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36 Ways Of Thinking

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Ways of thinking are mindsets and approaches that individuals use to form ideas, opinions, decisions and actions. These can be adopted naturally as part of the character and tendencies of an individual. Ways of thinking can also be consciously adopted over time or temporarily used to solve a particular problem. The following are common ways of thinking.

Magical Thinking

Imagining that things will happen without any reason. For example, a CEO who imagines an AI system will solve a bunch of problems without being able to explain why or how in any comprehensible way.


Biases are patterns of failed logic. For example, the illusion of asymmetric insight whereby you believe you understand others better than they understand you.

Motivated Reasoning

Finding evidence and forming arguments for what you want to believe.


Evaluating evidence in a detached way without letting your worldview or motivation change your analysis.

Analytical Thinking

The process of breaking things down into parts to understand them. For example, looking at sales data to understand which products, regions and customers are driving a decline in revenue.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a broad and non-specific term for systematic, methodical and objective thinking.


Emotions are states of mind that color all thought. For example, thinking in a negative way because you feel melancholic.


The ability to think in ways that differ from physical reality. A basic feature of human thought that is the key to creativity.

Counterfactural Thinking

Counterfactual thinking is the process of temporarily imagining that facts aren't facts in order to find new ideas. For example, imagining how energy would be if fossil fuels didn't exist.


A state of mind that focuses on positive traits and potential.


A state of mind that focuses on negative traits and risk.

Defensive Pessimism

Defensive pessimism is the practice of using optimism to generate ideas and pessimism to validate them.


The view that ideas create the world. Focuses on the intangible such as social constructs.


The view that only things that can be physically observed and measured are real. Focuses on the tangible.


Pragmatism is the view that things both tangible and intangible are real if they are real for practical purposes. For example, the view that love is real because people commonly say they've experienced it.

Practical Thinking

Focusing on those aspects of a problem that are within your control or ability to influence. Practical thinking also implies that you seek the most reasonable solution to a problem without allowing perfectionism to get in the way.

Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking seeks a solution to a problem with a known correct answer. For example, solving a math problem.

Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking seeks a reasonable answer to a problem with no authoritative solution. For example, trying to think of a new business model that will be profitable.

Speculative Reasoning

The ability to make a reasonable guess or prediction where information is missing.

Systems Thinking

Thinking through the possible consequences of change to complex systems such as a society, culture, organization, economy or ecosystem.


Thinking so much that your efforts have a negative practical effect such as wasting time, missing a window of opportunity or impacting your quality of life with negative thoughts.


Intuition is the ability to know something without conscious thought. Ancient Greeks, including the likes of Socrates and Plato viewed this as a connection to a universal and timeless force. Intuition is now thought to be a process of unconscious thought.


The process of examining your own thought, emotions and character.

Design Thinking

Using the process of design whereby you create new things to solve problems and make decisions.


Thinking with concepts that differ from physical reality. Most words are abstractions and humans often think in words such that much human thinking is abstract.

Verbal Reasoning

The process of thinking in words. Language is a basis for human intelligence. As such, learning a second language can expand your pool of concepts that can be used to solve problems.

Visual Thinking

Thinking in pictures including pictures that you draw and those you can visualize with your mind's eye.

Rational Thinking

Reasoned thinking that makes use of informal logic.

Cold Logic

Using logic as an excuse to ignore complexities such as the human condition.


A state of uninterrupted concentration that is important to thinking productivity.

Free Expression

Letting your ideas flow out without restraint. For example, brainstorming or painting without holding back for fear of criticism.

Big Picture Thinking

The process of challenging your most basic assumptions.

Win-win Thinking

Approaching things in a collaborative way that produces value for everyone.

Win-lose Thinking

Approaching things in a competitive way by trying to win at the expense of others.


The ability to view the absurdities of life as a source of joy.


The ability to respond quickly and intelligently in social situations.
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Ways Of Thinking

This is the complete list of articles we have written about ways of thinking.
Life Is Fair
Positive Bias
Quality Of Life
Ways Of Thinking
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