Are you feeling stressed out by work or studies? Do you feel it’s hard to create new ideas or concepts? Do you get hung up in endless arguments either online or offline? All of the above arises from the way we think. Thinking is not something that just happens to us — it’s something we actively do.
Like any human activity, thinking can be methodically improved. In fact, many great thinkers in the history of humanity, ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Ada Lovelace, from Thomas Edison to Marie Curie have been seriously methodical in producing their breakthroughs.
One of the most powerful ways to develop your thinking is to learn to use thinking tools. Thinking tools are a group of methods and practices that helps you navigate the multi-layered wonderland of your own mind, leveraging the conscious and non-conscious parts of your mind to create great ideas, to manage even massive amounts of minute tasks, and to leverage your environment and technology in improving your thinking capacity.
Like any human activity, thinking can be methodically improved.
I have trained corporate leaders in various thinking tools for more than a decade and in recent years also started to give individual sessions and workshops at Aalto. This inspired me to compile a course of what I think are some of the best thinking tools out there — tools that have a sound basis in recent scientific research and that have helped me and countless others to really make the most of the way our minds work. The main criteria for choosing these thinking tools are threefold: they must be well grounded in science, they must be something I know from personal experience to work, and they must be something I know that also work for many if not most of the people who have participated in the training sessions through the years.
We don’t have a single mind — we have, in fact, at least two. Yet our society, the way we work, the way we study, is still mostly premised on the idea of us as rational thinkers and decision-makers. This could not be farther from how things really are. Research from recent decades by for example Daniel Kahneman, Jonathan Evans, Keith Stanovich, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, only to name a few, has demonstrated that where the magic happens is when we realize the full potential of our non-conscious minds.
On the course, we’ll train to use various kinds of thinking tools. Mind Management helps you clear out the brain fog caused by constant interruptions and unfinished business. Extended Mind helps you build an inspiring idea database in the cloud and leverage your environment to supercharge your thinking. Good Life tools help you clarify your core values and figure out an inspiring direction for your life. Creative Thinking tools help you generate cool new ideas and to overcome writer’s block. And finally, the Convincing Mind helps you use classical and modern argumentation tools to state your case clearly and to create mutually respectful dialogue even with someone who thinks totally opposite to you.
Great thinking is, after all, simply a matter of practice.
Sounds like a lot, huh? Frankly, it is, but the fact is that our society is still so preoccupied with the idea of the rational mind that we are overlooking so much of the real potential within our minds. Some of this potential can be unlocked by learning to use the thinking tools we study and practice on the course. Great thinking is, after all, simply a matter of practice — just like with any other skill.
Thinking Tools launches on March 8th and runs through May 5th. The current program can be found at MyCourses. Aalto students can sign up in Sisu until March 6th. I’m really looking forward to embarking on this journey to explore the wonders of our minds in the coming months.