Thinking Out Of the Box - A Practice to be Adopted Effectively

  • Dr. Sapna Sharma
  • 16 October 2019

Among the many definitions and descriptions of the proverb “Thinking out of the box” this is the one that I find most interesting and relevant to all of us - Thinking out of the box is to understand your position in relation to any particular situation in a way you’d never thought of before.

Now, isn’t that one interesting? Rather than thinking in terms of problem solving, if we use this definition of “thinking out of the box” then perhaps we would be able to apply it to everyday situations, happenings and decision- making catches.

Come to think of it, all of us face many situations in day-to-day life when we have to stop and think. The issues at hand may not be of very big nature, but to us and on those particular moments, those very issues are critical. Many of such every day demanding situations expect solutions and alternative options from us and on such times if we are not aware of the power of “out of the box thinking” we invariably go for the cliché options, the “tried and tested” ones, the obvious and apparent ones. Well, basically what we are looking for are the ones that appear to be safe, least challenging and something that demands least action from us.

We are afraid of the “Uncertainties” factors that come with the “out of box” or “different” thoughts or ideas. That is why we tend to stick to the “common” and the “sure-fire” options, thus practically trying to absolve ourselves from the burden of “Risk taking”.

However, while going for the short-term satisfactions we blind ourselves to the future consequences of choosing these “often-beaten” paths. For the momentary pleasures of “approving” to the set expectations, we miss out on tens of opportunities every day.

And this is precisely applicable to the most important decisions of our life- choosing careers, choosing marriage partners, choosing nature of work, choosing place of work and residence so on and so forth…

So often in my counseling practice I have come across students and parents who may encourage many different talents in themselves and their children, but when the time comes to choose a ‘career’ they all seem to back slide in the safe cocoons of the “Tried-and-tested” careers. I am sure many of you would be able to identify with this dialogue given here:

“My son is very good at playing guitar- but he has to stop it now otherwise he would spoil his career”…

“My daughter has topped the drawing exams, but drawing cannot give you bread and butter it is ok for a hobby”…

“I wish I had not encouraged my son to win so many trophies for stage performances, now he is not serious about a good career at all”…

These and many more, I here every day at my counseling center and I am sure many of you would be able to identify with them as a student or as a parent.

The obvious concern of the parents is that in a country like India where there is no social security system or a provision for non- employment allowance. Plus our society does not believe in “dignity of labor at large” which cuts the available work opportunities to less than half for most.

And yet, I am of the firm belief based on my experiences with life and people, that if one can persist with a strong faith in what one believes in, there can be so many ways to reach the goal. Yes we are not taught to think differently. Rather we are not encouraged either. Our society does not want “thinkers” it just wants blind followers and hence most of us who dare to march to a different drummer are shunned and tortured till such time that either he/ she gives up and joins the band of the ordinary, or persists and rises at such a position that the society becomes ready to change its defined “norms”.

Thinking and acting out of the box requires one to:

  •                   Improve one’s self- esteem
  •                   Learn positive risk taking
  •                  Move out of the comfort zone
  •                  Research and take guidance as you go



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