Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ready For the Paradigm Shift?

In Stephen R. Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes extensively about the concept of paradigm shifts. A paradigm is a roadmap of sorts--its a personal perception of how the world works. Often our life paradigms hold great power over us as we observe the world around us and make judgments about it based on those beliefs. There are many occasions where we believe we have a solid understanding about what is going on. Then something happens to make us see the situation in a whole new light, often upsetting the apple cart in the process.

Covey's book gives a wonderful illustration of a paradigm shift, which I read more than twenty years ago and still remember to this day. It begins on page 30:

     I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one Sunday morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly.....some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.
     Then suddenly, a man and his children entered trhe subway car. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
     The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people's papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
     It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, "Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more?"
     The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciouness of the situation for the first time and said softly, "Oh, you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either."
     Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly, I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn't have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man's pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. "Your wife just died? Oh, I am so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?" Everything changed in that instant.

We all experience similar paradigm shifts every day which change our whole outlook on life. Still, we operate under the illusion that we have all the answers and judge what we encounter accordingly. Time to snap out of it, People!

We don't have all the answers. If we did, the world would not be such a screwed up place! It is this all-knowing attitude--the attitude of the ego--that keeps us at odds with one another! We operate in a world of separation, but separation is not the goal. As matter of fact, if we continue this stance of fighting and choosing sides society will continue to degenerate! Judgment only brings more judgment. Fighting only brings more fighting. Violence only brings more violence.

It's time to shift the paradigm--time to understand this world concept of separation is leading us to our own demise! It is only through acceptance we can balance out the judgment. It is only through peace we can balance out the violence. It is only through love we can balance out the hate. It's time to replace the old way of thinking with the new! Are you ready for the paradigm shift?

1 comment:

  1. But change is so very uncomfortable - so sad there are no commenters : (