The Problem with My Paradigm

Have you ever thought about the power of your thoughts? This may sound confusing, but this week has shown me how important it is to acknowledge the connection to our thoughts and the consequences thereof. Everything we feel, say, and do stems from our thoughts about a given situation. Though we often let our thoughts and emotions control our actions, our first class this week showed me a realistic way to have control over my thoughts.

I always admired others who could successfully meditate because they appeared to be more at ease and relaxed in their everyday lives, but I felt my mind was just too hectic to be able to ever do it. However, our mindful practice this week helped me learn to control my mind to focus on only the present moment. After our meditations this week, I felt much calmer about everything going on in my personal life and was therefore able to focus more clearly on our discussions. Though I still struggle to keep my mind from wondering to things not in the present moment, I have continued to practice mindful thinking every day and have noticed that my thoughts are easier to control, and my outlook on life has been much more positive.

Even though I now believe that everyone should incorporate mindful thinking into their daily routine, I don’t think mindful practice alone is enough to solve our current sustainability issues. I do feel that by increasing the amount of mindful thinking in the world, people would be more aware of the current wicked problems and more likely to keep an open mind about possible solutions, but I think to truly make a difference society as a whole would have to shift its overall paradigm.

On Wednesday, the “Taking Sides” debate reinforced my opinion from last week that humans and our priorities are the driving force behind the collapse of our environment. The “No” article explained that consumerism is the primary aspect of the social paradigm of the Western world, and to make any significant changes concerning our sustainability would require a drastic shift in our culture. This may seem unrealistic at first, but the article also provided a few solutions that I feel are very possible to implement through gradual changes.

Of the suggested solutions, I think the concept of making private consumption public is the most intriguing and plausible. This concept seems complicated but is really quite simple: we learn to share. The article used neighborhood tools and a community library as examples. I didn’t grow up in a neighborhood that was close enough to share tools, but I wish I had because I believe that would’ve been economically and environmentally friendly while also uniting us as a community. However, I did drive 20 minutes to go to a public library several times a month. I love to read so the library example made perfect sense to me. I loved going to the library, but I also have a pretty large collection of books at home. After considering the article’s suggestion, I realized I would have gladly made more trips to the library to rent the majority of the books that I own that I read once and then forgot about. I couldn’t help but imagine all of the trees I could’ve saved if I had easier access to a public library. I believe other people would likely be happy to rent books instead of purchase them if they only had the opportunity.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure our society is ready to make private consumption public in all areas of our lives, especially apparel. I’d really like to say that I absolutely would, but I wouldn’t want to trade my outdated clothes just to receive someone else’s. I’m honestly not proud of that, but it’s the truth, and I imagine others feel the same way too. But I do believe that the fashion industry can become more sustainable in terms of its trends. By making unfashionable items fashionable again, the trends are already on the right track. Lately I’ve been stealing clothes out of my mom’s closet that I was embarrassed for her to wear just a few years ago. Thankfully, her unwillingness to get rid of them and the ever-changing fashion industry saved those clothes from ending up in a landfill. I believe if we used the media to either make clothing trends socially acceptable for longer periods of time or brought outdated fashions back into style at a quicker rate, then we could avoid discarding an unnecessarily large amount of clothing. I know any form of change has to start with myself so I have decided to start utilizing mindful practices to avoid making frivolous purchases as “retail therapy,” and I will start trying to make my clothes fashionable for longer by restyling them as many ways as possible and resist discarding them unless they are broken or damaged beyond repair. It’s not much, but like our society, I have to start somewhere, and I think this is a great place to start.

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