How to Become a More Independent Thinker

At age five, 98 percent of kids could be considered creative geniuses. Once they hit adulthood, only two percent of adults maintain that creative genius. Yikes.

The sad truth is that our society and schooling system encourage young minds to conform to a standard set of ideals, which tends to squash creative, independent thinking in the process. It is a true loss, and living in this age of tech only makes things worse. Social media and the Internet are turning many of us into pseudo-informed drones. We shout into our echo chambers without experiencing any original ideas or thought patterns, self-satisfied by our own volume, attention and importance.

This is a HUGE issue for society. At its core, it is the result of one problem: the majority of us are uncomfortably unfamiliar with forming independent thoughts. Most of us are apathetic, habitually lazy and more consumed with binge watching the newest Netflix series than anything else.

But you can break free from this pattern. It takes work, but you can train your brain to think independently again. Here are a few practices that will help you enrich your thinking and build momentum.

Boho girl writing in her diary wearing a floral dress

Practice freewriting.

Whats should I even write about? I cant think of ANYTHING. If you have ever sat down with a blank sheet of paper in this type of crisis, freewriting is exactly what you need. Unlocking your creativity takes concerted practice. When you sit yourself in front of a piece of paper and force yourself to write something—as dreadful as it may be—you’re training your brain to access that rusty old portal more and more easily. Push through the challenging days, and pretty soon you’ll be writing about ideas, topics and concepts you would have never otherwise dreamed of!

Funny Burrowing owl Athene cunicularia

Feed your curiosity.

Make it a standard practice to seek knowledge about ANY new topic that intrigues you.  Seriously, don’t discriminate. Did you hear something interesting about cave diving, and it sparked a bit of inspiration? Find a book and read it. Yes, it’s easy to be satisfied by a quick Google search, but try to get in the habit of taking every seed of inspiration one step further. Talk to an expert, go to the library, watch a documentary. If you’re still interested, keep pursuing it. If you’re not, great, move on to the next thing with the knowledge that you fully investigated that little whim. Invest in your own thoughts and interests, and don’t let go of the thread of your own curiosity.

Read voraciously.

Don’t just read one article on one website and consider yourself an expert. This is easy to do with the internet being the wild west it is, but try to resist the quick fix. And don’t feel bad about flip-flopping on an opinion after reading something new. Opinions should not be fixed—they should grow and evolve as we collect more knowledge and information. Closed stubbornness kills independent thinking—more reading is the answer.

Reading book while drinking coffee

Travel as much as possible.

And do it solo if you can. Expose yourself to as many different people, cultures and places as possible. Having foreign experiences that are out of your comfort zone opens your mind in unique and exciting ways.

Becoming a more independent thinker opens up an entire world of possibilities. Of course, complacency is a lot easier, but if you’re looking to live the richest possible version of your one wild life, you need to start embracing your independent thoughts. You’ll be amazed by how interesting you actually are when you openly engage with yourself… and the world around you.

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Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin1 days ago

It can be hard to find time to travel

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin1 days ago

Not always easy to find time to travel

Danny C
Danny Chan2 days ago

Reading voraciously is an excellent way to develop your problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. It exposes you to new ideas and different ways of thinking. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H2 days ago


David F
David F3 days ago

Eric is correct, this would be a very productive article in Politics.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees4 days ago

Thanks for the advice!
Please post this in the politics section.
The majority of the people commenting and posting articles on Care2 in the political sections could really use this advice. Why do so many people still refuse to think for themselves?

Joan E
Joan E5 days ago

For better or worse, I was raised to be an independent thinker.

Lesa D
Lesa D5 days ago

thank you Jordyn...

Ann B
Ann B6 days ago

cant get the kids/and some adults off the cells and dope long enough to think?????

Hui S
Hui S7 days ago

great ideas - thanks for sharing!