Mindfulness in Wicked Problems

Honestly, I had no clue what a wicked problem was a month ago when I first heard about it or the second time really. I find it interesting because everyone is aware of the unsolvable problems of the world, but they do not understand the “behind the scenes” of it, they do not understand why they are unsolvable, most people do not even know that those problems are called wicked problems. When I was learning about wicked problems, I used pollution from plastic industries as my example to compare the information I was learning, I watched one documentary about it and was fascinated. Now not to say recycling is a scam, but it is kind of a scam. Telling consumers to recycle is a way to make them feel as if it is their responsibility to keep the Earth clean, while I do believe we should all recycle and reduce the use of plastic, it is not that simple. Plastic Industries pollute the environment so heavily that recycling cannot solve the problem, in fact only 10% of plastics put in recycling bins actually get recycled. It is a wicked problem and for me it is the example I needed to wrap my mind around the depths of wicked problems.  

Mindful practice has affected me more than I thought it would, I was very eager to learn how to meditate and the purpose of doing it, but I was still pessimistic. After understanding I have to get out of my thoughts in order to observe them, I started to do it outside of meditation too, now if I get too overwhelmed, I will straighten my posture, focus on breathing and allow myself to let the random thoughts flow out and focus on one thought at a time. After meditation I usually feel calm, like I emptied out everything that made me feel overwhelmed and I am able to just feel content and focus on progressing in the moment. Transforming from not partaking in any mindful practices to opening yourself up to them can feel overwhelming itself, sometimes I feel pressured by having my thoughts sorted out, it is like now I finally have to act on them, move to the next step. For me it puts me in a position to move forward and grow as a person because I am finally able focus on what needs to be done rather than the cluttered thoughts that were occupying my mind. I believe mindful practices can have a significant impact on how to approach wicked problems, or any problem for that matter. In my opinion mindful practices can allow for critical thinking skills to improve, for example when you step out of your thoughts and view them as they are, you are able to observe them instead of feeling opinionated about them. It helps you come up with different solutions for specific problems after you have observed the details of them. Developing an understanding of wicked problems requires a lot of paying attention to the details, you have to be able to target all the potential problems, correlate them to moments that could have caused the problem and then come up with alternative options in order to receive a different outcome. 

To understand wicked problems on an in depth level it helps to directly see or experience their effects. I believe being able to witness the changes that take place puts the effects of wicked problems into a distinct perspective, I think it could also create a sense of compassion, concern, and urgency to work together in order to take care of our environment. I think of the civilization on Easter Island as a perfect example of seeing the change take place directly, although I do believe the citizens should have responded to their circumstances in a different way. Maybe that is because now we are more educated on the issues they were facing, I am not entirely sure, what I do know is Easter Island was 15 miles wide and the citizens of the island did not try to adapt to their environment in a way that would have allowed them to improve and thrive as a civilization. They used all their natural resources up, they cut down so many trees that you could see across the island, they cut down so many trees that the soil became useless. No crops could grow and the ones that had already grown did not last long. The people of this island did not attempt to save their home. Instead, they used every last tree until there was no more, they ate all their crops, they did not have a reliable water source, they were doomed. With that being said, in today’s generation we are able to look back and criticize the mistakes the last man made, in fact we must do that in order to change the values of society, we have to give them a reason to care for our future sake. 

Of course, I am not even close to being finished on my mindfulness journey, I have just started and already I have been able to notice changes in my mentality and how I perceive things. While it is impossible to get every single person on this planet to have the same values and get them to agree on the same solution, that will never happen no matter what scenario someone gives you, but I do believe you can get people to care. No not about every single wicked problem, or creating a completely sustainable solution, or even about changing their home for the better. Everyone cares about different things but sometimes it is hard to know you are supposed to care when you are oblivious to the actual problem. This is why I believe it is important for everyone, and yes, I really do mean everyone (although I know that it is impossible to request) to practice mindfulness in some form, we are so clouded by the busyness of everyday life that it becomes harder to see the big picture, the things that really matter. That is why I believe practicing mindfulness is important. It can break apart reality from the extra information your brain processes constantly, it can help you to change your values and habits, it can guide you to the next step you are needing to take. Whether you are going to study all the words wicked problems or you are just looking for inner peace, I believe having mindful practice allows for growth.

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