Creative and Critical Thinking

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja (with lots of creative inputs by Asha)

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Creative and Critical Thinking

Critical thinking does not mean criticism or being judgemental.

We all go through a series of experiences, emotions, situations, but each of us deal with them differently. All of these situations need us to find solutions and we have to think logically, figure out the answer, think of the pros and cons and focus on the most suitable answer, and this thinking is called critical thinking.

Critical thinking  predominantly uses the left brain, is analytically, focused, objective, reasoning and judgment. This thinking helps one look for the most suitable answer . It has  more to do with understanding the problem/issue itself rather than the solution.

We do critical thinking as something unexpected happens and gives rise to a sense of inner- discomfort and confusion in us and we feel the need to identify and clarify the concern.  We search for ways to explain what is happening, and select ideas that according to us seem most satisfactory and act on these ideas.

A lot of the critical thinking that we do is based on the beliefs, values, and the social rules that we believe in.

Skills required to empower ourselves with critical thinking capacities:

  • Analyzing-break the issue into smaller parts
  • Run the issue through our beliefs, values etc
  • Seek information and apply to the issue on hand(Brainstorming, Group discussions, reading about the issue)
  • Think logically about the outcome of the various pros and consequences

As we are dealing with an issue and are thinking of the various pro and cons available to us there are times when feel that we don't seem to be making much headway, and seem to be stuck in the same place, cause our choices are based on old opinions, fixed ideas, and blocks in our mind. It is here when the analyzing is being done that we need to have the ability to think in terms of the context of the situation, be objective, and believe in ourselves, have perseverance, and have the capacity to be reflective. Our  being flexible, creative, intuitive, and inquisitive and open minded makes this Critical thinking effective, and all these latter traits make us so much more creative and help us think of alternates to the solutions.

Creative thinking is an ability, attitude, and a process.

Nature has built-in creative thinking into every human being. It has given us distinct skills that make us different from everyone else. You too have been blessed with substantial creative ability by your Creator. Just look at how creative children are. In adults, creativity has too often been suppressed through education, but it is still there and can be reawakened. Keep in mind that creative thinking is not restricted to art, design etc. You can be creative in each and every activity that you take up in your day to day life.

Thinking out of the box: the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. Some creative ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple, good, practical ideas that no one seems to have thought of yet. Often all that's needed to be creative is to make a commitment to creativity and to take the time for it.

As children we are all capable of thinking out-of- the-box, then why is it that as we grow we stop? Reasons could be any of these blocks that we put in our mind as we grow up ….

“Oh no it is a problem”, “it can’t be done”, “I can’t do anything about it”, “I am not creative”, “that is being childish”, “what will people think?”

Example:How to divide a piece of cake equally between your two kids so they won't complain that one kid is preferred over the other: "You gave him the bigger piece; you like him better! Waaaah!"

Solution: Put the kids in charge of dividing the cake. Our prejudice is that immature, selfish kids can't do the job. But the solution, one cuts the cake, the other has first choice of pieces, works very well.

Some food for thought:

  1. You go to a social gathering, get-together and are given a glass of fruit juice which is very sweet. What do you do?
  2. You are doing a routine task, or studying a boring subject and your concentration is slipping. What would you do?
  3. Have to reach a destination and there are four routes to choose from. How do you choose and what thinking process do you use?

Characteristics of a Creative Person

  • curious
  • seeks problems
  • enjoys challenges
  • able to suspend judgment
  • comfortable with imagination
  • optimistic, sees problems as opportunities
  • sees problems as interesting
  • problems are emotionally acceptable
  • challenges assumptions and precedents
  • doesn't give up easily: perseveres, works hard
  • is a healthy mixture of opposites in personality, e.g. Can be smart, yet naïve and child-like, shows signs of playfulness and discipline, be rebellious and independent.

Check how many of these qualities you have in you & how many you can develop,

List of a few “Mental Blocks” to creative thinking

  1. Trying to Find the “Right” Answer
  2. Logical Thinking, overruling instinct, gut feeling
  3. Following Rules to the letter of the law, instead of spirit of the law
  4. Being too practical
  5. Presuming that play (what you enjoy) is not Work
  6. “That’s Not My Job” attitude
  7. Being too “Serious” a person, giving too much importance to yourself
  8. Avoiding Ambiguity, thinking only in “black and white”
  9. Belief that “Being Wrong is Bad”
  10. Giving up by saying “I’m Not Creative.”

Work on overcoming any of these if you have developed them. Take feedback

Ways of improving Creative Thinking capacities:

  • keep track of all new ideas that come to your mind, note them down
  • develop the attitude of having a curious mind and an inquiring mind, have a child-like mind
  • develop and cultivate hobbies, connect to nature and observe your surrounding
  • be self-aware, know your strengths and weaknesses
  • try to understand things that might not be important to you now, or not of much relevance
  • be flexible and open to new ideas
  • be alert to look for similarities, differences and the unique features
  • adopt a risk taking attitude
  • develop a Sense of Humour

Isn’t he Creative?

In a city, all the houses were given identical rubbish bins for garbage disposal. On each street, a collector would jump off from the truck, get the full bin and empty it in the truck, then take empty bin and put it back.

One intelligent man started the routine of jumping off with an empty bin, bringing the full one back, unloading it and keeping it in the truck, and moving on. Thus he saved one trip up and down to the compound.


Think of all the creative, unusual, non-conformist activities you used to do when you were a child (without wondering what others will think). Out of that list, tick off how many you would be willing to do at least once now? If you are unwilling to do at least half of them, then be aware that you may have suppressed your creativity, and this in turn will affect your work as an adult in various spheres. Doing “child-like” things is not the same as being “childish.” But being child-like can sharpen your mind and give you the ability to do lateral thinking (i.e. move sideways to progress ahead), create reality out of abstract issues, and surmount difficulties with solutions that would not have occurred to others. Best of luck !

Don’t just read these notes and try to mug them up. Look at the points critically, then be creative to make your own definitions and ideas. Be thankful that you have been given the ability to even read this and make your own creative/critical decisions. Utilize your talents and make the most of them, not only for your own sake, but also for the benefit of your family, friends, and everyone else. Enjoy the journey !

About the author

This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
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Except where otherwise noted, the Content of the Website of Banjara Academy - the text, the audios, the videos, the images - contributed by Dr Ali Khwaja and his team of volunteers at Banjara Academy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.