The definition of 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." (Visit this link for more definitions) That is the complicated version. To simplify, someone who thinks critically is able to look at a question and seek answers from multiple angles. They are open minded, willing to change their opinion or reevaluate if they come across compelling information that is contrary to what they believed prior to that information being considered. Because of the gift of open mindedness, critical thinkers are often able to reach well-reasoned conclusions and find accurate answers to their questions.
This, however, is not always the case... especially when it comes to topics that are what some people call "hot-button issues". With the right information & mindset, though, critical thinkers can be one step ahead of the crowd on these hot-button topics. The reason that these "hot-button issues" are so difficult to find accurate answers and well-reasoned conclusions to, is because they often have a subjective, personal bias involved in the way humans view them. A critical thinker is able to understand when they are face to face with a question for which there is no answer that is able to be reached, without a certain amount of bias or personal opinion involved. In these situations, it is beneficial to a critical thinker to avoid being overly pushy with their position on the topic, because due to the bias that is involved in formulating a conclusion, they simply could never conclude that the answer they've reached is 100% accurate for every other person! Critical thinking involves the willingness to accept that what is believed by you is not always going to be correct. It is important for critical thinkers to test their own beliefs and assumptions against relevant data. Belief includes personal experience stacked on top of loads of information stored up over our lifetimes, with varying quantities and degrees of accuracy. A critical thinker strives for their beliefs and assumptions to be aligned with objective reality, not out of touch with it!
In the secular world today, I see a big emphasis being made on personal truth. "What is true for you is true for you and that is okay." is just one example of what you may hear someone say today if you are having a conversation on the topic of personal truth. While I do not deny that personal truths can exist, I also believe that there is objective reality. Objective reality is something that does not change because of an individual's personal perceptions and opinions. It is real beyond the realm of the individual person or group of people. For example, it is personally true to me that I don't think I look good in a Mohawk haircut, while an objective truth is the fact that people have in the past cut their hair in that way. It is a personal opinion-level truth that I think cats and dogs make better pets than snakes, it is objectively true that dogs, cats, and snakes are real animals that exist in the world today. It is personally true that I like the warm weather, it is objectively true that no matter how hard I try to imagine being anywhere else, I reside in Wisconsin at the time of me writing this insight. The contrast between personal truth and objective reality is something that should be very clear to critical thinkers. Unfortunately, there are some trends of thought that don't believe that objective reality exists, and that personal truth is all there is. The truth is, subjective reality and objective reality are both real. We can have opinions and at the same time be in touch with a truth that does not change with the shifting of our opinions of it. It is a slippery slope to say something like, "what is true for you is the ultimate truth", because sometimes we as humans can believe with all our hearts that something is true, even though it is out of touch with reality. It may be true to a person's feelings and mindset, but the reality outside of these subjective realms of personal thought and feeling may be entirely different.
One of the main goals of In A New Way and the OIC Podcast is to share information that can improve the lives of individuals personally. This can be done in several different ways; by sharing personal truths of experiences we've had in life and how we've learned from them, by sharing objective facts that are to the best of our knowledge in touch with objective reality, and by comparing/relating the two in a way that harmoniously combines our personal experiences and opinions with objective reality. We consider it a victory whenever someone's life is impacted in a positive way through our business. If the impact that we make is in touch with objective reality and/or cultivates a healthy personal truth then it will have more opportunity to create positive ripples that extend beyond the life of just that one individual who was impacted. We do our best to make sure that the way we impact people's lives continuously creates those positive ripple-effects. If what we do and what we say is NOT in touch with objective reality, or doesn't cultivate healthy personal truth in people's lives, then that is something we do not want to continue doing.
That being said, this post is my personal message to you that by practicing self-reflection and analyzing the beliefs you hold, you have the ability to greatly improve your own life. The reason I can say that is because I personally had to do those things in the past, and it has now greatly improved my own life! When I was just getting out of high school and entering college, I was holding onto many assumptions and opinions that I believed to be true, but which I later on in life found out were not in touch with reality. I used to also hold onto some personal truths that did not bring any empowerment, goodness or enlightenment to my life whatsoever. Those personal truths were not necessarily out of touch with nor in alignment with objective reality, but holding them in my heart and mind was only causing me to look at myself and others negatively. When I discovered how to look at my own thoughts, opinions, and firmly-held beliefs In A New Way that involved critical thinking, I opened myself up to what seemed to be a whole new world! The way that I discerned whether the information I came across in life was true or untrue completely changed. It was only after realizing that I needed to research both sides of a story & think critically from a birds-eye view, that I was able to discover new information that was rooted in objective reality. These discoveries exposed some ideas that I had previously believed to be true as being, in actuality, false. Only after realizing the importance of critically thinking through personal truths in my life, did I then realized (through other people's experiences and lessons-learned) that I was holding onto some subjective opinions that were not doing anything to benefit my life or anyone else's lives, either. When I discovered these false beliefs and subjective opinions I was then able to rid my mind and heart of them. This "taking out the trash" process was not always instantaneous, and some of my more firmly rooted ideas, opinions, and beliefs took quite a bit of time to get rid of completely. Despite the difficulty I faced, I will say this, it has definitely been worth the trouble! By getting in touch with objective reality, and then also replacing unhealthy habits of the mind and heart with healthier ones, my life has drastically improved emotionally, physically and spiritually!
That is a purpose that we intend to aid you in accomplishing in your life here at In A New Way! It has always been a foundational goal for creating this website that those who visit it are challenged to be critical thinkers, and to replace what is holding them down in life with understanding of how to do things In A New Way, so that their lives can be positively impacted in every way! If you'd like to learn more on this subject and about how you can become the enabling factor for critical thinking and positive personal truth in your life, check out the content below found easily through our website!
Episode 16- Mental Protection & Clarity: In these chaotic times of both natural, and unnatural disasters, it is easy to get lost in a state of mind which is overwhelmed with worry, responsibilities, and negative thinking patterns. On this episode your hosts present you with new ways to harness the strength that you can have over your own mind!
Episode 19- The Value of Truth: Genuine truth is something that is always true, no matter what an individual person's perception may be.
Episode 60- Open Mindedness: Having an open mind means a healthy amount of skepticism, and a willingness to hear both sides of any given subject!
Episode 61- Skepticism: In this episode of the OIC Podcast, we discuss in detail the difference between a healthy skeptical attitude, and an unhealthy skeptical way of being. Skepticism can be a good thing, but only if one has an open mind!