Has “thinking outside the box” become an oxymoron?


… if so how would one describe original thinking? (1)

Blue-Sky or Open Thinking

It’s nearly impossible to predict the intent behind all of the ways people use/abuse this phrase… To me “thinking outside the box”; when applicable to a situation or problem, doesn’t mean “unorthodox” thinking, it means “thinking w/o constraints” and represents only an early step in a process… as the results from such limitless exercise should be deemed “preliminary” or “suspect” until they can be tested and validated through the reality (aka; constraints) that any situation or problem statements we’re aiming to solve will likely have.

I wish that another way to express “thinking w/o constraints” would be to say “original thinking”… after all, “thinking” per se, is part of an automatic sequence triggered in all of our complex human organisms from an early age… we start to develop through our senses (sight, sound, taste & touch) which evolves us to question and so, we begin to think; simply and w/o constraints at first (original thinking) and in more complex (learned and societal influenced) ways a bit later which, unbeknown to us, will lead us to become a highly unpredictable species.

Assuming we’re not children (being one at-heart does not count…), we will find it hard to think “originally” which is why phrases such as the “outside the box” one get so much overplay me thinks. As we wistfully desire to do so.

Houses of Parliament series (Monet)

Monet - Houses of Parliament

Original or un-restrained thinking is a delightful experience…every time I have the opportunity to watch children in their early discovery years, I find myself admiring their raw creativity and wondering how powerful it would be if only we could regress and/or tap into it in meaningful (read: grown-up useful) ways. But alas, except in rare cases, as long as we have lived and still co-exist in a formal society, we have had – by necessity – to learn to place ourselves within it and by the process, forever loose the innocence required to admire things as they seem to be rather than as they are.

But I am hopeful…for there are some folks whose curiosity level, attitude and Spirit have allowed them to push through the reality and constraints most of us live with on a daily basis. Some are the artists we either admire or don’t understand, others we disregard as unpractical…as being too “out-there”. But I wonder…

Before ending this I would like to reference a poem by Lisel Muller that has deeply touched me and that I re-read on a regular basis. It is titled; “Monet Refuses the Operation” – hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

(1) Question posed on a TED discussion by Spencer Holmes

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About JP
"There is nothing to be found in a beehive that is not submerged in a bee. Yet we may explore a bee forever and still never find a hive..." Kevin Kelly's - Out of Control

One Response to Has “thinking outside the box” become an oxymoron?

  1. Pingback: Creative Thinking: Living outside the Box | Social Behavioral Patterns–How to Understand Culture and Behaviors

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