A simple way to understand paradigms is to see them as maps. We all know that “the map is not the territory.” A map is simply an explanation of certain aspect of the territory. That’s exactly what a paradigm is. It is a theory, an explanation, or model of something else. … In the more general sense, it’s the way we “see” the world — not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, interpreting.
(Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 23)
Yeah, I know the word paradigm has become a cheeseball cliché and that Covey’s 7 habits did a lot to help over saturate our culture with the term – but as with a lot of cheesy Covey-isms, I think the concept he is describing is very important. In Covey-speak our paradigm is the lens through which we see and understand reality or the map we use as we navigate life. The excellent point Covey makes is that if our map is inaccurate we will inevitably get lost no matter how much effort we put in or how good our attitude is along the way. One cannot properly navigate Phoenix by consulting a map of San Antonio. Likewise, one cannot properly navigate this life by consulting an inaccurate map of reality.
Of course since 7 Habits is a secular book Covey couldn’t launch into a gospel preaching chapter to help readers properly map reality (even though that is largely what the gospel is supposed to do for us I think). Instead he focuses on “principles” which are quite similar to the notion of Universals. That is, he focuses on what he considers to be immutable laws of the Universe. He preaches that we should seek to find and understand these eternal principles and conform our maps of reality to them. The other thing he talks about is the “aha” moments known as paradigm shifts that we all experience in life. These are moments when we suddenly change lenses and see reality in a new light. Or, using the map analogy, these are moments when we realize that we were incorrectly reading the legend on our map of reality and the territory suddenly looks quite different. Paradigm shifts can be very healthy if we shift from a less correct map to a more accurate one. But such paradigm shifts can also be jarring at times.
Now there are lots of reasons to blog, but I think one of the reasons I blog is to improve my map of reality. I have been hanging around the bloggernacle for nearly 18 months now and I’ve had a lot of “aha” moments in that time that have helped me amend my paradigm or map of the universe. Most of these paradigm shifts have been more pleasant than jarring for me.
So now is your chance to sound off. Tell us about the paradigm shifts you have experienced since you started blogging with Mormons. How has your map of the universe and reality been added to or changed? Do you believe that your map of reality more accurate since you have been hanging around the bloggernacle?
[Associated radio.blog songs: Morphine - All Your Way; Jack Johnson - Upside Down. The Morphine song has a great paradigm shift line "I finally see things all your way". I love this Jack Johnson song from the Curious George soundtrack... and paradigm shifts can make one feel upside down at first, right?]