THINKING THINGS THROUGH: Critical Thinking and More …

By Chris Wagner
Because of an extra helping of stress that affected my health and well-being, I’ve been absent from the Pioneer. I’ve missed writing, but feel much better now and am going to share some of the topics that flowed through my mind over the last two months.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: And we’ve missed you … and your insightful views that help us all to think things through. Thank you Chris Wagner for sharing your knowledge and experience about often difficult, but also delightful, topics. Perfect timing for the first full day of Spring to help us all grow and bloom.)

Sense of Wonder
Recently a friend visited me and brought along her two young grandsons. Right away I could see they were engaged in the present moment; interested and curious. The term sense of wonder came to mind. Finding and holding onto a sense of wonder can open many doors. It can lead to adventure, new understanding and feeling like anything is possible. I’ve always felt lucky to have this, even discovering wonder in the smallest thing. Now that I don’t get out much, memories of double rainbows, road trips with friends and street parties in Mexico remind me to keep the wonder alive.

Discernment is about using sound judgment, especially with the decisions we make. Does this choice reflect my values? Have I considered the consequences of a life-changing decision? How does the way I spend my time and with whom make me feel? I used to make impulsive decisions that often brought about unintended consequences. Fortunately I learned from these experiences and made discernment a habit. What concerns me these days is how children learn how to deal with the tremendous amount of choice they’re exposed to.

Living in Gratitude
I always understood the value of appreciation, but when I first heard this term, it occurred to me that it was something quite different. So I immersed myself in paying attention to what was working in my life and several things happened. There was much less of taking things for granted. Easily I adapted a workable way of living simply and the concept of less is more showed me that it’s not about quantity, but quality. I’ve found more peace in honoring the small moments.

Integrity is literally the integration of one’s value system and moral code with his or her actions. It has to do with taking the higher road, of being honest, keeping promises and stepping up to responsibility. This is not always easy, but definitely, worthwhile. Integrity is another word for respect; for ourselves, for others and for the world around us.

Critical Thinking
Because much of our thinking is influenced by perception – our view of the world, it’s easy to see things in terms of black/white, right/wrong etc. But there are so many shades of gray and this is where reality lives. So in order to understand a situation or solve a problem, one must take an objective view and examine all sides or causes. Problem solving is a very effective process for the inevitable challenges life presents us with. When the causes and not just the symptoms of a problem are realized, then solutions become apparent. I truly believe that all problems have solutions and if we’re willing to look at them without bias, answers will appear.