Recent statistics tell us that 20% of people suffer with some form of anxiety. Over 40 million North Americans suffer with some form of addiction. Our generation is one of the most stressed out, fearful and frantic in all of history. The good news is that many have found freedom from debilitating fear and anxiety, hopelessness, even compulsive/addictive behavior when they gained an understanding of how our thoughts affect our feelings and behavior. In other words, when we change the way we think about certain things it will change the way we feel and the way we act.
Authentic change then requires a paradigm shift. Stephen Covey, the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” used the term “paradigm shift” to describe a radical change in perspective. He offers an example from his own personal experience: One day while he was riding the subway a father and his three children got on at one of the stops. Mr. Covey grew increasingly frustrated as the children grew increasingly loud and disruptive while their father seemed to be oblivious to their behavior. Finally Mr. Covey lost his patience and asked the father if he would do something about the situation. The father looked up with a blank stare and said “I’m sorry we just came from the hospital where their mother died, they don’t know how to handle this and neither do I.” In an instant Mr. Covey’s perspective shifted from frustration to compassion and he just wanted to know if there was something he could do to help. He notes how the sudden change in his perspective dramatically changed the way he felt and the way he acted towards the father and his children.
The paradigm shift is not a new concept. The psalmist from the old testament tells us that “as a man thinks in his heart, then so shall it be” and again St. Paul in the new testament tells us that we can “be transformed by the renewal of our mind.” Most people of average intelligence have the capacity to shift their perspective at will but they don’t know how to develop and use this skill.
Imagination is the other key to this process. Albert Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” This means that anything and everything we have is first conceived in our mind and then we birth it into reality. For example, over 100 years ago Orville and Wilbur Wright simply had a dream that we could fly. People told them they were crazy but they persevered and eventually their dream became a reality; now we have airplanes. So how does this apply to behavior and attitude? I’m so glad you asked. If in our mind’s eye we can begin to see a better life for our self, despite our current circumstances and if we can believe that we deserve a better life, despite how we feel, the chances of changing our life increase dramatically. This is not as mystical as it may sound. Have you ever had a daydream – you’re at your desk at work but your mind is on the beach in Mexico. That is the power of imagination. We all have it but we rarely use it to our benefit
So, if you are feeling hopeless and helpless as your life spins out of control take courage. There are those who have risen from the ashes of despair to a whole new level of freedom and happiness. They were able to re-write the script of their life; shift to a paradigm of success. With a little imagination they turned a life of fear and drudgery into a voyage of discovery. Their dreams literally took flight. They dared to believe and found that the heart of life is indeed good. They dared to believe and some even found that the author of life has already written their story…………with a happy ending.