TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

The Myth of the box

It is not a philosophical or a complicated theory, it is just too simple idea that nobody seems to see it or understand it, the myth of the box is just one of many false believes that most of people are highly convinced with, to the extent of inevitability. Yet, it is not a complete wrong concept; it is just a huge misunderstanding.
“You have to think outside of the BOX”
I think all of you believe in such phrase, but this is the core of the myth. If you can answer the following question, then you can prove me wrong “Whose BOX is that?”
Who is the real owner of this box that everybody thinks inside it but scientists and philosophers advise you to think outside of it? Do you know the answer?
Yes, yes, you may think that this box is our community’s box, our culture’s box, our environment’s box, or even our tradition’s box. But that still doesn’t answer the core question “Whose BOX is that?”
Just open your eyes to the simplest things ever, “You are a master piece”, you are not like anybody, you have your own DNA, and to the last of these words. You have your own everything, so why you don’t have your own box to think in.
Since I heard this phrase, I only had one question, if I think outside of the box; I just will be lost in big space with zero gravity, so is that a right thing to do?, and then it hit me, I have my own box that nobody seems to have, a lot of other people of safety lovers and traditions worshipers, tend to clone their boxes from others of the same species, just cause they think that if they do the same things they will get the same results, so I am not in a void space, I am in a box also but a unique one.
I am happy with my box; it is a real big one, filled up with dreams, thoughts, good deeds, sins, and every little thing that makes me who I am. My box can be modified, can be updated and can be flexible enough to adapt with the lessons I learn in life.
You have one, everybody has a box, its shape and its direction, are your responsibility, I can talk t


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 4 2014: You say outside of the box there is just big empty space with zero gravity. If outside of the box there is nothing, then that must mean that inside of the box there is everything we know.
    By that definition, thinking outside of the box is impossible. It muddles our reality. There is no way of comprehending this outside space, because it embodies what we do not know. If our knowledge consists of the box, then once we gain knowledge it becomes apart of our box. That is why our curiosity is insatiable. We are waiting to gain knowledge that will allow us to step outside of this box, but it is impossible. All that is unknown will remain unknown, because when we learn it, well.. we will know it. (We as in humans)

    I would say that your revelation that the box was yours was you actually redefining what the box was to you.

    I think a better question would be, "What's inside the box?" And then we could learn what's outside out it and why we should be thinking out there, and who owns it. Majority of people believe that if you think outside of the box, you're thinking in an individual and unique way. That means inside the box must be an expected and traditional way of thinking. By that definition, everyone (society) that influences your traditional way of thinking created the box.

    If you own the box and think inside of it, that means outside of it is everything that doesn't consist of you. However, if your box can fluctuate and be modified, as you say, then what is the point of thinking outside of it? It invalidates the metaphor. The box is no longer a box, at that point. It is you. It is you being shaped by your "outside", or everything else you are influenced by.

    The whole box metaphor is a bit to vague for my taste. Whatever you believe is inside and outside of the box determines who it belongs to. For me, it belongs to no one because I don't associate with this metaphor. I think everywhere that I find it possible to place my thoughts, and there is no box in existence.
    • thumb
      May 5 2014: Everyone I know has habitual patterns of thinking. Based on my experience, I suspect you have some habitual thought patterns, too, Charlie, and therefore a box. These habits of thought effectively constitute a self-limiting box that a person has the option of thinking outside of, by simply not following their usual habitual patterns and instead somehow directing or allowing one's thoughts to wander further than usual, or perhaps further than ever before.

      Ownership is an interesting consideration. We own the boxes we build for ourselves; the limitations we learn and live with. But we tend to become unconscious of our self-imposed limitations, even while living with and limited by them. In that situation, our boxes effectively own us.

      What is inside the box is what we are familiar with and used to, and perhaps comfortable with or particularly afraid of - all the things we pay attention to. What is outside the box are all the things we are ignorant of or that we ignore - all the things we do not pay attention to. There are a lot more things that we ignore than the limited set of things we pay attention to.

      When we intently and continually focus our attention on something, we tend to blind ourselves to other things that aren't within our focus of attention. We can shift our focus, but as we do so in order to include different things, we lose focus on the previous things. We can continually shift around to include many things, in serial fashion, and our memory makes it seem as though we're focusing on many things all at the same time, but it can be sort of an illusion.

      An no matter how much we shift our focus around, we only cover a tiny percentage of all the possible things there are available to focus on. So there's lots outside our range of focus - outside of our box - even as we try to be more inclusive and holistic in our attention and thinking.

      That said, we can expand our awareness dramatically through our intuition, which is very different from thinking.
      • thumb
        May 5 2014: This is true. I was merely saying that this metaphor can mean different things to different people. I dispel it all together because it frustrates me, LOL.

        A thought-
        If you think outside of the box, aren't you still thinking inside of the box? While thinking outside of the box, aren't you still being selective of what you choose to focus on and limiting yourself to some degree? Your level of willingness to accept things outside of your box is inside your box, right? Once it is something you are absolutely no longer at willing to do, you've stepped completely out of your comfort zone, and... outside of your box?

        How do we know when we've stepped outside of it?At the slightest inkling of discomfort or at the greatest? I happen to be fine with a bit of discomfort at times. Is this inside my box?
        • thumb
          May 5 2014: I think a good case can be made for saying - thinking ? - that all of our thinking is inside a box because there's no way we can encompass all and everything within our limited capacity to think. So, "think outside the box" suggests, I think, that we think outside of our usual box, our usual limitations, our habitual patterns. However, this still leaves us with limitations that constitute an expanded version of our box - which is still a box. So, you can think outside your usual box, but you'll still be inside your expanded box. That means that saying "the box" doesn't work because it's two different boxes, whereas "the box" implies it's the same box.

          But consider that there may be somewhat of a difference in the construction of these two boxes. Whereas our usual box consists primarily of self-imposed limitations, our expanded version may be more limited simply by our lack of capacity for being more inclusive - there's only so much we can take in and process before becoming overwhelmed and succumbing to mental fatigue. Or we may simply be limited by the amount of time we have available to think things through and arrive at some decision. So, while the habitual box consists primarily of self-imposed limitations, the expanded box may consist more of limitation of practicality.

          So, I still think that "think outside the box" means to push past your habitual patterns of thought as far as you are able to. Stretch yourself a bit. But I don't think this can be evaluated according to discomfort felt when getting out of one's comfort zone. While this may sometimes be true for some people, it may also feel really good to break free of old habits and expand one's mental self and be stimulated by exploring new territory. It may be discomforting (frustrating) to be stuck in one's box and unable to mentally deal with challenging questions that seem to demand answers.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.