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The Art of Clear Thinking- Mental Models for Better Decision Making by Patrick King

How can you adapt to clear thinking in an intentional manner? This is a simple question and one may be tempted to jeer at it. However, the truth is that the human mind is quite fallible and we often don’t think clearly. 

In today’s cluttered world where we are bombarded with conflicting information from all sides, where projecting a specific image of yourself and living up to it is almost social media necessity, where opinions and facts comfortably merge, how can one think clearly? Or rather, can one think clearly? The Art of Clear Thinking- Mental Models for Better Decision Making by Patrick King (Published by Jaico Books) brings to you simple and practical suggestions on thinking clearly. These are based on a reliable body of research. As a social interaction specialist, King brings a unique viewpoint to this simple read. 

I found it fascinating to read about how our ego uses its weapons quite subtly to hamper us from clear thinking, and protecting its own fragility instead. King uses research from psychology in order to present and explain his points. 

I recall a professor back in my college days who used to tell us in class, “Human beings are cognitive misers”. True enough, on reading this book there is a validation of this statement. We rely on schemas and heuristics; on preconceived notions; we act out of the desire to protect the image of ourselves that we have painstakingly crafted; we are victims of cognitive biases; fallibility of memory and we constantly employ a whole set of defence mechanisms. 

All these factors prevent us from objective and scientific thinking. They lead us to compromise accuracy for speed. They lead to conclusions that are not objective and that are not scientifically drawn. This book draws our attention to such issues and offers suggestions on how to think clearly.

The takeaways at the end of the chapter are quite useful and serve as a ready reckoner. These will be especially helpful when you want to come back to the book in the future just to refresh your thoughts. 

The Art of Clear Thinking invites you to take a deep journey within yourself. It could be brutally honest in a gentle way. It’s a very simple and lucid read. However, I would recommend you take your time with it and read the book intentionally, trying to apply the thoughts and ideas presented therein to your unique situation.  It would help keeping a journal and looking at some of your problems, thoughts and assumptions through the prism of the principles and strategies outlined in this book. 

Implementing the art of clear thinking in day to day life

The Art of Clear Thinking also outlines some strategies that one can adopt to fight many of these psychological barriers to clear thinking. These strategies appear in the different chapters. King also looks at some great thinkers in the world and the specific strategies they have used in their thinking. For example, on reading about Elton Musk’s application of First Principles Thinking, you’ll be inspired to apply the same to your life. Does Descartes’s approach to the scientific method hold any lessons for your life? Read to find out! 

If you are a person who wants to imbue absolute honestly and clarity of thought, The Art of Clear Thinking is definitely worth your time and attention. Clearly, clear thinking is an art as much as it is a science. 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a Counselling Psychologist and a freelance writer. She is the Founder of Bookedforlife.