It’s OK To Slow Down “Fast Thinking” : 6 Benefits Of Slow Thinking
If you see two different routes – one with hardly any traffic lights and one with at least 2-5 traffic lights – to reach the same destination, which route would you choose? The fast (with no stops) or the slow one (with at least 2-3 stops)?
Of course, we’ll choose the fast one. That’s how the human mind is wired. We believe that taking shortcuts and deciding quickly can benefit us and in some ways, it does too! I mean, when you’re in immediate danger, your fast thinking is an act of survival.
However, in this busy lifestyle that we lead, we often feel pressured to make quick decisions that involve other people as well as meet our needs too. This urgency of fast thinking often lowers the many benefits of slow thinking.
Slow thinking and thinking fast are the two ways one makes decisions and you can use each type of thinking to your advantage depending on the situation. I am not saying that one thinking has more advantages than the other, no. But, that takes a back seat when in today’s world, speed weighs more than being slow.
Below, let’s explore the differences between fast thinking and slow thinking, and what are the many benefits of slow thinking.
Fast vs. Slow Thinking
To be honest, if I say someone is a fast thinker, what’s the first thing you’ll think of them? Intelligent? Smart? Witty? Well, that’s what we’ve learned to associate thinking fast with. Thinking fast doesn’t always mean that the decision will be the right one. Intuition plays a major role in decision-making and even the thinking process.
Decisions made on the spot can be good but we often fail to understand the value of the slow thinking process.
Did you know that our minds are made up of two systems? System 1 and System 2? Well, System 1 is responsible for our quick thinking. It relies on instinct and emotional action. This system is connected to our survival mode and thanks to System 1, we are quick to respond to any threats.
System 2, on the other hand, is responsible for our slow thinking. It relies on logic, rationality, a controlled effort, and of course, time. For example, when you’re doing calculations, you use the second system. And while both systems are important to our thinking process, they can also cause some conflicts.
The second system focuses our attention on mental functions that need a conscious effort such as calculating complex numbers. This system needs focus, conscious attention, energy, and effort.
Some examples of where the slow thinking process works can be:
- Waiting for the traffic lights to change
- Finding a good book to read
- Comparing two products to choose from
- Observing an action in a social interaction
- Listening to someone’s voice amidst the noise
To successfully carry out these actions, we need to have a conscious awareness and focus it on the object or action.
Benefits Of Slow Thinking
1. Helps You Reflect On Your Circumstances
When you think slowly, you process information slowly. Slow thinking can help you better reflect on your circumstances, any problems you’re facing, and their potential solutions. Slow thinking can also help you carefully ponder the consequences of your actions. With a slow thinking process, you can compare and visualize the outcome of your choices.
2. Helps With Complex Calculations
While System 1 (fast thinking) can help you with basic calculations, it can’t be as effective when it comes to helping with complex calculations or questions that require reasoning or deeper analysis. Quick thinking may offer an automatic or fast solution but there is hardly a guarantee that it will be the right one.
3. Helps Correct Errors
When you want to correct errors, you need conscious attention, the kind that helps you figure out the problem first. Later, with the help of system 2 (slow thinking), you can use your mental faculties to adjust the errors while making a detailed analysis of the mistake.
To fix your mistakes, you need to think about the task you’re doing and the steps you’re taking during the process. Slow thinking can help achieve that.
4. Helps Make Conscious Decisions
Slow thinking can also help you make conscious decisions. Fast thinking doesn’t allow you to make deliberate decisions and also doesn’t give you the time to pause, think, and intentionally think about the alternatives.
When you use the slow thinking process, you are more likely to make reasonable decisions after thinking thoroughly about the relevancy and the consequences of the alternatives. And when you choose after deliberate thinking, you’re likely to make a very conscious, controlled, and voluntary decision.
5. Helps Easily Follow Rules
When you’re a slow thinker, you follow rules easily. As a quick thinker, you may jump and skip the rules as you might seek expertise, not success. Slow thinking means you think intentionally and deliberately about the steps before moving forward and this thinking process is also the one that makes it easier for you to follow rules.
You see the rules, reflect on them, and look for their meaning. This allows you to see how and why they need to be followed and what is expected when you follow the rules.
6. Helps Control Our Thoughts And Actions
When you need to control your thoughts and actions, quick thinking is not the way to go. Slow thinking can help you think about what you are doing and what mental faculties you’re engaging in. When you analyze and reflect on your actions and thoughts, you take control of them and manage them effectively.
When you voluntarily and consciously intervene in your thinking process, you allow yourself to adjust and assess the changes and the impact they might have.
Neither fast-thinking nor slow thinking is wrong. Each has its benefits, usefulness, and challenges. Because you’re a slow thinker, doesn’t mean you’re less intelligent than a fast thinker or vice versa. What you need to focus on is recognizing when to choose one thought process over the other. And trust me, making this choice depends on the situation you’re in.
I hope this article helped you understand what slow thinking is, the difference between fast and slow thinking, and the benefits of slow thinking.
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