The Dreaded Lens of Paradigms

Last week in good old Wicked Problems, our discussions had an overarching theme of paradigms.  Paradigms can be defined as a collective mental mode made up of our values, beliefs, assumptions, etc.  In other words, paradigms can be visually thought of as the lens through which we view the world.  In general, each and every one of us has our own set of lens that we view our surrounding world with, but societies, cultures, or just the general world itself has its own lens through which acceptability is seen, of which often goes undetected.  The relevance of paradigms may seem of no importance, yet it means so much more than can be expressed.  How we as individuals and even more so as a society or collective view that around us and formulate opinions determines to outcome of so many situations.  What one thinks of global warming is a paradigm, just as much as one’s determination and pursuit of a solution to solving such, if not acknowledging its presence.  However, this area often becomes so sticky for people have such varying views of what is important or acceptable.  It is for this particular reason that issues of wicked problems in sustainability is at play, for with such much diversity who is to say what is the correct answer?

Going back to class on Tuesday, we looked at an excerpt from Ecological Economics discussing mindfulness.  It sounds childish at first, believe me, I was in the same boat.  The world is at such a constant state of go-go-go that we, as a society, often forget to stop and contemplate the very nature of what is in front of us.  So many times I fall victim to feeling as if a bus of nonstop chores has hit me dead on, suffocated by my to-do lists.  The sad part is, this constant suffocation has brought me to a state of denial of happiness.  It’s so funny, for just last weekend I had gone home and was talking to my mom about how horrible my life is, how overwhelmed I am at the thought of having to start the chaos of the next day each night before I go to bed.  I was beginning to feel as if I couldn’t stop anything, how I would just take the hits until I was beat so far into the ground I may not come back to my happy self.  Ha, boy was I in my own little world.  We read an article of mindfulness and its advantages.

Mindfulness is defined in the excerpt by Ericson, Kjønstad, and Barstad as “being aware, taking note of what is going on within ourselves and outside in the world, without shying away from information or feelings that we do not like o do not wish to be true.”  After walking the reader through a better understanding of the core and facts of practices of mindfulness meditation, four points of subjective well-being are discussed.  This is by far the most fascinating part of the article.  Like seriously, I was at the edge of my seat entering into cloud 9 at this point in reading the article.  God is quite a trickster in the way that he gives us exactly what we need at the exact right moment.  The four points can be broken down into mindfulness meditation can lead to less unhappiness by allowing one to present in the moment, an increase in the categories of compassion and empathy, understanding one’s values and acting in kahoots of such, and finally it reduces the dreaded trend of the “hedonic treadmill,” or the phenomenon of the constant cycle of new stuff then unhappiness and feeling like more stuff is needed.  It’s all so fascinating.

We continued on the topic of mindfulness, just digging deeper into its core.  The overwhelming jumbles of life are such a daily occurrence now day, even my mom thinks she’s too busy to take a power nap.  TOO BUSY FOR A POWER NAP!  When on the topic, all I could think of was the SpongeBob SquarePants episode where SpongeBob is trying to learn how to be a fancy-dancy waiter, storing information in the filing cabinets of the “storing room” of his brain.  When the stress gets too high and he can’t seem to find the information he is looking for, the storing room of his brain catches fire and all the little SpongeBobs are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  (I know, I question where my brain goes too.)  Anyways, mindfulness allows us to pay attention on purpose.  Rather than analyzing every thought, we let them go by like traffic at a red light, saying “oh that’s a thought.”  I swear this works wonders, I have probably bragged on this phrase to every one of my friends.  So while I want to solve all the problems of the world, until I can work through the haunting thoughts of my brain and learn to take one thing at a time, I need to start small and simple.

Moving onto the next class, the problems of the dominant social paradigm were discussed.  I won’t lie when I am more confused on this topic.  Basically, I was on the No side of the argument in that the world is using resources in an excess.  Developing countries set American as the golden standard and what their country should be reaching for, yet this concept is flocked with wrong.  The argument by Erik Assadourian brings a point to how if we all lived like Americans, the earth could only support 1.4 billion people.  And how many people are on the earth? 7.4 billion people!! So how on earth, ha get it, could the world support such an unhealthy and wasteful lifestyle as the west?  There seems to be a paradigm that people have the right to own land.  I just can’t seem to understand why what has been going for more than four billion years can be owned by someone who has just come along?  Do you just have the right to be entitled to a plot of land because you have the finances to buy it?  The alarming and horrid morals are scary, and I don’t see how it could ever work to disrupt all ecological systems, and have the 6% of the population that is wealthy be consuming 78%.  Just a lot to consider with the development of so many countries in this day and age.

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