Critical thinking and other malfunctions

Nancy Ferris

One way of choosing a path is through thoughtful consideration based upon the analysis of the available facts before arriving at a formidable conclusion and propelling action toward the greater good for ourselves and others. Others choose an easier path, called an impulse-driven reaction, based on self-centered needs and instant gratification.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

A fine-tuned automobile was never meant to be driven off a paved highway, but a loud, belching ATV or motor bike can bounce around on a pig path going nowhere on any dirty road desired. And just like that, we can choose either vehicle for the majority of adventures in our life story. A fine-tuned vehicle, like a life, requires planning and maintenance. Doing critical thinking, to map a strategy for acquiring a solid, dependable mode of transportation will result in a safe arrival at the chosen destination.

Reflex choices can be reckless, immature, and stupid fun for a while—maybe even daring, exciting, forbidden, or habit forming. Delayed gratification is not practiced, and cranial kick-starts are replaced by a boot on a lever. Another definition of an imbecile is one who rides without a helmet or chooses to go through life without the seat belt in place. They could become a hot mess on the side of the road or just fade away over the years, like the Hell’s Angels.

Some classic stories of distorted thinking include the star quarterback with brain damage before retiring, who can only live in his past if he remembers at all, the beauty queen addicted to plastic surgery, trying to delay the inevitable aging process, the rocker who blew out his ear drums one time too many and does drugs alone in the silence, the washed-up movie star trying to be a sex symbol in a B movie, the extreme sports addict hanging by a thread or running with the bulls, and the unrepentant alcoholic who lost his job and family, not to mention his soul.

Going back to this idea of critical thinking sounds pretty good compared to not thinking at all. We are the author of our own life story but only a lucky few discover that fact before middle age or beyond. A child prodigy persecuted by bullies or ignored by adults is discovered. The nerd eventually trumps Neanderthals every time. Everyday heroes abound outside the military. An ugly duckling radiates beauty from the inside outward.

Most of us need time and experience under our belts to arrive at critical thinking. The real deal is to think about thinking. Not meditation, confession, promises, or good intentions, but challenge our brain to become multi-dimensional (which it already is), and open our hearts at the same time. We can be more forgiving, accepting, and tolerant of others beliefs and opinions when we pause and practice thoughtful consideration. Who knows, we might even like ourselves more when we arrive at our chosen destination.