The Value of Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box can bring new thoughts into our perception with useful alternatives.
Thinking outside the box can bring new thoughts into our perception with useful alternatives. | Source

I watch people go headstrong into activities without the slightest idea of what to expect. They remain influenced by that which is easy to see in the confines of their limited space, as if they were in a little box.

People get involved with things in life such as buying a home, planning a trip, getting married, looking for a new job, all without seeing the big picture.

They make decisions based on limited information even though it may not be accurate.

I wonder if they care. I wonder if they know they can think outside the box, to have more clarity with their expectations.

They somehow feel comfortable inside the comfort zone of that influential little box.

The end-result is failure to consider the unknown when making important decisions. This can have a negative effect on the outcome of our efforts.

It can be very rewarding if we accept that things may not be as they seem, and if we do our due diligence to investigate outside the box.


What is Thinking Outside the Box?


When we think of things beyond a narrow range of thought, we are thinking outside the box. When done right, it allows us to discover something more enlightening. This requires a thought-process that does not limit our thinking.

Sometimes our thoughts may be intense and can tend to be to the furthest reaches of the imagination. This process of extending our thoughts beyond the obvious can bring more ideas and options into view.


Analyzing the Unknown


Thinking about things without limits allows us to be successful at dealing with the unknown. This is what thinking outside the box is all about.

In order to understand the unknown, consider these questions:

  • What options do we have that are not immediately obvious to us?
  • What does the future have in store for us?
  • How certain are we of things that are not immediately obvious?
  • How clear is our knowledge of the future?


The future holds everything that we have yet to experience. The past is of no significance even though past events are very well known. We may remember past events in glorious detail.

We even write about the past. We read about historical events. We talk about past experiences. We pass information about various incidences on to others, usually with our own opinions attached. The past is as clear as we can describe in our expression of it.

But what about the future?


The future will eventually happen. Most of the time we don't even see it coming. And we don't always understand it when it's here.

Why can't we visualize the future as clearly as we see the past? Is the future really unknown to us? Is it such a mystery? Are we visualizing it from a small corner of our world? Is our mind boxed into this corner?


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Can we think outside the box?


If we allow our minds to accept other concepts that may feel foreign to us, we might be able to envision different outcomes.

The idea is to be able to predict future events without the limitations normally imposed on us by the constraints of our own limited thinking.

We do have control over how we think. We can let our mind go free and allow it to consider far-fetched ideas. With some analysis we may find that they may be somewhat plausible.

And even if not, this type of thinking may lead us to another conclusion that would not have otherwise been considered.

Now we're thinking outside the box.


Predictive Modeling Outside The Box


Let's get back, for a moment, to the idea of predicting future events.

A toss of a coin can be predicted, in theory, with accurate results if we take into account every bit of information. Such as:

  • The initial position and angle of the coin.
  • The height of the toss.
  • The speed of the toss.
  • The air movement in the room.


Is there a way to accurately predict the future of the world economically, socially and politically by analyzing the present state of world events? Such as:

  • The current position of world events.
  • The height of unrest in the world.
  • The speed at which people are reacting to events.
  • The movement of people from one region to another.


Have you noticed the similarity between my coin toss analysis and my second example? Notice the use of the words: position, height, speed, and movement.

By paying attention to these four important words, I'm letting my mind be free of the tiny box where I might otherwise limit my thoughts.

This is just one example that I made up. My use of these four words is only for illustration. The technique of thinking outside the box can be done by considering any other alternatives with a certain amount of curiosity.


The Advantage of Thinking Outside The Box


When we are curious about the unknown, new discoveries can be worked out and introduced to our way of thinking. We just need to avoid limiting our imagination.

When we're trying to predict the outcome of an event, thinking outside the box provides alternative solutions to the puzzle.

We may not always know what's around the corner when we get involved in any particular endeavor, but we can protect ourselves by doing our due diligence. Avoiding putting limits on our thinking is the trick.

By looking further than the confines of the obvious, researching and discovering as much information as we can find, we are literally thinking outside the box. And that is to our advantage.


© 2012 Glenn Stok

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Comments 6 comments

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 3 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

As usual, this is a very interesting hub. While reading this I was trying to think outside the box a little. :) How do you know that friends and family are NOT thinking outside the box when taking on new ventures? Maybe they find such thinking difficult to articulate (I know I do) so they just go ahead and discuss what they were thinking later.

Also, when things are going well (from my perspective) I don't find a need to think outside the box. But when I am in difficulty or feeling really stuck, then I agree I need to think outside the box. I just don't know how to do due diligence when I'm stuck and how to think outside the box at the same time.

When I was in university I took a forecasting class. The 'trick' to succeeding was to include as many critical factors as possible. To know which factors were 'critical' was the key to forecasting accuracy. The way I did this was to take key data from a previous 12 month period and use this data to forecast what was now the present. When I found the best factors (key data) I used this data to forecast the future.

"If we allow our minds to accept other concepts that may feel foreign to us, we might be able to envision different outcomes to a present situation." Yes, but how can we do this?

Do you think that thinking outside the box may work better with collaboration with others? How else might we be able to conceptualize foreign ideas?

Thank you so much for such an enjoyable and thought-provoking article.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Maralexa, Wow! Your comment was very informative and enlightening. I know I said friends and family are not thinking outside the box. But I didn't mean everyone. I just happen to know of one or two in each of these categories that have let their lives go in a direction that is not conducive to having a bright future. When I try to offer alternatives, they feel more comfortable staying within the confines of the box, so to speak. Hence, not thinking outside the box.

How do we envision different outcomes? I guess that takes training. But one can start by opening up their mind to suggestions, recognizing when we feel too comfortable in the place where we are and accepting the fact that this may be holding us back. That's just one concept of thinking outside the box.

I am a big fan of collaboration with others. That is how the human race has achieved so much. Yes, that works well with thinking outside the box as well. Maybe even more powerful. I would bet there are organizations that already put those two concepts together.

Thanks for your questions. This has helped add much more to this article.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I think that with practice thinking outside of the box becomes easier. People often neglect to challenge mainstream thought and do not see other options... Your hub points out many useful valuable points!


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

Christy - Yes it does become easier, even second nature, when one uses the method of thinking outside the box more often. It definitely brings into mind some interesting alternatives. Thanks for your remarks.


DATALOAD profile image

DATALOAD 2 years ago from Michigan

Great article. Thinking outside the box is a great way to come up with creative ideas. Whenever I try to solve a problem, I often brainstorm to try to find the solution. This is a great way to practice thinking outside of the box.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY Author

DATALOAD - Good point you made. Creative ideas are more achievable when we think outside the box. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

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