Get Out of Your Little Boxes

September 16, 2011

There is a song, written long ago by Malvina Reynolds, called “Little Boxes” that was written on-the-fly going through Daly City, California that describes not only a lot of cities, but people as well.  In reading the lyrics of the song, the people of North Dakota and the rest of the nation realized something about themselves and the way they live.  They put themselves in their “little boxes” and stayed there.

“And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes

And they all came out the same.

And there are doctors and lawyers,

And business executives,

And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky

And they all look the same.”

These lyrics (and that is only one verse of it) reminded people to find some individuality.  Not everything dished out in life is in your best interest.  It’s important to find your own way and the path in life that suits you.  It is also important to remember that someone else’s success may not be the success that you are looking for.  Success is relative to each person.  Your neighbor’s success might be that he bought a boat from his hard-earned money, while your success might be that you finally paid off your car.  In the long term, his might be that he was able to retire with a full pension and benefits, while yours might be that you have built your own successful business that you love.  Whatever the case may be, you have to relish in your own successes, and not those of someone else.  Break out of your “little boxes.”

If you crawl into those boxes and stay there, your successes will not be many, and will not satisfy that hunger that you have for changes.  Although changes can be scary, you need them to keep your life fresh and interesting.  Change gives you the challenges you need to be your own person, instead of comparing yourself to someone else.

Just for reference, the term “ticky-tacky” refers to the shoddy materials that were used in making tract housing that all looked the same.  Malvina Reynolds is credited with the definition, and it is included in many dictionaries.  However, the intention of Malvina’s song was to point out that people need to be individuals, not patterning their lives after someone else’s just because it all looks good on the outside.  So don’t build your life out of ticky-tacky.

Photo credit: Emma Jean Hogbin

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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