Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.
Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?
The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t. 
Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?
Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills. 
- Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
- Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas, even if they “sound” weird or wrong, a fair chance? Or are you closed to modernity?
- Analyticity: Do you try and find and understand the reasons behind things? Are your decisions gut-based or do they have pros and cons behind them?
- Systematicity: Are you orderly in your approach of problem-solving? Do you break down a problem into parts and then tackle them one by one?
- Confidence in Reasoning: Do you always defer to other people or is your own belief more important to you? Are you confident in your own judgment and do you think that you have reasons for your confidence? Do you like to evaluate your own thinking?
- Inquisitiveness: Do you question, and question often? Are you full of curiosity?
- The Maturity of Judgment: Do you take time in reaching a conclusion or do you jump to conclusions? Do you try and analyze things from different perspectives and take other people’s experiences into account, instead of just valuing yourself above it all?
So the essential skills needed in critical thinking are analyzing, applying the standards, classifying, seeking further information, logical deduction, predictions and finally and most importantly: “transforming” the conclusions into knowledge. 
The Tools Used In Critical Thinking
Frankly, critical thinking is basically a series of tos and fros between theories or beliefs and their elimination or acceptance. From the birth of a belief to its eventual binning or acceptance, there are many a tool one can use that keep the judgment suspended till the scales of justice, science and logic list on one side.
- A Sound Argument: Much like a pros and cons list, an argument is when we present a list of whys and why nots for a belief and then reach a sound conclusion: the statement about what should be done or believed. Arguments, however, need to be proven.
- Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning often follows a set of conclusions after a sound argument; you can then, following logic, “deduce” what those conclusions now state in their entirety. Sometimes though, deductive reasoning is unable to prove something by mere logic.
- Inductive Reasoning: So when arguments and deductive reasoning refuse to provide a solution, this is where inductive reasoning steps in. Starting with eliminative and enumerative reasoning and then moving onto abductive reasoning: a logical happening that happens by “chance” but basically can be traced back to the very problem we are trying to solve. Not quite gut, but somewhere close.
How To Put Critical Thinking To Use
What have been stated above are beliefs. Now for you to put critical thinking to use, you need to internalize and channelize these theoretical principles and apply them to your daily thought processes. Be unafraid – state your opinions, ask your questions, admit to being wrong, own up to thinking that you are right, be ready to be questioned in return and lastly: know that your belief system is not infallible.
Once you start to apply critical thinking, you may end up discovering that what you believed in is actually a falsification. Chin up, cheer up and be critical. The ultimate goal or aim of critical thinking is not to break something but to build something even more awesome in place. 
Don’t be wary of being in the wrong. If all the great minds thought like that and refused to question their own theories or the one of the greats before them, the world would still be thought of as flat, with the sun revolving around it…
Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/8137944472/in/photolist-dp86ns-daCddA-daCdqW-dp7W7p-daCdcJ-daCahn-fPZ51a-7VmKUi-daCanc-daCasM-5A1b59-5AC41U-dp7Wi2-6iDT9c-59YrP5-5sTzRQ-7unjGA-7uirSx-54ZKPQ-EixX1V-Du4fYm-RJXHou-Eiy2gP-DZEA9h-Du4kZU-87VWBH-QRzUB3-8hUVRV-aksfAD-5WbiCG-bWsMy5-es2SBd-5A1b5U-7NthYi-4yjxQV-DPEZpp-59Ys6o-9bEq8v-QfdyK-5RizKx-4z24FY-4yWKu6-d9XJSe-4z23Pm-4yWLqX-8QuTjg-bBnnBF-ggBEsp-4x7MLg-4xBaCk via flickr.com
|||^||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Critical Thinking|
|||^||Insight Assessment: CCTDI|
|||^||University of Michigan: Critical Thinking Skills|
|||^||University of Hong Kong: Improving Critical Thinking|