Get out of the box: Calisthenics for the mind

From the early part of our lives, we are taught to think inside the box. We teach our children to color inside the lines and to write between the lines.

We fall into routines–taking the same way to work, using the same recipe without altering it, eating at the same restaurant, sitting in the same seat at church.

Routines give us security, but routines make us lazy. They are merely ruts we travel in that prohibit us from seeing life from a new and exciting perspective.

Educational researchers now tell us that children begin losing their creativity at age six and that, each year thereafter, creativity rapidly declines. It is not a coincidence that most children begin school at age six. It is there that our so-called educational wizards begin to mold their minds into societal treadmills and begin to whittle away at their individuality.

Scientists report that, as adults, we utilize only about 10 percent of our minds. Ten percent! Are you like me, wondering what happens in the remaining 90 percent?

Our minds, just like muscles and bones in our body, need stimulation. We must “exercise” them in order to further growth. Most of us do exercise our brains, but only the same portions repeatedly. We need to challenge our minds for them to expand, and we must not limit them to the constraints of our finite knowledge.

God has created us in His image, but, unlike us, He is not limited to finite thought and conception. We must, there, tap into the supernatural to unlock the doors of creativity with which we were endued at birth.

We must stretch our minds. We should ask new questions every day. How often do you ask yourself, What if? When was the last time you discovered something new?

Each day should be a new masterpiece in which we learn something new, discover something new or invent something new.

“Man’s mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions” (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

We are prone to think and work inside the box of tradition and our comfort zones. That box is always crowded because most of us are secure with what we know and are apprehensive about the unknown. Outside the box, however, there is plenty of room. Only the bold dare. Only the courageous venture outside the box.

You don’t have to be a corporate executive or salesperson to wander outside the box. Use it in your everyday life.

Take a new way to work, add something different to that favorite recipe. Try a difference gas station or a new toothpaste. Read a different newspaper or check out a new website. Make a new friend. Write down what you believe about the Bible, then try to prove yourself wrong. The changes will dramatically affect the way you view your life.

When someone says, “We can’t”, replay “Why not?” Then, find a way. When someone says, “Let’s don’t,” say, “let’s do!”

Consider bringing in a six-year-old and asking for his advice. You may be surprised.

Disney World was built for kids. How did the men and women create the shows, train the character animals and create other activities for kids? They rode around Disney World in strollers to see how a child saw it. Yes, adults pushed other adults around in over-size strollers so they could see the Disney creation from a child’s perspective. Incredibly scriptural, don’t you think? It opened up incredible new avenues.

“No matter how old you get, if you can keep the desire to be creative, you’re keeping the man-child alive,” says national seminar speaker John Cassavetes.

Here are some locks we place on our brains:

  • Follow the rules; don’t break the mold.
  • Be practical; stick with what you know works.
  • “We’ve never done it that way before.”
  • Be careful. Don’t make mistakes.
  • “I don’t feel comfortable doing it that way!”

You are sitting on a vast untapped gold mine– your mind and God’s wisdom. Imagine if you only began to use 20 percent of your brain, or even 30 percent. What would then happen in your life? It will not happen unless you first begin to exercise it. Set it free! Let it soar!

Most people look at things as they are and ask “Why”? Teach yourself to look at things as they could be and ask, “Why not?”

The decision is yours. Stay in the we’ve-always-done-it-that-way box of tradition, or step into vast new horizons. God desires for you to experience the fullness of joy, and He will leave you to that experience through new fields. Take a piece of paper and, for each day of the next week, change something in your life. Read a different newspaper or blog, or take a different way to work or school — each day. Sit on the other side of the church this Sunday. Lie in the driveway with a child and look at the stars one night. Try a different restaurant.

Remember, Joshua 1:9 exhorts us to “be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

At the end of the week, you will have a different perspective on life.

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