Critical Thinking

Yesterday, NPR reposted a story to their facebook page from 2014. The article title was: Why doesn’t America read anymore?

If you clicked through to read the article, it wished you a happy April Fool’s Day and explained that they wanted to see how many people actually read the stories vs how many people just commented based on the title alone.

It asked that the people who clicked through not mention it in the comments. And of course, the post had been filled with comments from people arguing with the title of the post, as if it were true.

The person who reposted it on my feed said something along the lines of “April 1st, the one day of the year that people look at every news article critically before believing it.”

In my third attempt at college, I had to take an English course called “Critical Thinking.” It taught us logical fallacies and explained that you can’t just take everything you read for granted. That’s the class where you have to write a lot of argumentative and persuasive essays

And, despite my never having actually finished my degree in creative writing, I can say that I probably took more away from that class than any other in my very long and unfinished college career.

I think very critically whenever I read or hear anything. I don’t mean “critically” in the sense of “negatively”…I mean it in the sense of wondering what the authors’ bias or purpose is, trying to asses any logical fallacies, and engaging my ability to question things and form my own opinions, rather using “chameleon thinking” and automagically buying everything I read.

We’re taught how to do this from a young age. We’re told not to talk to strangers. We learn about heroes who affected positive social change in the world by questioning authority. Especially here in “America,” where we are spoon fed the ideals of critical thinking as soon as we are taught the words “We, the people.”

It’s no wonder that I read so many accounts of people here and in “real” life who say they have trouble accepting a compliment. “I don’t know what to say,” say some. “I don’t think of myself that way,” say others.

It’s taking “critical” thinking and turning it into “self-critical” thinking.

I get this. I used to feel like being paid a compliment was like accepting charity. You tell me I look gorgeous and I might tell you that it’s hair dye, makeup, and a little photo editing, or camera angles and great support undergarments.

What I’m doing might seem like I’m trying to deny that I’m anything special because I don’t want you to feel obligated to compliment me.

But, I make my bread and butter asking people to give to charity. I don’t want them to feelobligated to give. I want them to feel like they are privileged to be part of something great.

When I deny a donor the opportunity to fund research that might help cure their husband or wife, what I’m really doing is taking away their option to do something they want to do.

I’ve worked with friends in the past and have heard many more who have been practicing on saying “thank you,” upon receiving a compliment. Just “thank you.” No rationalizations. No excuses. Just gratitude.

I was speaking with a friend about this recently. “What do you say when he tells you you’re gorgeous?” I asked.

“I’ve been working on just saying ‘thank you,'” she answered.

“Are you ready to level up?” I asked.

Because I’ve taken this whole accepting a compliment thing to the next level.

Are you ready for it?

When someone you love, when the person in your life that makes your nether bits react tells you something flattering, try setting that self-critical thinking aside and say this:

I believe you.

I’ve been doing it. He can tell you that I do it. When he tells me he loves me or that I’m beautiful or that he enjoys spending time with me.

I believe you.

It’s only a matter of time before you might start believing it in yourself.


Please note – It’s probably best continue to employ CRITICAL thinking (not self-critical thinking) when you are establishing a relationship with someone new. We all know there are people out there who are not as intimately associated with honesty as others. But, once you have decided to trust someone….

Trust them.

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