How to Think Outside the Box
Have you ever been called a complainer in the past? I sometimes get told that I am sometimes a complainer. I tend to look at things in the world about me and I find many things that are wrong or things that I would do better. But I sometimes ask myself why is it that I can see things so clearly when I judge them so, and can find so many ways to fix a problem, but when it comes to my own life there are many areas in which I cannot see as clearly?
If this is your problem or if you have ever wondered why it is sometimes so difficult to see a way to fix your own problems while it is sometimes so easy for you to see how to fix the problems of others, this is an article that might help you.
As human beings, we are naturally born with a very limited perspective. We can only inhabit one point in space and time and as a result, are born with only one single perspective from which to look at the things around us. If I look at a certain object like a chair for example, I can only see the chair from my one perspective because I am only in this one area of space/time. Another person looking at the same chair from a different perspective in space and time will see a completely different chair from me and as a result might come up with a completely different impression of this object. That we might agree that we are looking at the same chair is really an amazing act because in reality we are both focusing on the similarities that we can see and trying very hard to ignore all those dissimilarities between what that person is seeing and what I’m seeing.
This is the case with all things in life; I have one perspective and you have another. Beyond this there is a great variance in how I perceive something and you perceive something as a result of our subjective mental state. Emotions can indeed cloud our judgment and my thoughts and beliefs about certain key ideas about reality can make my perceptions completely different from yours.
All of these differences make my perception quite individualistic and unfortunately quite limited. In order for us to see a way out of our problems we must be able to expand our limited perspective. We must be able to perceive a thing from not just our perspective, but also from every other perspective that we can possibly conceptualize. In this way we are able to see angles to certain things that are not available to us from our single perspective. You could call this ‘flexibility in thinking’ and it is the true act of being able to ‘see outside the box’. When you see things from outside the box you are literally seeing things from outside your own limited three-dimensional perspective.
As human beings we are given one very powerful tool and that is our imagination. With a powerful imagination, our minds can expand the scope of their awareness and therefore see outside of themselves. In order to be able to see things from different perspectives and develop a more flexible way of thinking, you must use your imagination to see things from as many perspectives as possible.
Use your imagination to adopt different perceptual positions
Next time that you have a problem, try to use your imagination to see this problem from a different perspective; try to position your consciousness in a different space/time position so that you can see the problem from a different angle.
When you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, try to see this problem from a third person perspective. What I mean by this is that you should imaginatively try to see the problem from outside yourself.
You can do this in two ways:
- think about how the problem would look like to someone looking at it from a spectator’s point of view. For example, you could imagine that you are looking at yourself and the problem that you face from the perspective of a person watching a television program sitting comfortably in his/her couch. From this perspective you are no longer experiencing your problems directly but you are a witness who is separated completely from the problem; you are a detached witness.
- Use your imagination to detach yourself from your physical body and travel away from this body to see the situation from a different perspective. Here you would use your imagination to create an ‘astral’ form of yourself that would look down on the situation that you are physically experiencing, again this individual would be detached emotionally from whatever particular situation is happening physically and would be able to see a broader view of the whole sequence of things that are happening.
Using this method you should be able to get a broad perspective of whatever problem you face. Once you are in this third person perspective, try to imaginatively be there as completely as possible, you will know you have succeeded when you no longer have a deep emotional attachment to your problem. Once in this perspective, try to see if you can figure out a different way to approach the problem and to solve it.
If you are facing a group of people and you find yourself either facing a problem together or trying to oppose a foe, try to use your imagination to put yourself and the other person’s perspective. Again, imaginatively detach yourself from your physical being and try to imagine what it would be like to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Once you feel that you are in the other person’s perspective and your emotions have changed accordingly, notice the feelings inside yourself. What feelings you have about the situation and how do they differ from your physical perspective? Imagine as vividly as possible what it feels like to be that other person in that situation and gain insight into ways to solve problems or defeat this opponent with this knowledge.
A good thing to do in this scenario is also to try and use a third person perspective. Try using your imagination to go from where you are physically, to where your opponent is, and then finally to a third person perspective. What insights have you gained from all these perspectives? Use this information to figure out a new way to approach a difficult situation where you don’t seem to be able to discover a solution.
The ability to see things from different perspectives is the key to being flexible in your thinking. Using your imagination to give you an advantage, you should be able to come up with all sorts of different information and insight that can help you with any problem that you might face. To think outside the box, you have to literally think from outside your physical perspective in space and time.