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Expand the Box

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

In a recent podcast, my brother and I discussed the concepts of invisible shackles, the hidden scripts we follow through our lives. We discussed the analogy of The Box (ie: our cultural norms) and how the boundaries of the box limit our thinking. For example, I never imagined that a ‘cycling holiday’ is a thing, until I spoke to friends who go on 'cycling holidays’ twice a year with their families. They grab their bikes, go to France, and follow a cycle route, stopping off at campsites along the way. That’s awesome.

Life becomes richer when we expand our box. We can do that firstly, by travelling. Seeing how others live their lives is an effective way of showing us what’s possible, that might be different to what we’re used to, thus expanding our box. We can also expand our box by hanging out with people from different walks of life. But if we’re students or we’ve got jobs, travelling for extended periods of time can be tricky, and it’s surprisingly hard to make time in our daily lives to actively seek out different people.

I’d like to propose that the easiest ways to expand our box are to (a) read books, and (b) listen to podcasts. Earlier this year, I could never have imagined doing an extended hiking trail, but having spoken to a friend who’s done several, and listened to loads of podcasts with people who regularly hike very long trails, it now seems very possible, and in fact something I’m actively planning to do next year. I’ve expanded my box.

Equally, the other day I met up with a reader called Jake. He was talking about how he’s been reading a tonne of books and listening to a tonne of podcasts over the past few months, and so he was in the process of starting a personal blog. When he mentioned this to his mum, her response was “Why would you start a blog?”. Jake was so deeply ingrained in the culture, his box was so expanded that he was baffled by the question - “Why wouldn’t you start a blog? It’s just such an obviously good thing to do”. The stuff that we consume (our information diet) ends up hugely influencing our world view. We could choose to consume the breaking news, teaching us that the world is a terrible place and bad things happen all the time. Or we could choose to listen to engaging discussions between people doing entirely different things to us. We could expand our box.

LifePodcast

Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.