Mental models are the various thinking frameworks that are used to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems.
Just raw intelligence is not enough to solve problems. A different or a broader set of mental models can provide a different view of the problem, leading to an unconventional, new solution not thought of before.
When it comes to using our minds, we all want to learn how to think like Sherlock Holmes. This isn't just a way of solving a crime. It's a way of thinking. Maria Konnikova's book, Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes, takes a deep look at Sherlock Holmes's methodology to develop the habits of mind that will allow us to mindfully engage the world.
As children, we are remarkably aware to the world around us. This attention wanes over time as we allow more pressing responsibilities to attend to and demands on our minds to address. And as the demands on our attention increase so, too, does our actual attention decrease.
As it does so, we become less and less able to know or notice our own thought habits and more and more allow our minds to dictate our judgments and decisions, instead of the other way around.
I wrote a response on quora recently to the question 'how do I become a better thinker' that generated a lot of attention and feedback so I thought I'd build on that a little and post it here too. Thinking is not IQ.
We're taught single loop learning from the time we are in grade school, but there's a better way. Double loop learning is the quickest and most efficient way to learn anything that you want to "stick." *** So, you've done the work necessary to have an opinion, learned the mental models, and considered how you make decisions.