Pause for a Few Seconds Before You Act
Are you the type of person that blurts out an answer as soon as someone asks you a question?
If you don’t find the answer to your question instantly, do you look deeper, change your approach, or move on, assuming there is no answer?
Do you reply to emails like you’re being timed to see how long it takes for you to respond?
A better approach is to slow down, relax, breathe, and give your brain the time to process the answer for you.
The Speed of Thought
Here’s something I found interesting. Your brain works extremely fast. To give you a comparison, thoughts are processed at speeds 156-270 miles per hour. Imagine driving a car at that speed—any slight movement of the steering wheel can cause you to lose control and crash.
When your thoughts are traveling at high speed, it’s easy to get off topic. Your brain isn’t processing one thought at a time. It’s processing multiple thoughts at once. Many ideas are going through your mind at a speed of 156-270 mph; there’s a lot of brainpower taking place that you are probably not aware of.
The Speed of Retrieval
Here’s another interesting point. At times when I ask myself a question, I want the answer instantaneously. I may ask, what was the name of the guy in Tech class that had the 1970 Ford Mustang? Expecting an instant answer. Well, for me, that happened over 40 years ago, so my brain must sort through years of data to give me the answer.
If I’m relaxed and not anxious for the answer, the answer usually comes to me within a few seconds.
At other times, when it doesn’t come to me in a few seconds, I’ll forget about it and it comes to me when I least expect it. When you think about the power of your mind to retrieve information, it’s amazing.
Instantaneous VS a Few Seconds
So, the whole point of this article comes down the point of waiting a few extra seconds. Those few seconds are all it takes to keep from blurting out the first thing that comes to mind vs. giving your brain the time to process.
It’s those few extra seconds that keep you endlessly skipping from one thing to the next.
You’re running late, about to walk out the door, and you can’t find your keys.
Your thoughts go like this:
- Did I leave them at the office? No, of course not—how did I get home?
- Did one of my kids take the car? No. They are still sleeping.
- Did I throw them out by accident when I cleaned out my drawer? Hmm…I wonder?
- Ahh—my wife took them; that’s it—let me ask her—No, wait— she’s sleeping too.
- I left them in the car. No—then how did I get in the house?
- Where are they? I need them!!
…Mild panic attack
- Oh, …here they are in my coat pocket.
The above example shows how your thoughts may take you all over the place. Instead, slow down, breathe, and allow your mind to give you the answer.
In this example, you are having a conversation with your boss, and you blurt out an answer before thinking.
Your boss asks you how much over budget did we go over last month?
You: We were close.
Your Boss: Were we under or over?
You: We were under a bit.
Your Boss: How much is a bit?
You: Let me Check.
A Better Response:
Your boss asks you how much we went over budget last month.
You: Give me a few minutes to look at the budget and give you an accurate number.
In the earlier example, responses to the questions are a bit reckless, while the second example shows that you are precise.
This simple technique of slowing down when you’re writing an email, answering a question, or looking for an answer, gives you a few seconds to let your brain do its work.
What’s the use of having a quick answer if it’s wrong?
In addition to the examples above, I wanted to include some resources to give you information that can improve the way you think.
When you control the way you think, you control your life, and when you control your life, you’ll live it the way you want!
Have a look at the sections included in this post to improve your thinking skills.
Critical Thinking Skills
In this section, you’ll find a collection of webpages that can help you understand and use critical thinking to your advantage. Once you learn this skill, practice it, and start to use it regularly, you’ll have it for the rest of your life. An ability like this is definitely something worth having.
Have a look at the selected web pages I have chosen that can get you started using a skill that can improve your life starting today.
Critical Thinking Examples
I like to learn by example; many times, I’ll look at the examples and then get into the details. This section provides examples of critical thinking that I have found interesting. Have a look for yourself.
Courses Related to Critical Thinking
Books Related to Critical Thinking
The Latest about Critical Thinking
In this section, you’ll be able to stay up to date on the latest related to critical thinking, including the latest news, Google searches, videos, what people are tweeting, and more.