The 16 Habits of Mind are a framework for how to think and behave intelligently when problems are encountered and challenges are faced in life for learning and growing. These habits were discovered by the research of authors Costa and Kallick and primarily studied in educational environments. These habits were quantified by drawing on their research and experience in applying the habits of mind to achieve results in education but can be implemented in any area of life like business, sports, and family life. These mind habits are the keys to the mental behaviors for every step in making intelligent behavior a practical outcome in any situation or pursuit in life.
What are mind habits?
Habits of Mind are repetitive thinking patterns that intelligent people use to solve problems they encounter. They use different mental models from their mental toolbox like logic, social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and experience. The best mental habits create heuristic shortcuts to allow smart people to act in effective ways when encountering difficult problems.
What are the critical Habits of Mind?
Below are the 16 Habits of Mind identified by Costa and Kallick in their book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success
Not giving up is a powerful habit as perseverance can overcome the obstacles of time and inexperience.
2. Thoughtful communication
Clear and precise communication and thinking can be life changing. The key to communication is making sure you know what your audience needs to hear to understand based on their own perspective. Most of the best communication is in the listening and then the focus on just saying the minimum needed to get your point across. Telling people what you need from them is also crucial. It’s a skill to think clearly using logic and reason and not letting your emotions, opinions, and ego cloud your thinking.
3. Managing impulsiveness
The ability to say no to your own impulses and desires in the short-term to achieve more desired long-term goals is one of the most important mental habits for success in any area of life. Waiting, patience, and self-discipline can pay large future returns.
4. Use all senses to gather data
Complete observation is the process of using all of your five senses to gather all available information. This means allowing information into our brains from as many senses as possible and not just a few.
Being mindful of all our sensory pathways can make us more open and alert to absorbing more information from a situation than those who don’t realize how to use their full senses. Studies are learning more about the impact of art and music on improved mental functioning. Forming clear mental images is essential in math and engineering. Other professional fields use a variety of senses to improve their work. The wider the perspective we can get in a situation from the most senses the more we will understand the different angles of a problem.
5. Social Intelligence
Listening with understanding and empathy is a form intelligence practiced in social settings. Social intelligence is a crucial mental habit that will open up networking and relationships to your life that can help exponentially in all areas of achievement and happiness in general.
Creating, imagining, and innovating is a mental edge as so many people just do what they’re told and manage what already exists for them. Creating new things is one of the most powerful mental habits you can develop.
7. Flexible thinking
Thinking flexibly helps react to situations as they unfold and adapt to best take advantage of opportunities. A flexible thinker always adjusts to change and looks for the best new pathway for success.
8. Enthusiastic responses
Responding with wonderment and awe makes people feel special and important. How we react to others sets their tone for how they feel about us and how willing they are to help us in anything we need.
Thinking about thinking is having the awareness and understanding of your own thought processes. Metacognition is the mental habit of knowing yourself, being mindful of your thoughts as they play out. It’s the practice of mindfulness or being aware of your own biases, strengths, and weaknesses. This is one of the most powerful mental habits as it gives you the higher perspective of self-awareness.
10. Risk Management
Taking responsible risks is a crucial mental habit to stay safe mentally, emotionally, and financially. It allows learning and growing to be safely done in the context of a risk management framework.
11. Precision in action
Striving for accuracy is a mental skill that helps focus effort, energy, and time for optimal results.
Finding humor is a mental skill for both stress reduction for yourself and others.
13. Thinking in possibilities
Questioning and posing problems helps see all possible outcomes both good and bad. This can help establish good risk/reward ratios and see the best and worst cash scenarios before committing to one path of action.
14. Seeing confluences
Thinking interdependently on how things work together is the mental habit of seeing the big picture. This mental habit of seeing confluences can see underlying risks and unintended consequences as well as how to create big wins be combining things that are not obviously related.
15. Using experience
Applying past knowledge to new situations. The mental habit of using experience for learning lessons and not making the same mistake multiple times. Using old lessons to solve new problems. Don’t work the same year over and over again, each new year of experience should see growth and improvement not repeating patterns of mistakes.
16. Life-long learner
Remaining open to continuous learning is a crucial mental habit with the current rate of change in education, business, and technology. If you’re not learning and growing as an individual you are being left behind in a fast changing world.
Why are the Habits of Mind important?
Using the Habits of Mind allows people to continue to optimize positive experiences and overcome negative experiences and continue to learn even when needing to guess or making mistakes. When we use the Habits of Mind we can realize that when a mind is reaching for new information and making connections for problem solving we learn during the process of arriving at conclusions for what to do.
The key to getting the maximum value from the Habits of the Mind is to make them your natural default thought filter through continuously using them in place of emotional reactions or letting ego interfere with the decision making process. Repetition is the key to developing habits.