How to think out of the box

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why we fail to think out of the Box

In order for any person to achieve happiness in life he must be able to solve the daily life problems he encounters. Because life is not simple sometimes people face problems that need special kind of answers instead of the usual ones they always come up with and this is where thinking out of the box can help.

While most people are aware of the importance of being able to come with creative ideas most of them actually use the same old thinking patterns they learned and that's why they fail to deal with their important life problems.

The important question is, Why do people fail to think out of the box?
Here are the answers:

  • 1) They learned to copy others: Since our early years we are taught to be like everyone else around us and that's why most of us end up becoming followers. As a result of these teachings becoming different became a fearful idea and so most people learned to stick to the herd even if everyone was going in the wrong direction. Because we copy certain thinking patterns we usually try to solve the problems we encounter in the same way that others solve them and that's why we fail to come up with new solutions.
  • 2) Our past experiences: The most popular reason for lack of creativity is the development of false beliefs. When people form certain beliefs about life their thinking patterns become governed by these beliefs. If for example a person believed that he can't find a job then all of the solutions that will come to his mind won't include looking for a job because his beliefs eliminated that option. Now the problem is that most people have tens if not hundreds of false beliefs and as a result they find themselves helpless in the face of every new problem they encounter
  • 3) Fear & Creative thinking: What does fear has to do with creative thinking? When people get used to certain thinking patterns they feel more comfortable when they stick to them. In other words, a person could stick to the same solution that never worked just because he is afraid to come out of his comfort zone. A man who hates his job could keep it for years just because he is too afraid to look for another one or to start his own business

How to think outside of the box

In order to think outside of the box you need to put aside all the assumptions, false beliefs and past experiences. Start writing down the proposed suggestions that come to your mind without doing any filtration.

Even if an idea seemed impossible just write it down and shortly you will start to realize that some of the impossible ideas led to more possible ones. (see also Doing the impossible)

The more ideas you generate the more likley you are going to come up with a solution. Just like success is all about failing more than once until you find out what works creative thinking works the same way.

The more ideas you generate the closer you will come to the solution that will appeal to you. After you run out of ideas meet a close a friend and ask him to help you find more ones.

Its extremely important that you tell him about the rules as well so that he doesn't give you suggestions that are influenced by his own false beliefs and past experiences.

More creative thinking tips

here are some more creative thinking tips:

  • Think of the ultimate goal: Many people get stuck with finding solutions because they focus on the way the problem should be solved rather than the ultimate goal they want to reach. If the manger of a call center wanted people who waited on phone to get answered quickly then he can either hire more staff or he can let those on hold listen to interesting music that would make them unconscious of the time that passes. Both solutions will solve the problem but in order to come up with the second one that manager had to put in mind that the ultimate goal was making the customers happy and not minimizing the waiting time
  • Let your subconscious mind look for the answer: Right before you stop working read the problem description you wrote more than once then leave. During that time your subconscious mind will keep searching for solutions and if it found one it will suddenly pop into your mind. That's why sometimes programmers wake in the middle of the night to add one missing line to the code that makes it work. (see also The ultimate solution to all life problems)
  • Avoid closed areas: Your thinking patterns get affected by your environment. You will come up with more creative solution's in a park than if you were in your room. Visit a open area or sit by the sea then let your mind wander you will be surprised of the difference in the way of thinking you will experience as soon as you do so.

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