Thinking inside versus outside the box


Think outside the box – a cliché in business world. If you agree that creation is essentially dual in nature, and that seemingly opposite principles are ‘bound’ to each other by tangible or intangible forces, then it should not be difficult to understand that the conceptual opposites – problem and solution – should also occur in pairs. In highly competitive business environments where heavy-weight words like radical change, groundbreaking technology, breakthrough invention, innovation, etc. are tossed around abundantly because they are required at times, misunderstood some times, and sounds fashionable many a time, it’s difficult to see the sensibility and practicality of ‘thinking inside the box’. This approach looks at the problem as a part of the system that has one or a few ‘wrong notes’; a local-area malfunctioning that requires fixing and that is all. The fixing or the intervention is done from within the system using the very elements and processes of the system. This is an organic approach, and by its very nature thinking-inside-the-box approach gives a sustainable solution to the problem. It is sustainable because the solution is brought about from within the system by using its own constituents without introducing a foreign element. When a totally new element or process is brought in to a system to address a problem, which is what a think- outside-the-box approach would do, the new element dominates the existing system due to the importance attached to it by human intervention, and it tends to change the entire set-up around it in compliance with it’s own nature. Eventually, the whole system is subjected to unnecessary change, when all that is required is a simple, local addressing of the problem area. Yes, sometimes the very foundation requires change. But that is altogether a different situation. The situation in this case is a need for invention. And this requires out-of-the-box thinking because thinking out of the box is essentially a creative and inventive act. But for finding solutions to problems and even for improving a situation, the way is to think inside the box. It would do much good if we know what we are addressing and what we want – whether a problem or a system-change and whether a solution or an invention. The following quote sums it well:

“If you never venture outside the box, you will probably not be creative. But if you never get inside the box, you will certainly be stupid.”
– Christopher Peterson

To do: Nothing


Don’t feel guilty about it.  Since ages, society has conditioned us to be competitive, a doer, go getter, or a ‘die hard person’. There is a strong preconceived notion that the one who is workaholic is a worthwhile being. The one who takes the least vacation breaks or no breaks at all, which is even better, is the most trusted employee. Just go a layer deeper beneath the ‘skin’ of these so called workaholics and you will find an unhappy, desperate person trying hard to attach his or her identity with the work they do. Such an attitude is a trap. Self identification with anything external,  however holy it might seem, is a trap. It is a trap to your freedom of growth.  What I mean by “to do : nothing”  is to do absolutely nothing. Not even partying or picnicking with friends or family. I mean to say, by doing nothing, you are spending time with YOUR SELF – The center of your universe. Unless You are conscious and healthy you cannot relate or respond to all that is around you, including your most loved ones. It’s extremely important to allot a ‘do nothing’  time for yourself and spend quality time with you and yourself. Strictly between you and yourself. You may do whatever you wish… sing, paint, listen to music, read and reflect upon a book, enjoy the nature, or anything or ‘nothing’ that cleanses your inner being and space of all the ego and emotional rust and dust that got collected during the course of the week. The more often you clean your inner self, the more neat and healthy you are, inwardly, which is the pivotal point of all your outward activities.

“We join spokes together in a wheel, 
but it is the center hole 
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot, 
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house, 
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being, 
but non-being is what we use.”

– Lao Tzu

I just took some time off my ‘To-do-nothing day’ to post this blog. Rest of the day is going to be me, myself, and Beethoven’s music.



Simple, beautiful joys of Life,

Those joys that does not thrive on someone else’s sorrow,

Those joys that are free for all, anywhere, any time,

And knows ‘no pain or fear or guilt’,

The one who cannot afford such joys , for what ever reason, is the real loser.

But my God lives in such joys.

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“When ambition enters, creativity disappears…because an ambitious man cannot be creative, because an ambitious man cannot love any activity for its own sake”     – Osho

Ambitious people with dead set plans and goals never experiment because of the fear of failure.  I have never read or heard of an ambitious artist or an ambitious scientist. Creativity and experimentation are the two sides of the same coin. Breakthrough inventions come as answers to breakthrough questions and profound art is born out of adulatory wonder. A scientist wants to know. Knowledge is his love. An artist wants to express. Expression is his love. Nothing less, nothing more.  They have no preconceived notions or expectations out of their experiments or art. Surprisingly, it is these people with no set agenda, no goal or road maps, who erect landmarks in the landscape of humanity. Not to say that ambitious people are wrong or inferior. They do have their place in the world. They create the material world, the ‘utilitarian’ world. But the experimentalists create the intellectual world. They make the world beautiful.