6 Ways to Deeper Critical Thinking

Arcade Futures
7 min readJun 11, 2024


Graph Theory. My notes in Obsidian are starting to look more like this

I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking.

I noticed that most of the content we encounter online doesn’t discuss much about thinking. Instead, it tells us how to do something (or rather, what we should be doing). And while artificial intelligence can be quite impressive, I don’t think we should assume that it’s capable of better “thinking” than human beings. I believe, if we’re going to survive, we need to increase our investment in human intelligence. We need to remind ourselves of our ability to think deeply.

One of the most brilliant things about thinking critically and effectively is that it’s mostly free. It just takes practice and a bit of mindfulness, focus, and intention to develop the skill set.

So here I will quickly share with you some useful principles for better thinking. A cool feature of these principles is that the more you simply think about them, the more they will resonate and be applicable in your daily life; the more you research them, the closer you are to deploying them.

These are simple but profound concepts that help deepen your level of awareness and strategic thinking simply by being conscious of their existence and relation to your experience.

So here are 6 guiding principles that you can use to unlock new strategies for handling life’s challenges.

Deploy and prosper!

1 — Blue Ocean Strategy

The Blue Ocean Strategy is a concept in a business book written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne about how to avoid competition by leaning towards true innovation.

In business, there are two oceans: the red ocean, where industry competition, its limits, and products have mostly been solidified. This ocean has become “blood red” due to ruthless competition constantly fighting for small portions of the market share.

Meanwhile, the blue ocean is clear. There is no cutthroat competitiveness because the market space has yet to be identified, and demand still needs to be created. The ocean is clear from any conflict and therefore is yours to set sail in.

Seek to innovate instead of compete, and tap into markets yet to be explored. You don’t need to always react to competition; sometimes it’s best to go elsewhere.

Create your own industry.

2 — Systems Thinking

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Systems thinking is great. It’s about looking at the world and its elements in terms of systems, as opposed to separate parts. This is an idea that is used in nearly every field imaginable. It can be related to politics, sociology, health, production, economics, learning — anything you can think of!
Let’s take holistic medicine as an example. Many practitioners will look at the body as a whole, not just the problem area a patient may be having. For example, a headache might be solved long-term by providing hydration to the patient, as opposed to simply taking over-the-counter headache-relief pills. Perhaps the headache is actually a deeper sign that the body is dehydrated. This is just a small example.

Consider education: instead of punishing a student for talking too much during a lecture, we might arrange the classroom in a way where students are less likely to talk with one another. Perhaps we would create messaging before class to let students know classroom expectations or talk with parents beforehand to get further support in fostering responsible behavior. Another small example of addressing a perceived conflict at a deeper level. Basically, we are looking at the student’s relationship with the classroom, their relationship with their parents, and their actions in terms of a broader system rather than merely reacting to the perceived problem.

Systems thinking can be applied to individuals in relation to their broader systems in sociology, culture, political systems, urban design, business, industrialization, and more.

3 —The “Strength of Weak Ties” Theory

Visible Network Labs

Who knew those occasional acquaintances could actually be more valuable than your close friends?

This theory basically says that “people with whom you have weaker ties are more likely to have information or connections that are useful and relevant.”

Sometimes, the people you talk to less will be the ones to help you reach your goals because they are not in your immediate circle and therefore will have some very relevant “outsider” information that you (and your close friends) are not privy to.

This is a fascinating theory that posits that because your typical circle of friends and acquaintances are likely to know each other or have similar access to resources, those who will give you newer opportunities in work or access to new information that you need will likely be outside your immediate circle, and may be even in a different industry altogether.
Instead, the most valuable people to your expansion in your career will typically be acquaintances — people you know but perhaps only touch base with 1–2 times a year.

4 — Game Theory

Games and politics both utilize this:


Game theory is a branch of mathematics that explains how people might interact where interactions and choices will affect the other party.
It’s basically how various strategies may arise based on the perspective, identity, approach, goals, and ideals of the parties involved. Game theory can be used to calculate the strategies and approaches to action that people may take in competitive and cooperative scenarios.

It involves looking at all the variables of actions relating to what decision-makers have to gain, what they have to lose, and how they perceive these matters themselves. It’s obviously very relevant in board games like chess, video games, and sports, where a player is trying to predict what the other person will do in order to strategize and achieve success over the competition.

5 — Integrative Thinking

Roger Martin

Integrative thinking was developed by Graham Douglas and basically says that you should apply conflicting ideas, imagination, and reason in decision-making. The Rotman School of Management defines integrative thinking as:

“…the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models but is superior to each.”

This means looking at the entire picture in decision-making, as opposed to merely seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. How can we use the various data about the perceived stimulus worth avoiding and create a strategy or option that does not seem apparent? Instead of feeling forced to choose between A or B, enjoy the freedom in creating a C, D, E, or X option.

Integrative thinkers embrace complexity for their own benefit, creating from that complexity, alternative routes of action.

6 — Antifragility (aka “What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”)


Antifragility is a systems concept developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book “Antifragile.”

He suggests that the more stress, chaos, and uncertainty one experiences, the stronger they become. Organisms or objects of design can have mechanisms that help them thrive or improve as they experience challenges.

For example, muscles grow stronger under stress, certain businesses become stronger after great economic challenges, and great leaders and inventions may arise after social or political conflict. Out of the ashes rises a phoenix.

With this approach, you can think about how to use situations that seem stressful and challenging to find new opportunities for innovation and growth. Turn your perceived conflict into your advantage.


These are just a few of the many great principles, theories, and strategies that great decision-makers have used to help get the most out of their environment.

Use these theories as you see fit, research them, and read more about the ones that seem particularly interesting to you. And don’t forget, good thinking is one of the greatest tools you have as a human being; your ability to think creatively and critically is still the best investment you can make.

Good luck!