How actually thinking outside the box can lead you to your muse
While outside the box thinking might be everywhere, most people have no idea what it really means to cast off uniformity and convention. By allowing yourself to see past the illusion of creative confinement, you open your mind to new ideas and inspirations that lay beyond the borders.
The box metaphor
Overdoing it a bit
Like that one song about how someone “Had a bad day” finds its way on every single radio station; you have the tendency to encounter “out of the box” allegorical terminology at just about every street corner and bus stop. Yet, despite its current ubiquitous trendiness, there is actually something about thinking outside that dull square box and how doing so can help you find creative inspiration.
The History of Thinking outside the Box
The term “think outside the box” first became popular in the 1960’s, where it was used by management consultants to help them describe the power of unorthodox thinking. While the box had its metaphorical connotations to “squareness” and “uniformity”, it was also used as a literal example with something called the Nine Dots Puzzle.
The nine dots puzzle consists of nine dots arranged in three rows of three in a square formation.
The trick was to connect all the dots with four straight contiguous lines.
Go on and try it before I show you the answer and what it pertains to thinking outside the box.
In order to use four straight lines to connect all nine dots, a person doing the puzzle is first going to have to change their perception of the nine dots. While arranged in a box formation, there is nothing in the rules that says that your lines need to be contained within the same square that the dots find themselves in. Yet, most of us take one look at this tidy little box and assume that our lines must also be contained within it. By doing so, the puzzle becomes impossible to solve. However, if you allow yourself to look past the box, the answer then comes to you.
To think outside the box means to throw out the false perceptions of creative uniformity that our minds all have the tendency to conform to and to allow ourselves to break free from the illusion of confinement that keeps us from truly finding our inspiration. Just like you need to see past the box to solve this puzzle, you might also need to see past your assumptions in order to reach your creative goal.
In order to tell a story, sometimes a film maker might need to throw out the perception that his film needs to follow a traditional timeline (Momento and Pulp Fiction are good examples).
- Physical Reality:
In order to paint what is really on their mind, painters might need to throw the creatively confining notion that their art should imitate life (abstract expressionism).
In order to come up with a new and invigorating wardrobe, a clothing designer might need to throw out the conventional ideas people have about certain clothing items (anything Lady gaga wears).
Whatever artistic or creative endeavor you might have, it pays to be able to think outside the confining box of uniformity. Next time you are brainstorming for new ideas, allow yourself to see past these invisible barriers and ask yourself where in the rulebook does it say that you cannot do this or that. By doing so, you might be able to find a new creative solution or come up with a new completely new way of doing things.