Thinking deeply is essential. It doesn’t matter where you stand on any religious, political, social, or economic issue. It doesn’t matter what your perspectives are about life in general. We must be people who think deeply and intelligently, about all things. With this in mind, you may be wondering how to go about ensuring that you are thinking and processing things in life to a deeper degree than a mere surface level understanding. Below are some keys to thinking deeply. Enjoy!
You must create, set aside, and allow time for deep thought throughout the day. This can look a number of different ways. For some it may be sitting quietly in your favorite chair with you favorite cup of coffee or tea. For some it is during that early morning run. For others it may be during a meal or while driving to and from work during that long commute. Find what works best for you. The idea here is to create quiet time to think, by turn everything else off. Yes, I am talking about the TV, radio, cell phone, etc. Turn them off! We have so many interruptions in our lives today, that we don’t have enough silence to simply sit and contemplate about our lives, world, where we are at, what we are doing, etc. Creating time for solitude is a discipline, but it is a worthy one that will go a long way in helping you think deeply.
We have never had more access to a greater range of information than we do today. With that being said, we have also never done less with the great range of resources we have. To think deeply about anything, we must use the resources we have at our disposal such as: conversations with people, reading books and magazines, checking out websites, etc. One key here, is variety. Have conversations with people, read books or articles, etc. that do not always agree with your opinion 100%. This will help to give you a different perspective and see things from a different point of view. A second key is to make sure that the resource is worthy and accurate. Much of what is available to us today is great, scholarly, and well-thought out regardless of the position taken. On the flip side a lot of what’s out there it is junk. When looking to challenge yourself and your thinking, make sure that the resources you are using are reliable and worthy of using in the first place.
3. Ability to Admit When Wrong
When thinking deeply, you must have the humility to admit that at times you will be wrong. Let’s face it, none of us are experts. None of us know everything about everything. At the same time, all of us do in fact continue to grow as we experience new things and encounter new truths. Since both these aspects or being human are true, there will be times we simply need to admit that we are wrong about something and need to adjust or change our way of thinking. This does not mean that we cannot hold differing beliefs or opinions than someone else, but it does mean that if truth is presented, identified as being accurate, and in in contrast to what we believe, we have to be willing to admit our initial thinking was wrong and be ready to wrestle with the truth and grow from there.
4. Ability to See Perspectives
This takes maturity. This takes grace. This does not mean that you always have to change what you believe or hold to be true, but it does mean that it is important to consider a topic from all angles and all perspectives. Everybody loves to be heard and know that their viewpoint is being considered. The struggle generally can come when trying to give someone of a different persuasion, the grace to be heard without becoming combative or argumentative. Honestly, this needs to change. In order to think deeply about a subject, we must settle it in ourselves that everyone has the freedom to think and believe differently and that is okay. Everyone has the right to be heard and treated with respect. People have the right to engage in conversation, or read a book, and in the end walk away still disagreeing…that is okay! If you want to learn to think deeply about anything, then learn to engage different perspectives in peace and love, and give thought to them without becoming combative…even if there is disagreement in points of view.
Whether it is in conversation with someone else or the thoughts coming off a page or screen, you must be able to listen well. This means listening with open ears, mind and heart rather than solely through your particular set of beliefs. This is arguably difficult at times. We all view our world through a particular set of lenses, and sometimes taking those lenses off for a period of time can be challenging. Truthfully, we can never be totally objective, but if we cannot learn to try and listen well, hearing what someone is actually saying, then we can run the risk of unfairly skewing what someone is trying to communicate. No one likes to be misinterpreted or misrepresented. We need to make sure we hear what others are saying… accurately. To listen well, don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions such as, “What I am hearing you say is ______, am I accurate in my understanding?” Listening well is a difficult but wonderful discipline, and can help you take huge strides in thinking deeply.
6. Don’t Be Afraid of Process
Thinking deeply is a process. A process is something that takes time. Depending on the topic or issue of consideration, arriving at the best conclusion might not always be a “one and done” talk, read, etc. It may take an extended period of time, numerous different resources, or discovering and asking new questions. Don’t be afraid to continue the process if an answer or belief is not blatantly apparent right away. In our culture today, we are conditioned to believe that process or anything that’s not immediate, is negative. Our culture operates out of a “I want it now, I will get it now” mentality. By and large, the idea of process is counter-cultural and therefore so is thinking deeply a lot of the time. Fight for it, embrace it, and enjoy the process…it is healthy.
I trust these suggestions will help as you consider what it means for you to be a person that thinks deeply. In the end, my hope is that we all would grow to the place where thinking deeply becomes the norm, rather than the exception.
Great things can come from a people that respect and love each other through grace and process life through deep thought.
* There may be more keys out there to help in thinking deeply, and please feel free to let me know if you have one that is relevant and unlisted.