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How Should I Think?

I once heard someone ask, “How am I supposed to think about this?”

That’s a good question.

We’re often asked what we think about something, but perhaps a more helpful question is “How are you thinking about this?”

There are more ways of thinking than we tend to imagine (imaginative thinking being one of those ways).

Here’s a partial list of types of thinking (I’ve alphabetized them using alphabetical thinking):

Abstract thinking
Alphabetical thinking
Analytical thinking
Concrete thinking
Convergent thinking
Creative thinking
Critical thinking
Deductive thinking
Divergent thinking
Evaluative thinking
Imaginative thinking
Inductive thinking
Inferential thinking
Metacognitive thinking
Metaphorical thinking
Metasyntactic thinking
Oppositional thinking
Parallel thinking
Rational thinking
Straight and crooked thinking
Strategic thinking
Systemic thinking
Teleological thinking
Visual thinking.

The next time you tell someone, “Let me think about that,” consider what ways of thinking you’ll choose.

If you go down the list in an attempt to be thorough, warn them that it’ll take some time.


John Nofsinger, an associate professor of finance at Washington State University and a speaker, writer, and scholar on behavioral finance, claims in Psychology Today that there are many decision-making activities in which it may be better to be an intuitive thinker. Other situations favor analytical thinkers.

I’m more of an intuitive thinker.

It’s my default cognitive process before the analytical kicks in.

I always know when that change happens because I can hear rusty analytical wheels grinding in my brain.

Here are a couple of exercises that will help grease those rusty gears. Take some time to test your analytical and intuitive thinking:

Part 1

Part 2

So, are you more of an analytical thinker, or are you an intuitive thinker?

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.

His books on education include Academic Leadership: Practical Wisdom for Deans and Administartors, Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).