“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford

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Thinking requires effort and in a world where every thing is just a click away, it’s no wonder that so many people would indulge in instant gratification rather than take time to engage in impactful thinking. Why bother with thinking when one can scroll endlessly through social media feed and Tik Tok videos? I mean let’s be real, who has time to sit down and ponder the mysteries of the universe when there are new episodes of your favorite shows to binge-watch?

In fact thinking can be exhausting. It requires concentration, mental energy and the willingness to question one’s own beliefs and assumptions. Let’s not forget that thinking also requires a certain type of intelligence, not every person has the ability to come up with coherent thoughts or ideas, and the effort required to do so can be overwhelming but not impossible.

What Is Thinking?

Psychologist define thinking as a cognitive process that involves mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, problem solving to generate new ideas, form judgements, and make decisions. Thinking can be broadly divided into two categories, controlled thinking which is slower and effortful and automatic thinking which is fast, effortless and largely unconscious. Then there is divergent and convergent thinking. A person who thinks divergently will be able to generate multiple solutions or ideas to a single problem where as a person who thinks convergently will focus on one single solution or idea that is the most logic or efficient.

Another important aspect of thinking is metacognition, it refers to our ability to monitor and control our own thinking process. It includes our ability to recognize when we don’t know about something, self evaluating our own thinking and problem solving strategies and also being able to adjust our thinking as needed. For example metacognition practices have shown to increase a student’s ability to transfer or adapt their learning to new concepts and tasks fast by gaining a level of awareness about their subject matter. So if you want to simply put it metacognition is thinking about one’s own thinking.

How to develop the habit of thinking fast?

Make minor unimportant decisions fast : For example, challenge yourself to choose your next meal in less than a minute, or when you go to a clothing store decide that you would buy what you want in half an hour and leave the store.

Practice doing the things you are good at faster: If you are an artist decide that you will finish a painting in 2 hours. See how fast you can do the things you are good at and take it as a challenge.

Practice meditation: There are many benefits to practicing meditation on a daily basis. It calms our body and mind and also build a more efficient brain by stimulating the formation of new brain cells and neural connection. Meditation also helps strengthen the communication between the brain cells which in turn speeds up mental processes such as the ability to think, learn and concentrate.

Stop multitasking there are many researches that suggest that it is less efficient to multitask. This is because multitasking can interfere with our working memory, reduce our concentration on each task hinder our performance and increase the time that we take to do each task. So watching TV when doing your homework may not be a good idea after all.

Being someone who likes to take time with thinking and making decision in not always a bad trait to have but there are situations where fast thinking and decision making can lead to a number of advantages like being able to do your work faster and avoid procrastination or it can help you seem smarter, confident and help you feel comfortable around others without the feeling of being left out. Even though there are genetical factors and natural talent that can make some people faster thinkers than others, there are plenty of ways to improve your thinking speed. But always remember that it won’t happen overnight, but with a little bit of effort and daily practice fast thinking is a skill that everyone can develop.