Improving Life Through Critical and Creative Thinking

All of these Critical and Creative Thinking skills can improve your life by helping you to solve problems, make decisions, get things done.

Here are a few ways to apply the information to improve the quality of your thinking and your life.

  1. Be metacognitive in difficult situations
  2. Use the guidelines for critical thinking.
  3. Avoid mistakes in thinking. 
  4. Find reliable resources on the internet.
  5. Honor the stages of the creative process.
  6. Brainstorm.
  7. Give yourself time to think.

The 20-Minute Problem Solving Model

Now it’s time to put the thinking skills to good use with a model of Creative problem Solving. You may get some inspirational solutions and come up with a satisfactory result. Though you can use this model by yourself, it is easier to learn the process by working with one or two other people. One person identifies a problem and the others help solve it.

Follow these steps:

Step 1

Describe the problem to the other people for five minutes. Say everything you cab about the problem. Remember the 5W’s and H: Who? What? When? Where? and How? What led to the problem? What are the consequences? What are your feelings? What are your feelings of others? If you run out of things to say, start repeating things you said before. Just keep talking for five minutes. Let the others listen and take notes.

Step 2

Allow the others to ask you questions for five minutes; then answer their questions. Some suggested questions: What do you really want? Is this a new problem? If the problem occurred before, how did you and others react? How has it worked out?

Step 3

In the group, brainstorm ideas for solutions for five minutes. One of the other two participants records the ideas for you. 

Step 4

Select the ideas that seem best to you. If you want, you can ask the others for suggestions, but you don’t have to. If you don’t ask them, they are not allowed to volunteer their ideas. As a group, develop a plan of action.

People are always amazed at what they can accomplish with this 20-Minute Creative Problem-Solving Process. The most difficult part is the first five minutes. It’s often hard for the problem owner to talk for five minutes and for the listeners to stay quiet! But it keeps everyone focused, and no time is wasted on socializing.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Both convergent and divergent thinking are necessary for real-life problem solving and decision making.

Divergent Thinking, mostly related to creative thinking, is thinking aimed at finding many possible answers.

Convergent Thinking, mostly related to critical thinking, looks for correct answers or guides us toward selecting from many possible answers.

The answer to the question “What work did American women do during World War II?” requires divergent thinking, while the answers to “What does WAC stand for?” and “Which aspect of American women shall I write about?” requires convergent thinking.

You may identify your learning style as leaning toward either sequential or random learning. A preference toward random learning generally means you find strength and comfort in divergent thinking (more creative), while a preference toward sequential learning generally means you find strength and comfort in convergent thinking (more critical).

Since everyone posses qualities of both types of learners, everyone is able to think both creatively and critically.