Thought Boxes

Leo, which is a friend of mine; made a peculiar observation about me, he said that I don’t think inside the box, and I don’t think outside the box; I invent new boxes and think within them. His analogy gave me the perfect conceptual thinking to describe… thoughts.

I’ve often discussed organizing ones life by having a clear file structure, planned life via a digital calendar and of course a well organized task management system. But none of these systems work unless you have a mind set that allows you to use them efficiently.

Thought Boxes is a description of a thought system which many of us probably relate to, it’s simply the natural way we handle thoughts (I think?). I wonder thought, are there people who handle thoughts in a very different way out there? And if so, may I get an elaboration on that?

A graphical representation of  Thought Boxes. Please continue reading for an elaborated explanation.

1. A Thought Box is an enclosed collection of thoughts or ideas that all share a common concept, one may view it as a container for an idea fractal.

1.2 One should only develop and elaborate on matters in direction relation to the concept which is connected to the thought box ones mentation lies within.

1.3 To think of matters not related to the concept within the Thought Box is to think outside that box, one then needs to manage those thoughts in another box, or invent a new one.

1.4 A Thought Box may be networked to one or more other Thought Boxes.

1.5 A thought box always have a Box Summary of it’s more elaborated meaning.

2. To think outside all Thought Boxes is to se a network of the Box Summaries representing different Thought Boxes.

2.1 To observe a Box Summary is to see a map of related Box Summeries.

2.2 To focus the mind on a Box Summary is to enter the Thought Box it represents.

2.3 The mentation should only visit other Thought Boxes which are linked to the Thought Boxe in which the current mentation exists.

2.4 Different Thought Boxes can be of different importance, the importance of the box decided it’s lummination within the whole network of Thought Boxes.

2.5 Different Thought Boxes has different sizes, sizes are relative only to linked Thought Boxes.

2.6 Importance and Size are two different things in the sense that size is relative to the connected Thought Boxes while importance is meassured relative to all Thought Boxes.

2.7 Smaller Thought boxes are mostly accessed via the larger Thought Boxes which they are connected too.

3. The largest Thought Boxes are connected to external information management systems.

3.1 Examples of external information management systems are: document structures, task management systems and calendars.

3.2 One Thought Box can only be represented once in each external information management system.

3.3 New thoughts within a thought box should always be documented in an external information management system if there is an externally documented box wihin the imidiate box network as clears up mental energy for new thoughts.

3.4 The external information storage must be intuitive to simplify the process of reffering to documented thoughts when thinking within a box.

3.5 A thought box which is connected to an external information management system does not disapear until the external connection is removed.

3.6 Modelling based syntaxes are the supreme ways of documenting thoughts.

4. Complexity of documentation and thought should only be made relevant when ones mentation is focused on a specific Thought Box.

4.1 This is a fractal based thought method.

I might elaborate further on this at another time, this is a pretty good summary though.

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  1. Soul Man
    Oct 27, 2010

    Sounds like you are describing some sort of computer. I for one hand think with unlimited association through symbols. No box or trail just a free flowing ocean of information in which i am Deus and call upon any drop of information i deem suitable to the situation.

  2. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 27, 2010

    Soul Man: Sounds interesting, how do you keep it from becoming messy when you’re working on many different things simultaneously? I find my self to day dream in all sorts of directions if I don’t apply a certain discipline to thoughts pattern.

  3. Leo
    Oct 27, 2010

    I think pretty much anyone thinks in boxes – meaning closed, clearly defined systems. Every time you say, for example, that “dogs” are “mammals” or that “pizza” is “food” you verbalize evidence of a hierarchical thought process, with larger categories containing smaller ones. All organized thought works through such systems.

    I believe that this way of thinking originated as a side effect of the act of name-giving. To give something a name, you have to separate it from all that it isn’t, and these definitions provides the building blocks for thought structure.

    Most people think only in the boxes already provided by history – probably because humans seem to have a difficulty thinking wordless thoughts. What I noticed about you is that you do not seem to be limited by this to the same extent. If you stumble upon an idea that has no place in existing structure, you create new structure out of this idea, while most people would simply discard it. This is what is peculiar – not the concept of boxed thinking in itself.

  4. Leo
    Oct 27, 2010


    This, of course does not stop one from freely browsing through these information systems, following no strict train of thought, but instead touching many different ideas and concepts.

    My personal experience is that whenever I get some insight or idea, there is a brief period of zoning out – like diving, reaching the bottom and emerging with something new. I am not aware of these thought processes, if, indeed, they are thoughts at all. They push me right out of context and reality and practically everything else. It certainly does not feel like thinking – it’s actually much closer to the experience of fainting.

    And then – pop – suddenly I acquire an understanding, or come up with a plan. Also, the nature of these plans are practically always based on a shift of perspective. They are normally no real plans of action requiring multiple steps. It’s just the sudden realization that what I thought was a problem really is an opportunity if you look at it from another direction.

    It’s weird. I think people are simply hardwired for different methods of cognition.

  5. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 27, 2010

    Leo: I does indeed seem likely that all organized thought would be working through such a system. But different variations would undoubtedly lead to very different thought patterns. Some people, like Soul Man, might have a very free structure of thought boxes where the mentation runs free. Other minds might be incapable of running free like that in the sense that they mostly have a very linear path of thought. There does seam to be a lot of evidence suggesting that it’s hardwire to a high degree indeed.

    I can very much relate to your description of getting an insight, it’s literally a feeling when everything around me get’s blurry for a little while. And when I’ve swum I mostly have an altered plan or as you say a new perspective. Those moments are wonderful indeed. It’s kind of frustrating when it happens in meetings (and it happens relatively often as one is feed with lots of new information during them) because it might be hard to change other peoples perspective even if it’s crystal clear to you.

    Leo, we should focus more on mapping different kinds of thought patterns. It will be most beneficial knowledge to us when we’re working on both OTL and PMS. It would be fun to devise a number of questions meant to help us get meaningful answers from different kinds of people.

  6. ET
    Oct 27, 2010

    I find it difficult to explain the underlining internal processes to my thinking in a pragmatic way, because thoughts are an integral part of the psyche and work from principles that are comprehensive only to me.

    I don’t consider myself to think within a ‘box’, but rather in a non-sealed circle with small open doors and within the circle are streams of other thoughts that echoes in different strengths/wavelengths. Some might be of ephemeral character, whilst other are of perpetual nature. I also have synesthesia which affects my way of thinking because I can perceive correlation between different ‘spectrums’ of the senses as intertwined, which are segmentary to most people, but for me they are inseparable. I see my thought process/system as a movement, a transformation at various levels.

    I usually identify myself completely with the voice(s) in my head; which I see as the independent flows of involuntary and voluntary thinking and the emotions that accompany them, that you’d think I’m obsessed by them. One’s thinking, i.e. the contents of the mind is obviously conditioned by the past at some level… The essence of any given task consists of some repetitive and persistent thoughts that are dialectical reactions to what you’ve learned.

    In short, inside my skull resides a vivid swarm of different thoughts which are usually of both transitive and intransitive nature. I do not think that I’ve a specific system for my cognition of certain patterns, except that I do my distinctions based on my intuition among other things…

  7. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 27, 2010

    I don’t really se the difference between my boxes and your circles. Your analogy was a bit different but we seem to be explaining the same base concept? Your way of describing it seems to emphasize a more “real time” process whilst mine described a dynamic structure. It might be that the difference lies in just this emphasis?

  8. ET
    Oct 27, 2010

    In retrospective, I see the similarities between our analogies, although the semantic emphasis is structured somewhat differently. But then again, we do share ‘Introverted Intuition’ as our dominant function…

  9. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 28, 2010

    ET: About your different voices, is it possible for those voices to think around different subjects simultaneously?

  10. Alex
    Oct 28, 2010

    Tobias: first of all, you’re ridiculous. lol. This entry is ridiculous. My head hurts just from reading it.

    second of all……maybe on some indeed ‘computer’ level all minds work this way but mine certainly does not. To have so many rules dictating what thinks where and what box and summary goes where is just asinine, and too organized for a feeling mind to comprehend.

    Needless to say, and moving forward with the notation that I agree with what Leo said, “All organized thought works through such systems”, I do NOT possess the rigidity of such a system with my conscious, collective and most important thoughts. (You may wish to argue that I do but if so it’s on that low instinctive level and not something I associate myself with) Rather…I associate each thought with one, or twenty pictures and images (some memories, some made up scenarios pertaining to that thought) and obviously a cluster of varying emotions. I guess if I do have a “thought box” it would contain the thought, those images and memories, and all of the emotions. Imagine having thought boxes full of emotion :’D Your head might explode.

    I also lack the discipline (perhaps the will) to even half-ass collect these thoughts in a semblance of a graph or timeline or chart or any organized ANYTHING, as I’ve told you my thoughts can be compared to tree branches just sort of fumbling out and overlapping and really not following any pattern really, one of those pointless meandering scenarios which I’m sure you, Tobias, will either find brilliant (for ‘aha’ moments) or completely useless as yes most of it does end up forgotten and discarded.

    I think up scenarios for stories in the same sort of manner, I’ll take a base of a story, just one element, and build countless, countless possibilities and little details around it. Over 99% of these end up in the proverbial “trash” not remembered at all, but when one detail or plot point strikes me and I FEEL something with it, it is instantly remembered and stored, so when I’m not thinking of thousands of possible “branches” my mind is imagining and tweaking that good scene, perfecting it so that by the time I actually write it down, it’s already there concretely, just the way I want it.

    That ^ is also how I make decisions, except the “story scenario” would be whatever decision I’m trying to make, and I’ll imagine up the courses and repercussions of that decision, think of things to do/say just as in the story, then by the time I have to make the decision, do what I need to do, or say what I need to say, it’s all rehearsed in my head.

    Needless to say as well, if I haven’t gotten a protocol at that time, I follow pure intuition. Which is ALWAYS LOADS OF FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Except that intuition is loaded with emotion, which can be disastrous or exceptional.

    Anyway I told you recently I have a system for mapping feelings, it’s just not a system :P Same applies for thoughts. I have a system…it’s just not a system :S

  11. ET
    Oct 28, 2010

    Alex: I am a bit curious as to… Why you felt the need to comment on this entry that you clearly think is ‘ridiculous’?

    Tobias: It is possible that different fragments of my thoughts can be active simultaneously have “dialogues.” But I usually experience this in conjunction with ambiguous thoughts.

  12. Leo
    Oct 28, 2010

    I am sorry Alex, but I didn’t get what you were saying. Too many contradictions. Do you mind structuring up your message a bit?

  13. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 28, 2010

    ET: I asked her to write about her thought process so that’s why, albeit that I don’t get the ridiculous part :)

    Concerning your voices, I knew from previous discussion that you may have three or even four different voices when you’re thinking about something. Is it majority vote amongst them on how you’re going to proceed if you for example have a decision to make?

  14. Tobias Wallin (Mentation Away)
    Oct 28, 2010

    Alex: If I understand you correctly, is it the case that you have a sort of emotion based network of “Thought Boxes” or whatever you’d like to call them, collection of thoughts? To clarify my reasoning; your thoughts relate via emotion in contrast to an organized network?

  15. ET
    Oct 29, 2010

    Ah, but I still do not understand the use of unnecessary/demean superlatives that are out of place!

    Haha, I don’t think there is such thing as “majority vote” when it comes to my mind… It’s more like “the past vs the future” and decisions are made, ehh, through past experience, intuition and common sense. I can elaborate it more via face to face interaction!

  16. Alex
    Nov 6, 2010

    Yes Tobias, that’s precisely what I mean.

    And ET: The subjugation of insinuation that I meant anything DEMEANING with the aforementioned comment, is completely incorrect and erroneous. To ascertain precisely what I was attempting to convey, is that PERSONALLY within my own structure (or lack thereof via understanding) I find it comparably cumbersome to decipher the particular method of which Tobias speaks so fluidly. Not a misnomer, but a colloquialism that apparently was misinterpreted as levity or an insult. However, to clarify, it was not.

    Leo: Not sure how you missed all that when Tobias apparently hit the nail on the head???

  17. ET
    Nov 8, 2010

    Alex: I’m not a mind reader… So the first line you wrote may be interpreted literally since it was not carefully worded… because in my world the word ‘ridiculous’ is not synonymous with something positive. But I’m glad that you clarified what you meant.

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