Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

10 Steps You Can Take Today To Unbox Your Life

The idea of making a radical change in the way you live life and the way you think can be an intimidating undertaking for anyone. As human beings we love comfort, familiarity, and ease but these things are the antithesis of Unboxed Living. If we are to expand our minds and truly experience all that life and the world we live in has to offer we must overcome those hesitations. Living consciously only happens through deliberate actions and tangible steps. As I have said before doing something, no matter its seeming insignificance, is the most effective tool in making that radical alteration in your life a reality.

One of my most ardent and sought after goals is to offer useful tools to people that can help them on their journey of Unboxed Living. I believe in the power of inspiration and the impact of emotional and mental challenge, but at the same time practical tools with real world application are just as integral to our Unboxed adventure. All of these things may not be applicable in your life but even if you take one thing and do it you are headed in the right direction. So what can we do?

Try a style of food you have never eaten

Fact: The best way to experience any culture is through the cuisine. I know, bold statement, but I stand by it. Whether you are naturally an adventurous eater or you eat the same five meals every week, there is food out there that can expand your understanding of other cultures. In addition to getting to experience some amazing food the setting itself can give you lots of new insights into other cultures. The décor, music, customs, even the utensils you use offer new and valuable knowledge of a place far outside the small box you live in.

Do something you’ve never done

The opportunity for creativity and variation in this one is incredible. Maybe you have never ridden on a motorcycle or paddled a kayak. Maybe you’ve always wanted to bungee jump or skydive. Maybe try a new sport or go on a hike if outdoor stuff is not your thing. No matter what it is you choose to do the key is to remove your thought process from the predictable patterns and predisposed activities you participate in day-to-day, thus expanding your mind and exposing yourself to new parts of your world. You just never know when a new passion might take hold if you never try new things.

Strike up conversation on public transit

I ride the bus often and have found that some of the most enlightening and most often entertaining exchanges I have in my day come from simply talking to folks on the bus. Even if you don’t ride the bus, engaging people you pass by on your busy way from A to B is a perfect way to learn new things and expose yourself to points of view you might not understand. I firmly believe that the only true way to test our understanding is to submit it to lively dialogue and allow others to inject their thoughts into it. If nothing else I promise you that by plugging into the people who populate your world will help you feel more connected to the place you call home.

Watch a documentary

This is something that I wasn’t always a proponent of. Documentaries always struck me as boring, pretentious, and for the artsy crowd and not something I was interested in. As with most things that are positive in my life, my wife Kolena got me hooked on them. There is a whole army of brilliant, bold, and supremely Unboxed people out there creating stimulating and valuable works of art and film. The spectrum of topics is immense and the opportunity for learning is without parallel. From the Dalai Lama to Going Green, from education to e-commerce and back again there is something for everyone. Go to your local video store or to your favorite online movie medium and just pick one. Even if you don’t like it I promise you will walk away having learned something new, and isn’t that what Unboxed Living is?

Here is a trailer for one of my favorites

Read, read, and read some more

Much like the value of documentary films, the written word carries with it a power for expanding the mind that is unmatched in our world. Do not limit yourself to one style or genre either; find value and worth in the full continuum of works. I personally prefer non-fiction as I find the range of new things I can learn impossible to pass up. That being said I find myself limiting myself sometimes to only those types of books and passing up maybe a mystery novel or science fiction story. Let’s all read more while at the same time reading something outside the regular lineup we choose from. I will start with my next book and let you know how it goes.

Go to a World Music concert

Much like trying new types of food above, listening to music from around the world can give you invaluable insights into the lives and cultures of the people who produce it. Most often the music a culture produces reflects in at least some ways the values and history of its people. The instruments, lyrics, and passion by which the musicians share their rhythms is like glimpsing a small part of what makes that culture who they are. My personal favorites: African drum and any kind of Reggae, Ska, or Caribbean music.

Park the car

If we are to try out #3 on our list above then we are going to have to change our driving habits. Living Unboxed is also about living consciously and understanding how our individual actions affect the larger world. How much we consume resources, especially fossil fuels, plays a large part in this and by making simple, easy choices to not drive we can make a huge impact. In addition, utilizing public transit, walking, riding a bike, or carpooling allows us to see our city or town in a new way. We can literally get out of our box-on-wheels and experience the world from a new point of view.

Shop local

Along the same lines as choosing not to drive the car sometimes, making a conscious effort to consume food resources in a more responsible manner helps us appreciate our connection to the larger world. Our country produces enough food to feed each and every person for the rest of their lives. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be taking advantage of that fact. Granted, sometimes it is hard to access local foods or afford them as they can be more expensive, but no matter what we all can do something small to practice this. Even if that means just replacing one meal a week with locally grown selections it will impact the world in huge ways. Plus, fresh local food is always more tasty than food that has to travel across the world.

Get outdoors

There is something about the feeling of finding yourself in complete solitude, apart from the noise of society and the distractions of the modern world that lifts the soul and enriches your life. In that quiet space the mind is free to explore the intricacies of the human experience and muse on what it means to be alive. It is a natural phenomenon that experiencing the beauty and majesty of nature leads to a better understanding of what makes this world so awe-inspiring. For me I find the sacred in being in nature, a place where my mental and emotional state become intimately acquainted with the world of spiritual singularity and in that place I find what it means to be alive. Surrounded by the splendor of the landscape and the immensity of the space we are reminded how small we really are and how insignificant once paramount issues truly are. To me that is a gift that we are all given and should take advantage of.

Diablo Lake Washington

copyright Tanner Colton 2012


As you know service is near and dear to my heart and something I feel passionate about. There is no greater weapon in the fight against close-mindedness than serving others. I could dedicate an entire post or guide to this topic (which I will be doing soon) and still not even begin to uncover the true power and transformational capabilities of true service. Take a step and volunteer at a local non-profit or community group one day a week. Even if it is just an hour the impact you can make on others and on yourself cannot be found in any other capacity. It seems we have lost the collective feeling of responsibility to each other that should exist in such a rich and vibrant society as ours. By choosing to serve we can all help in reigniting the fire of social consciousness and compassion that is so lacking in our communities.

 You don’t have to do all of these, or any of these for that matter. What you should strive for is a daily act of defiance against the status quo and the boxes in which society puts us in. Find what works best for you and pursue that path with vigor and enthusiasm. The seeming simplicity of the step does not matter, what matters is the act of taking said step. How far you go is simply the product of placing one step in front of another and looking forward towards an Unboxed Life.

 What simple steps will you take today? Share your ideas and inspire us all with your efforts.

lake photo: Taken by Tanner Colton copyright 2012

stair photo by: Jessica


11 comments on “10 Steps You Can Take Today To Unbox Your Life

  1. The Professor
    June 2, 2012

    I saw the Dalai Lama speak at the university where I live. It was a very enlightening experience. Great video, and great advice.

    Mark Blasini

    • Tanner Colton
      June 2, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Mark-
      I have not had the privlage of seeing him in person yet. He came to the University of Washington a few years ago in Seattle and I was out of town and missed it. Hopefully I will get a chance some day. That is so cool you got to see him. I’m glad you found something of value here, thanks for the support. Take care.

  2. Trista Veith
    June 3, 2012

    I like the thought about food! Sometimes I find myself cooking the same things over and over, its just not right! I think I’ll try to make it to the farmers market this week and pick an ingredient i have never used before. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Tanner Colton
      June 3, 2012

      Awesome Trista! Good for you. I hope it goes good and do let us know what you end up making. New food is always fun and often gives us a chance to explore new things and new places. Have fun!

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