Living outside of the box + how to know if you are!
Living outside of the box. What does this mean to you? For me, I guess it means questioning why we do the certain things we do. And deciding whether we actually want to do them.
Living outside of the box doesn’t mean that you can’t make choices that would be considered “in the box”. But it does mean that you’ve made considered, conscious decisions along the way. And pushed your boundaries a little.
That you are not bound by invisible walls created by your friends, family, upbringing, your culture and the society you live in.
It’s important to make this distinction.
That we are talking about the invisible walls. Because our life can be shaped by family, culture and our beliefs in the best way. In a way we embrace and cherish. In a way that brings us meaning.
When we choose it.
But sometimes our lives are shaped by things we didn’t question. The sort of “it’s just what you do” or “everyone else does this” thinking. In the same way thinking outside of the box means to challenge some of our assumptions, living outside of the box takes this a step further.
What does living outside of the box look like?
It’s not something you could describe universally. You can’t just say it’s living off the grid, working for yourself or homeschooling your kids, for example. These things often do come when people take a good, hard think about the sort of life they want to live. They can stem from making more thoughtful, conscious decisions. Just be careful not to create a new box!
The reason I say you couldn’t universally describe an “out of the box” life, is that, let’s say you were homeschooled as a kid, and your sisters and brothers are now homeschooling their kids. Then you might just be doing it because it’s expected of you. Because the closest people around you are doing it that way. Maybe state-run schooling is a better option for you and your family. (Or maybe not! It’s just an example :))
So it’s a really personal way of creating a life. Living outside of the box enables you to create a more meaningful life.
Living inside the box – it’s just not for everyone.
There are some people who are happy living inside the box. And I don’t just mean because they don’t know any better. I mean they are comfortable there. They might prioritise keeping others happy and feel happy swimming with the current. It’s just their thing And that is so totally OK. But if you’re not that kind of person (yep, I’ve got my hand up), and you know it, well, you just don’t wanna be living in the box. It’s not for you.
Wait. What? There’s a box?
And probably there are some people, in between, who didn’t even realise there was a box. Who didn’t really think about how societal norms contribute to their decisions.
Or how advertising shapes the way they see the world.
If they stop to think about some of the decisions they have made along the way, quite often the answer might just be “I thought you had to do that. Everyone else does”. Like going to university or college straight outta high school. Or working a 9 to 5 your whole life until you can retire at 65.
Dipping a toe outside of the box.
So perhaps you are wondering now, just how firmly in the box you are?
Here are a few things for you to consider, and maybe encourage you to think about where you’d truly like to be.
The path through life.
Let’s start off easy! 🙂 If you think life consists of schooling, college degree, building a career, by a house, marriage, kids, working till you’re 65 and then enjoying a modest retirement… you’re living in the box! Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with these things… in fact, I’ve done most of them myself.
And certainly, these represent a huge percentage of people on the planet because it actually works pretty well. It can lead to a happy, enjoyable life. For sure! BUT… don’t think you have to follow this path. We create our own worlds and it’s important to create one where you find happiness and meaning.
Finances and budgets.
Whether you make a lot or a little, everyone struggles at some point with having enough cash flow to match their wants and needs. But take a moment to consider your list of wants and needs. And whether you really need them.
This is a fun one to dig a little deeper on too. How much of your current needs are dictated by your current job. Childcare, travel, parking, your wardrobe, brought lunches? How many of these needs simply disappear if you weren’t in your current job?
It’s easy when you’re living in the box to think you need to buy your coffee out, pay your monthly cellphone and netflix bills, and incur a great, big fat student loan.
BUT IT’S JUST NOT TRUE!
You actually don’t need to go to university or college the year after high school. And not even straight after your gap year! You don’t need to rack up a student loan before you’ve decided what you want to pursue.
You might not need that monthly plan on your cell phone if you’re not actually texting and phoning on that thing anymore.
And Netflix? Sure, if you love it. But if it’s like your gym membership card, and just gathering dust? Ditch it!
Parenting… (yup, I’m going there).
Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging things most of us do. But on top of the everyday challenges, sometimes ‘living inside the box’ can heap an extra load of pressure on parents. Like the stress and tears and tantrums every single night at bath-time. When my kids were young, I didn’t bath them every night. Gasp! I know! But I was happier and they were happier.
Learning how to think and live outside of the box is a skill worth developing and will get easier with time and practice. You can start with asking yourself why you made some major decisions in your life, or by trying to find just one thing you’ve done just because you thought you had to.
Living outside of the box is one of the best ways to question our own assumptions around life. It allows us to challenge the reasons why we do things and opens up a whole new world of choices.
Beyond the box may just be your best life. The meaning and happiness that you are looking for!