Danielle Grant
Danielle Grant
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Julia Proud
Every problem can be solved using various methods. Just like in Mathematics, there are different ways to solve a problem but not all of them are elegant, or equally fast or equally creative.
Thinking outside the box implies the ability to make connections that aren't easily noticed by everyone.
So, to answer your question : yes, thinking outside the box is different from usual thinking and at the same time, it is not...
You see, as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as 'usual thinking'. It's just thinking. Some people are more naturally inclined to analyze, classify, organize, split hairs and drive themselves insane with their round about way of processing situations and problems. Others are pretty straight forward and linear. Most of us though, are a combination of the two extremes. 
We torment ourselves trying to solve issues and forsee problems by going deep into it, researching and so on, but only when we are learning or when we are emotionally invested in something, or when, simply, the straight forward approach didn't work the first time around.
We also rely on fast paced methods that allow us to make quick decisions and move forward without lingering too much on things that we are either used to or not so much into, or maybe these are the things we have an affinity towards and we are comfortable tackling, like a writer feels about putting thoughts into written words, but that same writer may not feel the same about putting thoughts into spoken words while addressing a number of people and find that more difficult.
Humans are complex and to classify their thought patterns and decide that some think one way or the other is ... actually quite human. We classify and name things — even the way poeple think — but that doesn't make things one way or another.
The generally accepted definition of inside or outside the box thinking is quite simple and here is its translation :
He/she thinks inside the box means — he/she thinks like the majority of people and complies and adheres to conventions, to what is generally accepted and thus, he/she walks roads traveled more often (for various reasons including cultural, traditional, professional and so on reasons);
He/she thinks outside the box  means — he/she thinks unlike most people I know (notice the subjective point of view here), he/she thinks in an unusual way, making connections where I never would have thought there were any and reaching conclusions I didn't even consider.
Always consider such classifications as subjective. What is unusual to one may be the norm to another. 
What may seem outside the box to you may be common in a certain domain or to some people who have come accross that certain issue countless times and had already tried all of the conventional ways of solving the problem and are now thinking outside the box from the position that their experience offers.
Wow, I have ranted about this quite a lot but it's all in the hopes that you clarify your own thoughts on the matter. You may agree with some of it, or with none of it, but I am sure you will reach your own conclusions and grow from them, and that is all that this thinking nonsense is about anyway — growth.