5 Ways to GET Outside the Box

Riding the train into work faced with a detour as one of the stations in my path had been hit by a power outage. The trio of teenage girls behind me that kept bumping into me as they couldn’t seem to keep their balance in the sardine can. And the guy I had to move away (as far away) from (as possible) because he reeked of urine—at least I think it was urine…

There’s gotta be an easier way than this…

I think part of the reason that we’re so miserable as a whole is that we’ve grown accustomed to living in boxes. Some of these boxes are a little more obvious, like apartments and condos that barely fit your bed, or the cars we spend more time in than what might be healthy as we faced gridlocked traffic day after day after day.

But then you have the boxes that’re harder to see—such as keeping people around us who bring us down rather than propel us forward in life. Or perhaps feeling stuck in a job that we don’t love despite our efforts to find new employment. There’re always boxes—the trick to being in control of your life is knowing how to think outside of them.

A box is anything that can be used to contain something else. In the context of our lives, this could be our freedoms, our creativity, our opinions and thoughts—we can be contained in just about any way conceivable. and there’re enough people out there who’ll box us in — knowingly or unknowingly—so we must be able to identify these boxes before they trap us in, the lid sealing shut behind us.


  • Do you feel constantly frustrated with life?
  • Are you often tired or dispassionate?
  • Are you unable to see a bright future for yourself?
  • Have you tried to do something multiple times, only to have it fail on each and every attempt?
  • Is your first mode of communication usually sarcasm?
  • Do you often envy others rather than be happy for their successes?

If any of these sounds like you, you’re very likely trapped in a box.

So if you’re in a box that you don’t want to be in, what do you do?


1: Recognize the bounds of the box that’s trapped you

Like any good recovery program in rehab, you can’t escape the box if you don’t know what it looks like. You’ll need to think long and hard on this—the boxes of which we speak do not have a physical location, and boxes can contain other lesser boxes.

Going back to that job example, if you’re constantly getting turned down for promotions, you might be quick to blame it on rotten, unfair work culture. Maybe that’s true. But what might be a bigger problem may be something about you that’s turning potential employers off. Maybe an attitude toward work or cockiness that presents itself in interviews. The work culture would only be a smaller box within the box of your personal problems.

2: Tell yourself what you plan to do to escape the box

Now that you can “see” the box, it’s time to plan how to escape it. T