We have access to more information now than ever before. But unfortunately, this comes with a price.
Fake news and misinformation spread around the world because of people not willing to do their own thinking and research.
It’s what causes mass misunderstanding and conflict among communities, even countries.
Because of this, learning to think for oneself has now become essential for being a responsible citizen.
Being an independent thinker doesn’t mean being a radical, however. It can simply be double-checking to see if the cited source was credible or not.
Here are 12 more traits that independent thinkers share to help you cultivate the skill of thinking for yourself.
1. They Arrive At Their Own Conclusions
When we’re scrolling through our social media feeds, we often see family members and friends sharing dubious articles only because of the exciting headline.
The fact that people share articles with crazy headlines shows that thinking for oneself — actually digging deeper and reading the article before sharing it to verify its validity– has begun to feel like too much effort.
Independent thinkers, on the other hand, aren’t quick to accept just anything that’s presented in front of them.
They read past the headline to form their own opinions on something.
When other people hate a movie, they don’t hop on the bandwagon to hate it too.
They sit down to watch it and judge it themselves
2. They Read Widely
The way that social media algorithms are set up now is that it promotes content that it knows that you agree with and like.
What happens is that people begin developing narrow worldviews — one that always agrees with their beliefs.
When they come across a video showing how good a politician is, and they agree with it, the platform is going to keep showing positive videos of that politician — even though it’s almost always just one side of the politician’s story.
This phenomenon leads to people making voting choices based solely on the content that is fed to them, rather than their own research on the matter.
Independent thinkers do their own research and consume broadly. They seek to understand contradicting ideas to develop a clearer perspective of the world around them.
3. They Don’t Do Something “Just Because”
As kids, our parents might’ve forbidden us from doing something “just because they said so” This promotes the habit of blindly following authority figures without question.
In fact, it makes questioning authority seem disrespectful in some households — when someone simply wants to learn more about why they aren’t allowed to do something.
Independent thinkers, on the other hand, need good reasons and evidence for something before they choose to do it.
They won’t accept an order “just because” If they’re told to come back home by a certain time, they need to understand why (it might be dangerous at night, for instance), and not simply because someone with power commanded them to.
4. They Don’t Care What People Think Of Them
Voicing an original thought can be daunting. It can make someone vulnerable to attack and getting outcasted from the majority of people.
But, while others want to play it safe, independent thinkers understand that coming up with their own ideas is one of the best ways to develop innovation and make change.
Others may call independent thinkers fools or lunatics; who would be crazy enough to go against the norm?
But they don’t care. As Steve Jobs said: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
When the workplace has become toxic, they’re the ones to call it out — regardless if they’re met with indifference or disagreements. They would rather do the right thing than do nothing.
Actually, lone wolfs don’t care what people think of them. If you think you might be a lone wolf, then you might relate to the below video we created.
5. They Prefer The Facts
Brands tend to exaggerate the value of their products, like smartphones, tacking on exorbitant prices.
People still buy it, however, in the name of improving their social status, regardless of how slowly the smartphone may actually perform.
Independent thinkers would rather look at the hard facts of devices — how fast it actually is, the quality of the camera, and how much lower it might cost — as opposed to following the hype of expensive tech.
By arriving at their own conclusions, they’re able to buy a device that meets their needs while also saving a good amount of money.
They don’t buy into fads and are more open to alternative solutions to their problems.
6. They Cite Sources And Validate Information
False information can spread faster than wildfires thanks to how much more well connected we are today than before.
The abundance of information and influencers posing as credible sources can be confusing for those not willing to put in the effort to do background checks on all of them.
In just a few taps, anyone can post false information and get it to go viral.
When someone shares a news article with an attention-grabbing headline, independent thinkers aren’t quick to reshare it with their own opinions.
Instead, they visit sources that have proven track records of being trustworthy — established organizations or first-hand accounts — to verify if something is actually true and therefore worth sharing.
7. They Think Outside The Box
Often, people tend to follow along with what they’re being told and what others believe because they’re afraid of standing out being the odd one in the bunch.
What this does, however, is limit creativity and originality.
While all their creative ideas may not be good, their willingness to go beyond conventional wisdom and spark fresh ideas becomes a welcome addition to any brainstorming session.
To an independent thinker, there’s always a better alternative out there.
8. They’re Confident In Themselves
Imagine a chef who challenges the manager in saying that a certain meal is better to be served over another.
As independent thinkers, they’re willing to gamble with the chance to be right because they trust their instincts and their beliefs.
Independent thinkers aren’t afraid of being wrong. When they realize that they ultimately made a mistake, they’re able to understand and learn from it.
9. They Can Play Devil’s Advocate
When a group of friends discuss ideas for coming up with a business, it’s the independent thinker that says the reasons why it might fail.
They aren’t trying to be discouraging, they’re trying to be objective about the decision.
They play the devil’s advocate with sincerity to help others strengthen their own ideas.
When they learn the reasons why the business might fail, they’ll be better prepared to address those concerns and avoid such crises.
Playing devil’s advocate takes having an open mind and being unbiased — both traits that independent thinkers possess.
10. They’re Self-Aware
Often, people follow a career that they’ve been told would bring them the most success, like law or medicine, disregarding how they feel.
While others might simply obey the whims of concerned parents, independent thinkers question their own decisions and ask themselves, “Why am I really doing this? Do I actually enjoy what I’m doing or am I looking for my parents’ approval of me?”
Independent thinkers are often deeply reflective and introspective.
They question their beliefs to find what is truly important to them, giving them the knowledge of how they want to live a meaningful life.
11. They Always Ask Questions
Asking questions is what gets independent thinkers in trouble the most.
They wonder why their salaries don’t seem to be matching the amount of business that their company continuously gets.
When they read a passage in a book that they’re bothered by, they ask how the author came to such a conclusion.
When they’re told that the price of a service is a certain amount, they ask why it costs that much.
Independent thinkers don’t simply accept everything at face value. They have a perpetual need to find acceptable reasons for what they do and what they encounter.
12. They Avoid Labelling And Stereotyping
People often prejudice other people simply because of how they look or where they came from. These continue causing conflicts not just in larger communities but in places as small as offices or schools.
Independent thinkers stop themselves from labeling someone or stereotyping them and treating them differently.
Since they form their own judgments and opinions about people, they can be more welcoming to a diverse range of people.
They treat everyone with the same level of respect that they each deserve.
If someone doesn’t learn how to think for themselves, other people are going to direct their thoughts — often for worse.
They’ll be persuaded to buy every product and agree to every favor. They’ll be sharing each story they come across that sounds convincing, regardless if it has tenable arguments.
When that happens, they become susceptible to passing along false information, whether that be the death of a celebrity or the effectiveness of a drug.
When we learn to think for ourselves, to stop believing just about anything, we become responsible citizens.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.
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