Habits of Mind

Habits of mind are a set of thought patterns that intelligent people have developed in order to solve problems and learn. These mental tools allow us to get past rut-thinking and fall into positive states of thinking when confronted with challenges.

These are habits that we should cultivate in students throughout their educational careers. They are cross-curricular and can be applied to almost any subject or grade level.

1. Perseverance

Perseverance is the strength and drive that helps you do something even though it’s hard. This strength is important when you’re facing a challenge that’s tough on your body, mind or emotions.

It is also a strong habit when it comes to relationships, especially with family and friends. You may have a difficult time talking to someone or you might not want to do something that will make your friend feel uncomfortable, but perseverance keeps you going through that hard moment.

Smart people use intelligent habits of mind to solve problems that arise in life, allowing them to utilize deductive tools to gain knowledge and insights when encountering unfamiliar situations. These habits of mind include persistence; keeping impulsivity in check; listening with understanding and empathy; thinking flexibly; thinking about thinking; striving for accuracy; questioning and posing problems; applying past knowledge to new circumstances; thinking and communicating with clarity and precision; gathering data through all senses; responding with wonderment and awe; taking responsible risks; finding humor; and remaining open to continuous learning.

2. Patience

The ability to calmly tolerate delay, trouble or suffering is a virtue that goes hand in hand with good mental health. Researchers have linked patient people to a higher life satisfaction, better self-esteem and an ability to control their emotions and actions that helps them achieve goals.

But being patient doesn’t come easily. It takes work and practice, according to psychologist Sarah Schnitker.

She says the first step to becoming more patient is mindful self-awareness, which means paying attention to your reactions and responses to people, events and circumstances.

Take inventory of your feelings, noticing when you’re feeling impatient, anxious or even angry and what’s triggering them. This will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not. And it will also let you know when to change your mindset and react in a more patient way.

3. Empathy

Empathy is a key component of social cognition. It helps us establish rapport and develop meaningful relationships, Konrath said.

It also allows us to read others’ non-verbal cues. For example, a nurse might be able to empathize with someone who is nervous about getting a needle in her arm.

Research shows that empathy lowers stress hormones. It’s also associated with better overall mental health and satisfaction in work, Lerner said.

Increasing your empathy can be done through various habits of mind, including reading fiction. This is because it allows you to enter the thoughts and feelings of a character, helping you understand their perspective.

4. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a critical life skill that allows us to effectively address challenges in the workplace and our personal lives. It is a process of recognizing the challenge, defining it, determining the root cause, discovering the best solution, and analyzing the results.

When a person is facing a difficult challenge, they usually try to find a quick, easy way out of the situation. This can actually be a problem because it doesn’t identify the true source of the problem.

Developing effective problem-solving skills can help you find solutions to your problems more quickly and efficiently. It also helps you feel more determined and confident in your abilities.

5. Metacognition

Increasing student metacognition is a major goal for educators at all levels. As students become more self-aware, they can plan and implement different learning strategies to improve their performance.

Metacognition is the ability to understand one’s own cognitive processes, including memory capabilities and study skills. It involves selecting and using the right study strategies for each task at hand and monitoring progress.

Several studies have shown that students with strong metacognitive skills perform better than their peers. They also know when they’re not getting what they need from a strategy and decide to try another approach.

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