The need to think effectively is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. As our challenges become progressively more complex, the bar for creating effective solutions needs to be raised if we wish to alleviate ourselves from our biggest burdens.
At the root, solving problems really just boils down to applying various frameworks and mental models to create a solution. As we gain experience and knowledge, we adjust our frameworks and mental models to prevent previous failures from occurring again, all while aiming to repeat previous successes.
Each framework and mental model has its own approach to solving problems. First principles allows you to tackle the root cause and work upwards, pre-post mortem allows you to fix problems before they even occur, etc. These traits determine the advantages and disadvantages of each method, defining a criteria to meet our needs.
At the end of the day, however, all these frameworks and mental models are simply applying different ways of thinking objectively to solve problems. The key difference between each approach is the way in which the given framework/mental model has chosen to accomplish said task.
Thinking objectively is the attempt to reason without any cognitive bias, logical fallacy or preconceived notions. In other words, thinking objectively is just thinking without emotion — ridding your thoughts of opinion and ego.
But this is all hypothetical. If we truly want to understand the power of thinking objectively, we need to stop looking at the macro advantages and examine the micro outcomes. Whether you realize it or not, you’re always using a framework or mental model. Every argument, decision, action and thought is sparked by some framework/mental-model. When we choose to do something, it’s because that action has some foreseeable benefit. That’s a framework in of itself.
This means that learning to think objectively is a skill — one that can completely change the way we live our day to day lives. Following this reasoning, learning to become nonreactive is the single most important skill that we can master to live better lives.
Unfortunately here lies the problem. If you hypothetically just learned that your mother passed away, or that you lost all of your life savings, it would be damn near impossible not to care. There are some things that you just can’t brush off — and that’s okay, it’s human.
But there’s a [very effective ] loophole. When we feel sad as a result of a certain event, it’s because that event breaches one of our personal values — eliciting an emotional response. If you value honesty, you’ll be upset when a close friend lies to you. If you value loyalty, you’ll be upset when a close friend betrays you.
As I said previously, there’s some things you simply cannot brush off — but you can change what you care about. For example, in the pursuit of becoming a wiser decision maker, you might choose to work on reducing your ego. If this is an issue that you face, changing your personal value of “ always being right” could tremendously assist you in your journey.
You don’t need to become nonreactive in order to attain nonreactivity. You don’t need to stop caring at all — you simply need to shift your attention to more important matters.