Discipline is required...
How to think in chess and to be able to find high quality chess moves. That's what we all like to know, don't we? I try to see this problem on a more theoretical level first.
You don't get the results you want?
If you can change your beliefs:
You probably think that belief is a term used in religion and has nothing to do with how to think in chess. In many tactical chess positions this is right. You just calculate the variation and that's it. But your whole situation in general is affected by belief to a certain extent when you play chess.
Example: Let's say you believe that you are an attacking player. This idea is deeply ingrained within your mind. When you reach a chess position where just patience and positional play is required you often try to attack and you might sacrifice a pawn just to satisfy this idea to attack. In the end you lose the endgame because you are a pawn down as the attack has been defended successfully.
Example: You believe that you must win this game because you have lost the last one. Your opponent has a lower rating and you must win. This belief might cause you to overextend your position and you lose. Your chess thinking is blurred and you can't evaluate the position objectively anymore.
Example: You believe that you should stick to a certain opening because you think it's strong. In reality this opening is inferior and not played by grandmasters because Black can equalize quickly. To stick to this opening will cost you points in the long run, but you just don't want to realize that. This is like to believe that smoking cigarettes can't do you any harm.
How to think in chess when it is your move and you have completed the above questioning procedure?
How to think in chess? Your thinking requires constant questioning. But it is necessary to know the right questions first. This will help you to ask them repeatedly all the time! This helps you to penetrate deeper into the position and to find the right move. After some time this becomes second nature and it happens on a more subconscious level.
To learn the right questions you have to study commented chess games. You try to follow the thinking process of a chess master. This will help you to understand and to adopt a similar thinking procedure in your own chess games.
How to think in chess the right way? I doubt that there is right or wrong. Some talented players read a chess position like a newspaper. They just glance over it and good moves spring to their mind. Every human being is different and the way how chess players understand the ultimate truth of a chess position (if they reach it at all) is different too.
How to think in chess might be a question that you should answer for yourself. After all, only you know how your mind works and how strong you think on a more intuitive level. But it is very useful and necessary to study commented grandmaster games to enter the world of chess thinking.
Those elements are: weak squares, disturbed coordination of pieces, running behind in development, weak kingside, attacking mark to rip apart the pawn structure, damaged pawn structure, bad bishop, better knight, piece activity etc.
You have to evaluate the whole lot of elements and come to a final conclusion.
Make a plan or adjust an existing plan to the position and stick to it. Don't play here and there, but follow your red line of play, even if you have to sacrifice material.
Example: If you attack on the kingside then keep going and when you lose materal at the queenside then try to accelerate the speed of your kingside attack to be faster than your opponent at the queenside. Whoever comes in first wins. There is nothing about this you can do. That's one of the laws in chess.
If you pull back your forces from the kingside and start defending your queenside where your opponent is stronger, you will still lose most of the time as you have violated this principle. Better is to speed up your own plan and keep going and sacrifice the whole queenside if necessary. In the end you might checkmate his king with your last resources and win.