by Emma Sue Prince
We live and work in a world where uncertainty and change have become the norm. Even though we have all the information we could possibly want or need at our fingertips, our inability to manage its constant flow into our Smartphones and brains renders it useless. It seems as if we are constantly distracted, overwhelmed and unhappy.
But there are skills that we each have that really can help us to be happy right now. These skills need to become an essential part of our toolkit so that we are well equipped to prosper in our brave new world. We just need to tap into them and strengthen them. All 7 matter and all 7 overlap. In this exclusive series for Family Friendly Working, each week I’ll be looking at a different skill that you can immediately tap into and embrace. I promise you they make a huge difference to you personally, to how you work and to your family.
The second skill in this 7 Skills to Happiness Summer series is critical thinking. Now we may assume this is about a good argument, philosophy and analysis but it’s not any more. Critical thinking now is all about how we choose to see the world and engage with the massive amount of information at our fingertips.
It’s also about learning to tap into curiosity, question our assumptions and get a whole lot more creative! Our brains are utterly amazing yet we never give them space or time to do what they do best. So get better at questioning your own (and other’s) assumptions – you’ll notice that they are pretty much immediate and automatic in response to every single thing that comes our way or into our inbox or social media fee.
For me a big part of truly thinking critically is learning how to manage your technology – that includes becoming more mindful about how you engage with social media, what information you choose to read (and when) and absorb and how often you just give yourself space to actually think.
Routinise some of your everyday decisions too (like what you will wear or eat) and plan your day the night before so you can free up your brain for higher-order cognitive skills like creativity and problem-solving.
Observe your children – if you have pre-teenage kids they really do live in the present and are genuinely curious about the world.
Allow yourself to become more curious and fluid in your thinking. Do that by learning something new each day and allowing yourself to discover, question and come at things from a beginner’s mind. Yes, mindfulness helps too!
How does thinking critically make you happier? Simple – if you’re more aware of your own assumptions you make less of them over time. When you’re creative and collaborative you’re tapping into the “highest” version of yourself. And when you are mindful with your technology and how you engage with the world you are calmer and more in control. Plus, you’ll have some fabulous ideas in the process!
Emma Sue Prince is author of “7 Skills for the Future”, published by Pearson Business, available now in all major bookstores and from Amazon. Her podcast 7 Skills for the Future is on ITunes and all podcasting platforms. Emma Sue Prince is a specialist in experiential learning and believes strongly that this methodology is key to developing life skills and soft skills as it is the only way to develop self-awareness, upon which all behavioural change is based. She delivers powerful workshops in this regard and does so with many different target groups including “closed” groups such as Muslim communities in Bangladesh and North Africa and diverse groups in the UK including lawyers, doctors and software engineers.
Find out more at www.unimenta.com