The ability to think critically increases your happiness levels and it can improve your life BECAUSE better life-decisions mean more life-SATISFACTION. Trust me, the pursuit of happiness is one of the devil’s favourite sins.
Isn’t it ironic that the Devil, the one they all told you to fear, wants you to have a better life? And of all the aspects of life critical thinking can affect, happiness is the most important.
However, before you can pretend that happiness will happen if you think hard about it or that there’s some simple formula for it, you need to remember the definition of critical thinking. As I wrote in 5 ways to improve critical thinking skills: What it is and what it is not, critical thinking isn’t just criticism of an idea or concept. Critical thinking is also not only about having an opposing viewpoint.
Critical thinking is a self-reflective endeavour in which we challenge our conceptions to understand our own intellectual and moral limitations to arrive at better conclusions about the world in which we live.
Then, it would be best if you entertained a proper definition of happiness.
Think about it this way.
How do you arrive at your destination without having at least an idea of where it is? How do you become happier if you don’t know what that means to you? And whilst the meaning of happiness is necessarily subjective, it needs to be well-defined within relative parameters to be an achievable goal.
Let’s move on.
REMEMBER THE THIS IS ABOUT WANTING TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE. Science shows two things about the correlation between critical thinking and happiness. 1, applying critical thinking to your daily life results in improved happiness, and 2, that happiness improves critical thinking.
Critical thinking improves happiness because making decisions that benefit your (personal) context can enhance your well-being by ensuring more positive results from your endeavours.
It is about dealing with life events pragmatically. Even when these events are inopportune, reacting logically or critically can help mitigate the damage that unfavourable circumstances may cause.
I will admit here that while the focus of any educational curriculum should be on developing critical thinking skills, education is not a criterion by which to define it. Critical thinking is about a different kind of intelligence – it’s about controlling emotions and making decisions based on proper examination of the available facts.
In her Scientific American article, Heather A. Butler states, “we all know someone who is intelligent but does surprisingly stupid things.”
And she’s correct. Many of you only have to go home for dinner to find that person who, despite incredible success in many areas of life, has done things most people wouldn’t think about when drunk.
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Unfortunately, that critical ability to control emotions and react in a controlled manner isn’t natural to humans – they predominantly use feelings or emotional heuristics to make choices. The good news is that as a skill, critical thinking can be developed through disciplined training.
The first step to improving your critical thinking skills is an attitudinal shift. You need to want to think critically and accept that you are susceptible to countless inherent biases that control your thinking and emotions.
This shift in attitude is the beginning of that journey into a happier life for all human animals. A life in which disadvantageous life events are fewer and positive outcomes outweigh them.
This is how critical thinking can make you a happier person and improve your life in general. It can allow you to have a life with better decisions for yourself and those around you. It will give you a life in which you have more control of a world that is inherently chaotic and sometimes overwhelming.
More on this coming soon. Much more on this coming very soon.
If you want more advice on how to improve your life through critical thinking, consider reading these articles in the meantime.
— The Devil Unbound