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In doing this, of course, focus on four techniques of clarification : 1) Stating what you are saying explicitly and precisely (with careful consideration given to your choice of words), 2) Elaborating on your meaning in other words, 3) Giving examples of what you mean from experiences you have had, and 4) Using analogies, metaphors, pictures, or diagrams to illustrate what you mean. How a situation is defined determines not only how we feel about it, but also how we act in it, and what implications it has for us.In other words, you will frequently STATE, ELABORATE, ILLUSTRATE, AND EXEMPLIFY your points. However, virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way.This fact carries with it tremendous opportunities.
Many of the negative definitions that we give to situations in our lives could in principle be transformed into positive ones.
We can be happy when otherwise we would have been sad.
Though you probably can’t do all of these at the same time, we recommend an approach in which you experiment with all of these over an extended period of time. All humans waste some time; that is, fail to use all of their time productively or even pleasurably.
Nevertheless, each represents a plausible way to begin to do something concrete to improve thinking in a regular way.
8) When you act, monitor the implications of your action as they begin to emerge. For example, concentrating on intellectual humility, begin to notice when you admit you are wrong.
Be ready at a moment’s notice to revise your strategy if the situation requires it. Notice when you refuse to admit you are wrong, even in the face of glaring evidence that you are in fact wrong.To make this strategy practical, we should create some specific guidelines for ourselves.For example, we might make ourselves a list of five to ten recurrent negative contexts in which we feel frustrated, angry, unhappy, or worried.It is not possible to become an excellent thinker simply because one wills it. Distinguish Problems over which you have some control from problems over which you have no control.Changing one’s habits of thought is a long-range project, happening over years, not weeks or months. Set aside the problems over which you have no control, concentrating your efforts on those problems you can potentially solve. Distinguish problems under your control from problems beyond your control. Development in thinking requires a gradual process requiring plateaus of learning and just plain hard work. Figure out, for example, what sorts of things you are going to have to do to solve it. As long as we take our thinking for granted, we don’t do the work required for improvement. 2) Study the problem to make clear the “kind” of problem you are dealing with. As time passes, you will notice patterns in your thinking. At the beginning of each day (perhaps driving to work or going to school) choose a problem to work on when you have free moments. It would also be useful to record your observations so that you are forced to spell out details and be explicit in what you recognize and see.We can be fulfilled when otherwise we would have been frustrated.In this strategy, we practice redefining the way we see things, turning negatives into positives, dead-ends into new beginnings, mistakes into opportunities to learn.