“You cannot surpass the current paradigm from within the current paradigm. You must discover a greater paradigm and expand into it.” – Alan Cohen

This is a most intriguing quote. I’m not certain I’ve completely grasped it. I do know I spend a lot of time kicking and poking and punching and trying to tweak my current paradigm. Hoping to make it fit.

I believe what Alan is telling us is that, rather than trying to make our current paradigm fit, we have to create a greater paradigm, imagine it, tell a new story. Take steps in that direction and then lovingly move in. I like that he calls it a “greater” paradigm, rather than a “better” one. One with a greater impact on the lives and hearts around us.

I find that I’m leaking appreciation. I don’t seem to be able to hold onto it. Perhaps there’s a hole in the bucket where I’ve been collecting it. I could patch up the hole. But maybe it makes more sense to get a new one. Otherwise, I’m left with that weakness under the patch. This time I can get a bigger bucket to fit loads more appreciation! Maybe I want my car to have more power. I can retrofit it with some new gadgets, but it’ll never be faster than a Bugatti Veyron.

Trying to surpass the current paradigm from within is like saying, my life will be perfect when I have X. If I can just make X dollars. If I just had that Veyron, my life would be greater. It’s like scurrying around fixing holes in the old paradigm, trying to push it out in spots, putting curtains over the rotten walls, trying to make it stretch to fit a new vision.

Instead, it makes sense to construct a new vision, a new paradigm, tell a new story. Then easily and gracefully move into it.

Merriam Webster tells me that the word paradigm comes from Latin and Greek descent. They say it means, “to show side by side.” But the para means from and the rest of it means show. I like the notion that your life shows what you believe. The Websters go on to define it as an “outstandingly clear or typical example, pattern, archetype.” Another definition says “an example of conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms.” That’s a mouthful. But I would like to interpret it that your paradigm shows all the reflections of your beliefs. The third definition says, “a philosophical and theoretical framework of any kind. A scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated.” Who writes these things? I’d say that sounds a whole lot like life. You have your theories, rules and generalizations and you experiment with them every day to prove them. It shows, side by side, what you believe and how your life is.

A paradigm is the structure of our life, how we see it, how we live it. Powerful things these paradigms. They influence everything we do.

I like to think of it as the stories we tell ourselves about why we do the things we do. In “The Four Agreements,” Miguel Ruiz talks of the “Book of Law.” This is a book you write of your paradigms, what you decided about life. This is how you should act. These are the things you should be doing, these are the people you should be with.

The best way to deal with a story that’s not working is to scrap it and start fresh. The wiser for it. Using what you learned the first time around, you can create new characters or create a new scene for the same characters to come into.

“All the world’s a stage,” so you might as well act in the play you choose. Reach for a new stage, with a wider audience. And then expand yourself into it!