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Psychology: thoughts outside of the box

We hear a lot these days about the need to be creative and innovative. We are told we need to think ’outside of the box’. Why is it more important now than it used to be? We have always innovated and been invented.

Man is the only animal to innovate and make use of sophisticated tools. Are we now becoming less creative? Do we now need more routine and less freedom? Escaping from that box that restricts our thinking is difficult. We are largely told what to think by the media. We are bombarded with information and it’s mostly biased. Finding unbiased news is impossible. Every media channel has to compete for viewers, readers or listeners and so there is always a tendency to sensationalise or glamourize the news. How did we manage without all this brain washing when man was primitive and inventing the arrow head and the wheel? Maybe, that was freedom? Maybe wandering around looking at what nature has to offer freed the minds of early man and allowed the primitive seeds of creativity and innovation to grow in their minds.

Does that mean we need to commune with nature and give up our creature comforts? I don’t think so, but taking time out from the brain washing does seem to improve creativity. The freedom to look at things without being told what to look at, to marvel at nature without some commentator telling us what to like and to wander freely and explore seems to free the mind and some people would say free the spirit too.

We are meant to keep busy, children complain when they have nothing to do. Boredom is seen as mentally unhealthy, but we do get bored because we constantly look for someone else to ‘entertain’ us. I saw cyclists yesterday exploring the canal towpaths. They didn’t seem bored. They were very aware of everything. One slip or mistake and they would have been in the canal, but they rode without mistakes and stopped to talk to anglers. It seemed like the experience was not only making them more alert, but more confident too. We don’t usually stop to talk to strangers do we? The exercise and the blood flowing to the brain would have an effect too.

Even getting back to nature by spending an afternoon in the garden can help you think outside of the box, because you mind is free to wander. It is free to admire the buttercups and daisies. Then on Monday morning when you need to impress your boss with a new idea, your mind still has wings; you’re still flying, not trapped by the mental straight jacket we all find ourselves in. Escaping from the box that imprisons the mind is even more important for writers, artists and designers. The break from media intrusion on the weekend, even if it’s only on Sunday afternoon will help create the ambience for creativity that will  last through the week.

What do you think? Do you want to free your mind? Please share your thoughts in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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