Word count: 2262. Avg read time: 10 minutes.
Note: As with all my articles if you’d rather listen to them than read, simply scroll to the bottom or click here.
A while ago somebody I knew had asked that question on Facebook. Ever since he posted the question it really got me thinking about what is a paradigm shift, should we have them and does it help to have them?
For those that might not know, a paradigm is just a framework or worldview. Some people like to think of it as a container of ideas.
A paradigm is an outlook on life or a belief system that we all hold about certain things. These belief systems often times are given to us by other people unless we do the work and come up with our own belief systems.
Those that their own paradigms are often criticized because their belief system flies in the face of the current social norms. A few people that had a paradigm changing world view that challenged social norms were Ghandi, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King to name a few. Basically any revolutionary is a person that holds a world changing paradigm and offers that to the people.
Is it good to have a paradigm shift?
It depends on what you want out of life. For example what if your paradigm is to avoid trusting men or you don’t like a certain race. When you meet a man that you can trust it causes you to rethink your paradigm.
When you meet a person from another race (which is why I highly encourage traveling) who is the opposite of what you thought, it causes you to rethink your paradigm. These are examples of a good paradigm shift.
But what if you have a paradigm shift about how the world works? What if you suddenly realize that the corporation you’re working for is harming people or destroying the earth?
This happens all the time. What do you do then?
Or what if you are a pastor or priest and start questioning your religion? What if you work in the medical field and realize drugs and chemicals are harming more people then they’re helping?
What do you do then?
Many people avoid having a paradigm shift at all costs. I get it and completely understand. Who wants their entire world view to crumble? It’s almost like having a mid life crisis. It feels like you’re entire life is falling apart in front of you.
If you’ve worked all your life as a pastor and suddenly realize you have the wrong religion, what do you do then? Marriages break up over this (I’ve seen this in my own life), people get hurt and families get torn apart.
Changing your world view with a paradigm shift is not easy to face. It’s much easier to stay in a safe place with your job, your ideas and your comfortable life than it is to question everything you believe in.
We humans do everything we can to seek out comfort and to buffer any potential circumstance that would cause us to grow or change. We build houses to insulate us from the outside environment. We put money away for “retirement” so we can live a safe happy life in our golden years. We store up food for the winter. We go to the gym and take care of our health so we don’t get sick.
We don’t like to face adversity.
But questioning your beliefs forces you to get to the edge of comfort and face adversity head on. Why do this? Why challenge yourself and question your current paradigm when the cost is so high? Why force yourself off the edge of certainty into the unknown abyss of uncertainty?
That’s a good question.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to do that just because I do. With that said I think it’s an important skill for people to seek out. If you’re reading this right now, I’m guessing you have a pretty open mind and are a person who’s interested in challenging themselves with new ideas.
One of the main problems with paradigms and world views is that we hold on tightly to them, almost to the extent that our identity, ego, personality and emotion becomes intertwined with that world view.
Once that paradigm is indistinguishable from the essence of who you are (or think you are) than it becomes nearly impossible to decouple the two.
This is why I make it a practice to meditate, do Qigong and yoga as much as I can. I’m constantly reminding myself that the core essense of who I am has nothing whatsoever to do with my thoughts, my emotions, my desires, my opinions or anything. Who I am is not any of those things.
You might say, who would I be without any of those things?
Interesting question when you really think about it.
That “who”, the silent observer of all those things is really the eternal you. When you really understand who you are, you quickly realize that these ideas we hold and opinions we assert are just a small slice of the pie of everything that makes you, you.
When we release that cold death grip from all these things that make us human, it becomes really easy to let ideas come and let ideas go so that they can pass right through us.
The idea might serve us for a while until we find another idea that serves us better at that stage in life. Ideas are like the tools inside a tool box.
The tools we use to build a house are different than the tools we need to build a fork lift. We use the tools to get the job done. We would never confuse the tools with the completed house or even worse yet, the person building the house.
“We” the eternal essence of who we are (our soul), use the tools (ideas, paradigms, world views) to accomplish a specific fixed task.
The problem is that most people don’t even know what the task is and then confuse their ideas with who they are.
When we hold ideas loosely it’s easy to pick them up or let them go as we see fit.
Are your opinions and judgments serving you? Are they helping you complete the task? Do you know what your task is? Do you know why you’re here?
When you see people that hold onto their belief systems so tightly that they can’t let go, you see people that haven’t changed in decades.
We’ve all met them.
You move away and you don’t see them for twenty years and the only thing that has changed is they’ve aged. There’s nothing new in their life. They aren’t doing anything new, they’re still complaining about the same old things they used to complain about.
They’re not excited about anything and you can see it. They’ve constructed a safe little bubble for themselves to live in that’s devoid of anything of substance.
They’re incapable of going deep. There’s a good quote that says…
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
There’s no life experience they can draw from that might help you in your situation because they’ve insulated themselves from life itself. There’s no new philosophy or spiritual truths they can share with you because they’re so insulated themselves in their own life that they’ve even lost connection with who they are.
It’s really a sad thing because at this point the person is merely existing while living “lives of quiet desperation.”
When was the last time you met somebody at 45 years old that went from being a democrat to a republican (or visa versa)? When was the last time you met somebody who went from being an atheist to a Christian (or visa versa) or from eating meat to being a vegan?
You don’t see many people at 45 years age doing that because the stakes are too high. Usually this is the realm of kids and young adults. They have less to lose even though they have more to fear from what their friends think.
Young people (either by age or mentality) are more easily able to adapt to new ideas. That’s why you see so many young kids into ideas that are not mainstream.
Older people have more to lose. They don’t want their marriage to fall apart or lose their career simply because they no longer hold on to certain belief systems.
There are also people who couldn’t be bothered learning something new or holding a paradigm altogether.
Their laziness and their comfortable life affords them the ability to ignore potential paradigm shifting ideas.
For me, I invite a paradigm shift. I enjoy when I have one. I’m seeking them out. If you were to meet me one year from now, I would be sad if I had the same ideas as the year before. I would be sad if I wasn’t looking to the future (rather than re-living the past as many people do when they get older) for some new adventure (physical, spiritual or mental).
You don’t want to get stuck in a rut. When you’re in a groove your constant thinking reinforces the patterns that make that groove deeper. The deeper that groove gets the higher the walls. The less options you have. Before you dig that groove you had 3 dimensions available for your movement.
You could go up, you could go left or right and back and forth. Now in your rut you can only go backwards and forwards.
The groove is like a cast, locking you in place and preventing strength and growth from happening. Whenever you put a cast on an arm, it gets weak. It gets atrophied. That’s because you’re not allowing it to have resistance and a full range of motion.
The same thing happens with us, if we don’t force ourselves through resistance and exploring new ideas, we get weak. We get atrophied.
Just because somebody is older than us doesn’t mean they are wiser. They could have been stuck in their own self imposed rut for longer than we’ve been alive.
When I’m older I want to have life experience to share. I want to have philosophies to help inspire people. I want to have plans for new adventures in the works. I want to have unique insights to people and situations that came out of the growth of questioning my own beliefs.
Don’t you want that also? Or do you want to be in the old folks home complaining that your food isn’t good talking about the good old days of your youth?
I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound too appealing.
So what do we do? How do we have a paradigm shift?
The first step is to hold your current beliefs lightly and understand they’re just beliefs. You can change them at any time and then change them back. You don’t have to hold onto your beliefs forever. Simply use them for a while and then let them go.
When you’ve realize that you are not your beliefs you can start looking into new belief systems and new frameworks of looking at the world and see if they help you. If they do, then continue exploring and putting them into practice. If they don’t, let them go as well as the people associated with them.
I love playing with new ideas, no matter how controversial they are. To me it’s fun. People will think you’re crazy but what they believe about me is between them and God. It has nothing to do with me.
This liberates me to freely explore new ides and philosophies without feeling afraid of what others might think.
The last major paradigm shift that I had was in March of 2015 (currently it’s May of 2017). It was in March that I stumbled across something called the Flat Earth. If you go over to my documentaries section you’ll see a handful of videos explaining more about it.
I don’t care if people think I’m crazy or what they think of me at all. Since when is exploring ideas with an open mind something that’s crazy?
I never want to have a mind that’s closed off to new ideas and paradigm shifting potential. The day we have the world figured out, is a day where personal growth and exploration ceases.
I don’t know about you but I want nothing that that world has to offer.
“Animals, like humans make in life the mistakes that will ultimately lead to their death, either physically or on a spiritual and emotional level, as with this deer. People and animals that stay on the same paths in life will eventually wear themselves into ruts–a complacency to life born of the false security, comfort and monotony of that path. Soon the ruts become so deep that they can no longer see over the sides. They see neither danger nor beauty, only the path before them, nor do they abandon that path so often traveled, for fear of losing their security and entering the land of the unknown” – Tom Brown from The Vision
When Was The Last Time You Had A Paradigm Shift?
* * *