weigh up the pros and cons then formulate a rational decision or argument. So read, watch or listen to whatever you need to first.

Know You
Having a strong sense of who you are and where your morals and boundaries lie ensures you can do what is best for you without others dictating how you should look, behave or what you should like. Do the things you enjoy doing and encounter the experiences you want to encounter.

Have Courage
This means standing up for what you believe in no matter the consequences. Nelson Mandela and Ghandi are fine examples of this. You don’t always have to follow the crowd like a sheep just to keep the peace or be accepted. If you have a brilliant business idea speak up about it – don’t be afraid of rejection. The best ideas all start somewhere.

Check In
Take the time to evaluate and judge things based upon what you see rather than what you’ve been led to believe based on your culture or others’ opinions. Sit down and think about what you really want, not what people expect of you

Don’t Be Rigid
Look at the outcomes to a situation from as many angles as you can and weigh up the pros and cons such as who may benefit or not benefit, what the potential consequences are and what the impact might be long term on a decision you make.
Thinking for ourselves isn’t an easy thing to master, and doesn’t just happen overnight. But follow Billionaires’ guidelines and you will be well on your way to becoming the real person you want to be in no time.

By Nilifur Atik

With many thanks to Billionaires Australia

Sadly there are many people who would prefer us not to think at all, or at least conform to their ideas. Edward Bernays excelled at this.