Don’t Get Boxed In — 11 Tips

The Box

James Marsden & Cameron Diaz in "The Box"

Last night, my husband and I watched the DVD of The Box, a sci-fi psychological thriller starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as Norma and Arthur Lewis, a couple in dire financial straits. A mysterious man delivers a seemingly innocuous box to their home and tells them that they will receive $1 million in cash if they will push the button inside the box. The catch? Someone they don’t know will have to die in exchange.  [Spoiler alert!!!] After much deliberation, Norma presses the button not really believing that someone will die…and everything goes downhill from there. Ultimately, Arthur is forced to choose between killing his wife or allowing their young son to suffer an agonizing fate for the rest of his life. [Spoiler alert #2!!!] The couple chooses to end Norma’s life claiming, “There is no other way.”

At this point in the movie, my husband argues out loud, “There’s always another way.”  And that is why I love him.  With an engineering background, he’s a great problem solver. But most of all, he has a positive attitude. No matter how bleak turn of events might seem, he is always able to find that “other way” of approaching a problem. He never lets himself or his family get boxed in.

Here are some helpful hints on how to find that other way, or how not to get boxed in when it feels like you have no choices:

  1. Take a breath. Problems seem more manageable when you are calm. As Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. says in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “I find if I just sit down and think…the situation presents itself.”
  2. Surround yourself with people who support you, and brainstorm with them. And drop the dead weight;  people who bring you down will just smother you with negativity.
  3. Network with new people or those with whom you may not have spoken in a while. Alternatives are out there, and you never know who might have the answer. Think of it like a treasure hunt. The hidden gem might just be around the next corner.
  4. Try something new – it doesn’t have to be drastic. Maybe cook a new recipe, start a blog, or tune into a TV show you’ve never watched before. (That’s how I got hooked on NCIS.) It will open your mind to new possibilities.
  5. Get some sleep.  Your judgment is clearer when your mind is refreshed.
  6. Eat healthy foods that are good for your brain, like wild salmon, nuts and avocados. A healthy brain is better equipped to tackle problem solving.
  7. Drink enough water. Your brain is 90% water; if you’re not properly hydrated, your brain won’t function well.
  8. Temporarily set emotions aside. It’s easier to identify options when looking at challenges logically.
  9. Take stock of your resources or assets, both tangible and intangible (family, friends, knowledge, experience, money, love, faith), and factor them into your problem-solving equation.
  10. Ask for help — don’t be afraid or too proud. There are no rules that say you have to go it alone. Your friends want to help you — that’s part of the definition of “friend.” And when you are in a position to do so, be the friend who helps someone else.
  11. Listen to your heart, keep the faith and know that if you keep working at it, a better solution will materialize.

There’s always another way.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Donna Killough. Donna Killough said: Don't get boxed in. Some tips for finding alternate choices: […]

  2. Barbara says:

    Thanks, Donna – and hubby

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