Think like a scientist and be happier
So… How does a scientist think? In a nutshell, scientists only draw conclusions based on FACTS that are proven to be true.
We often make decisions about people, ourselves, and our course of action based on complicated, unexplored emotions and empty speculations. A lot of this happens subconsciously. We can bring these processes out of the subconscious and make better decisions if we use some mental tools that scientists use everyday in their line of work. Here’s a few ways using the scientific method can improve your life:
1. Acknowledge a problem and decide to solve it.
A lot of times we don’t tackle a problem we have because we don’t know how to solve it. We THINK we don’t know how to solve it, so we don’t even try. Usually, once you decide to solve a problem and think about it for a little while, you find that the problem is not as scary as you initially thought it was, and also not as difficult to solve. If it IS difficult to solve, it can be a load off of your shoulders to breakdown all of the parts you need to look at in order to solve it. It is a huge relief to UNDERSTAND a problem, even if you don’t know how to solve it.
2) Being able to distinguish knowledge from emotions.
To solve certain obstacles, you need figure out how you feel about something (as in a relationship). Other problems are better solved without emotions (like how much you should quote for a project you are budgeting). It’s good to have the ability to distinguish between emotional interests and facts. One is not more important than the other, but often they are bound up together and indistinguishable. Being able to separate them helps you solve obstacles.
3) Identify and admit when you DO NOT know something.
Not knowing things is perfectly ok. It’s great, even. A lot of power and knowledge can be gained from being upfront about what is beyond you. The quicker you can acknowledge that you do not know something, the quicker you can be on the path to learning that same thing… or not learning it if you choose. Knowing that you don’t know something is honest, and honesty makes for a clearer mind.
4) If a problem solving method doesn’t work, try it again differently.
The scientific method establishes a routine of problem solving. If you get to the end of a problem solving process and it didn’t get solved… try it again! You’re actions the next time around will be better informed and you will have learned something. Science establishes a mindset for continual, energized problem solving. Life will continually serve you issues to solve, so it’s the perfect pairing!
A story from space:
I will conclude with a wonderful story from the Col. Chris Hadfield book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth that embodies all of the above points:
On one of his missions aboard the International Space Station, Chris and his crew of two were abruptly awoken in the middle of their sleep by an alarm system on the ship. The specific alarm was usually activated if there is a fire or structural damage to the ship, both of which could be catastrophically BAD for the safety of the crew. Being awaken by such an alarm would certainly trigger immediate fear and panic in many people. Scientific thinking, allows its user the choice to side step this emotional auto-response and function more wisely, allowing one to make better important decisions quickly. The first question they asked was not “Are we going to die?!” but “What are the possible causes for the alarm to sound?”
The 3 drowsy astronauts immediately rose out of bed to investigate the cause of the alarm…. all 3 crew members were completely calm- no one became anxious, nervous, or forecasted certain doom. Astronauts are trained to ‘work the problem’ and remain centered and focused on the task at hand, no matter the severity or uncertainty of the issue in front of them. The astronauts sat down and immediately got to work, checking all the computer systems, and monitoring the modules of the space craft. After a thorough investigation of all possible causes for the alarm, they discovered that a short circuit had caused a false alarm.
We are emotional beings afloat in world of mystery and the quantifiable… thinking like a scientist can help with both