Topic outline

  • Do you sometimes feel stressed out or overwhelmed by life? Do you struggle to get started with your academic thesis or other creative work? Do you feel like other people don’t always get you? Do you feel like you don’t know where you’re headed in life?

    All of the above are a consequence of the way you think. The good news is, you can learn to think better. Thinking is not something that happens to us – thinking is a skill. Like with any human activity, better ways of thinking can be learned and refined. On this course, you will learn practical science-driven tools to improve your thinking, creativity, productivity, well-being and quality of life.

    What Thinking Tools Is About?

    Thinking is at the root of all human action. Yet we spend surprisingly little time thinking about our thinking or working out ways to improve our thinking. In addition to the long tradition in philosophy, that has always been at the forefront of improving thinking, also a more pragmatic approach to develop thinking has taken root in the recent decades.

    Understanding the human mind, its processes and functions, has developed in leaps through the last five or so decades. We now understand that humans have not only one mind, but two, and that while we have some influence on our conscious thought, there is a whole wonderland of non-conscious thought that we can only influence if we learn the proper tools to do so. Understanding how your non-conscious mind works helps you alleviate work-related stress, generate creative ideas, eliminate writer's block and communicate more clearly. Your non-conscious mind can also inform you of how to find a clear direction to head towards in your life – which can sometimes be a surprising one, once you're freed of the constraints of your presuppositions.

    How the Course Works

    In this intensive course, we’ll go through a generous toolbox of ways to influence and improve your thinking. We’ll look into how to cut back on work-related stress by externalizing thought. We’ll learn about creative thinking and how to leverage the full firepower of your mind to get things done, whether in everyday life, or in your creative endeavors. 

    We’ll learn about how to communicate with others, both online and offline and what the classical Greeks and Romans can teach us about social media communications. We’ll learn how to kill writer’s block for once and for all. Ultimately, we’ll learn about what science says about well-being and the good life and how to apply this to discover your North Star – the unique direction best suited for you to start building a good life in the classical Aristotelic sense of eudaimonia

    The course will give you insights into how the human mind works and practical tools and methods on how to develop yours that you can apply straight away.

    Course Structure: Modules

    1. Introduction to the Mind: How the Mind Works (28.2.2024)

    2. The Core – What Science Knows About the Good Life, And What Can We Do About It? (1.3.2023 & 6.3.2024)

    3. Mind Management – Externalizing Thought I: How to Avoid Work-Related Stress (8.3.2023 & 13.3.2024)

    4. The Creative Mind – You are creative already and Unleash Your Creative Flow (15.3.2023 & 27.3.2024)

    5. The Extended Mind – Externalizing Thought II: How to Expand Your Thinking Capacity  (10.4.2023 & 12.4.2024)

    6. Human-Centric AI – Externalizing Thought III: How to Use Generative AI to Extend Thinking Capability (24.4. & 26.4.2024)

    7. Thinking Together – How Aristotle, Churchill and Monty Python Can Help You State Your Case Both Online and In Person (8.5. & 10.5. 2024)

    8. Wrap Up & Taking the Next Steps (15.5.2024)

    Apart from the 2h introduction and wrap up sessions, each module consists of 2h discussion-driven lectures and 2h of workshops., totaling 28h. The Wednesday sessions run from 12.15am to 2pm. The Friday sessions run from 2.15pm to 4pm.

    Paricipation in the lectures and workshops is mandatory, as most learning happens in these interactive settings. In addition to the lectures and workshops, you are required to complete a resource mapping exercise at the beginning of the course, reflecting on your life from the perspective of the course themes. At the end of the course, you are required to craft a self-development plan committing to at least some of the Thinking Tools presented on the course and shared as a 2–3 minute video. You will also need to submit a learning diary describing your learnings in class. In total, lectures, workshops, the essay and the plan constitute 3 ECTS credits worth of work.


    Lecture spaces:

    The Wednesday sessions will be at Kide, 1501 Sklodowska-Curie. The Friday sessions will be at TUAS AS6 except 15.3. which is at Väre M202 and 26.4. & 10.5. which will be at Kide 1501.

    Learning Goals

    • Learn to identify your core values, intrinsic motivation factors and how to build towards a life rooted to your personal strengths
    • Learn to externalize and structure activities and goals in everyday life
    • Learn to set clear goals and create a regular routine of prioritization and re-prioritization
    • Learn to set up an online database for externalizing thought and a tag structure to access any information stored in the database even years later in a matter of seconds
    • Learn to improve the quantity and quality of creative ideas and how to overcome writer's block
    • Learn to use the new AI solutions to extend thinking capabilities
    • Learn to argue in a convincing manner, to identify typical argumentation fallacies and to support and engender dialogue especially in situations involving conflict

    Theoretical frameworks employed on the course

      • Self determination theory by Richard Ryan & Edward Deci
      • Positive psychology frameworks of Martin Seligman and Barbara Fredrickson
      • Dual processing theories of cognition by Jonathan Evans, Keith Stanovich and Daniel Kahneman
      • Pragmatic psychology of William James
      • Organism-environment theory by Timo Järvilehto
      • Systems intelligence theory by Esa Saarinen and Raimo Hämäläinen
      • The extended mind theory by David Chalmers and Andy Clark
      • Flow theory of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      • Argumentation and rhetorics frameworks by Aristotle and Chaim Perelman
      • Dialogue theories by David Bohm and William Isaacs

      PLEASE NOTE! While theoretical frameworks are used to argue in favor of the methods used, this is not a theoretical course. The focus is on learning new ways to develop one’s thinking and on how to employ them in everyday life.

      About the Teacher

      The course is taught by Lauri Järvilehto, PhD. Lauri has written several bestselling books on thinking and well-being. He is a Professor of Practice at Aalto University and formerly the Director of the Aalto Ventures Program.