Tag Archives: jobs

Musings: Thinking Inside the Box

Today’s topic is: “Where or when do your best ideas come to you?” 

We’ve all heard the expression “thinking outside the box” meaning to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. But I was wondering recently if literally thinking inside the box was such a bad idea.


During our long winters here in southeastern Minnesota, I spend about 80% of my waking hours in our living room. It has comfortable chairs, a welcoming wood stove radiating cozy heat, the television, VCR, and Roku, and enough space for the children to play or run around without getting hurt. Our living room also has lots of natural light and a stunning view all year long.

View from the Livingroom, phoebedecook.com

Day after day, month after month, I stare out the large picture windows. And while the birds visiting the nearby feeder change along with the number of green leaves, the inside of this little box doesn’t. The brown walls, white trim, tan carpet, white ceiling, and all the furniture are static.

Do you think that people need a change of scenery to spark creative thought? Or is it possible to have an epiphany in the middle of one’s living room?

I wonder because for the last few years, my husband has been considering a career change but he’s not sure exactly what he wants to do next. Our original plan was to go on a road trip around the U.S. and see what inspired him. Who knows, maybe he will be driving across Texas and realize that he really wants to become a windmill repair man. (That’s what our 3-year-old announced last time we drove by a wind farm with a few that weren’t spinning.) But we haven’t had a chance to take that trip yet.

I’ve had a couple of creative epiphanies just as I was trying to fall asleep and during my daily walks down the driveway. But maybe that was because I finally had an uninterrupted 15 minutes to think.

Until we get a chance to travel outside of our little box, maybe the key is to think outside the box while being inside the box… or am I just babbling nonsense now?

Where/when do your best ideas come to you? Leave me a comment.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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