Through taking my Wicked Problems in the Fashion Industry Course, I have learned to change the way that I see and understand wicked problems. The various readings and discussions that I’ve gone through in that class have increased my mindfulness of wicked problems in the world and how to approach them intellectually, emotionally, and somatically.
I have discovered through an intellectual view that wicked problems are complex issues that involve either one or multiple industries that have bad practices that are destructive to the environment or people in it. Through reading assignments and class discussions, I have found that wicked problems are defined as ‘wicked’ because they are so large and elaborate that no one person, or even one company or country, can solve them. I’ve learned that even in hypothetical situations, that even if everyone or even just a majority of people agreed to a solution to waste or pollution, that it couldn’t be applied to all businesses, manufacturers, or even governments, because not all of them have the same rules and practices. Also, even if they were able to work for everyone, time and the changes of the environment or even societal beliefs around the world would prohibit how far the solution would go in fixing certain problems. While all of this hard-hitting knowledge is a tough pill to swallow, the practice of mindfulness in this class and outside of it helps. While meditating doesn’t necessarily work for me, prayer and the reading of my Bible and the focusing of my thoughts toward positivity do help me. Living in the present moment is hard to do while in college and having lots of things race through my mind of what I have to get done, however, keeping my mental wellbeing up through short prayers or though concentrating on scripture helps me to get in a positive mood and not just focus on my own problems. It makes me able to be mindful of myself and my surroundings, setting good practices in bettering my environment and giving me hope that others can do the same. It helps me to know that others might not “care” about the world’s problems because the problems going on in their lives might be just barely enough for them to handle.
From an emotional point of view, I’ve learned how to empathetically view the problems of pollution, sweatshops, waste, etc. to see that these problems are hurting people and destroying the earth, making life for our descendants harder and virtually impossible to live. I can connect intellectual mindfulness to emotional mindfulness in the aspect that focusing on my mental health betters my mood and makes me more susceptible to be compassionate for others and the world’s problems. Keeping the mental thought of “I don’t have time” stresses me out and makes me less likely to think about my surroundings, therefore making me only aware of what’s going on in my head, in my classes, in my experiences, not other’s or what my environment or community needs. Keeping mindfulness helps me develop compassion for others and helps me to better my own mood when I am focused on others and not just myself. Creating that empathy and kindness to others and my environment makes me want to show myself the same kindness for doing so, therefore creating a positive cycle. When I reassure myself that I can do something, or that everything is going to be fine, or that I did well it helps me to spread the same encouragement to others. This sparks humility when I put other’s and the environment’s well-being as a high priority I view my problems as fleeting and develop the knowledge that I’m going to conquer it just like the ones that I have before, and that the ones that need focus on are other people’s struggles and the environment’s struggles that perhaps might not get attention. Telling myself that it’s okay if I ended up procrastinating, that the important thing is not to crack down on myself for it but to lift myself up in order to get done what I need to do. When I don’t plan out my time right and don’t get to do something that I might have wanted to do, I still tell myself that I did get some things done and that’s good. Encouraging myself helps me to see that things aren’t that bad, but that they can be better because I can do something about it. Knowing that there are others that aren’t even born yet that are going to need the same resources that my generation is using like there’s no tomorrow definitely puts things into perspective, that I might think that I need something, but I really don’t, that it might be some internal wound or struggle that needs healing rather than a physical need that has to be satisfied. Wicked problems might be unsolvable, but I have realized that I can put a dent in them by taking care of myself mentally so that I can have a positive attitude to take care of my environment and everyone in it, starting a cycle for myself and others in it.
Somatically, I’ve found that taking time to exercise and to eat healthily has helped me to consciously think about how my actions affect the environment and how I can change and start good practices that help the environment through recycling. I’ve also found that through practicing physical wellbeing that I get more energy and positive thinking that I have taken care of myself and that I can get my homework, cleaning, or laundry done with that extra energy. Versus starting out with a negative attitude and low energy from staying up from the previous night doing homework and focusing on creating another cycle of unhealthy sleep habits that give me bad attitudes and stressful mindsets. I have found in this class that my mental, physical, and emotional well-being all play a part in my function and success and that the same goes for the economy. Broken systems work with bad practices that were started early on and are hard to fix because that is what most people, companies, and countries are used to. Everyone is so wound up in their own day to day problems that they forget that their overconsumption of goods and natural resources, over-working and underpaying of good people, and inconsiderate dumping of resources are all connected to why the environment and why poor communities are involved in the process of production, consumption, and waste are all subject to exponential amounts of destruction. Paying attention to how I take care of myself physically all has to do with my thought process and my feelings. If I feel stressed and if I don’t think that I have time to take care of myself by eating right, exercising, sleeping right, etc., I don’t and I end up in another vicious cycle of bad habits and negative thoughts and emotions. I go further and further deeper into bad practices that I can’t see a way out of. Through this class, I have found that setting good practices for my thoughts and feelings results in goods actions that make me successful. Procrastinating on an assignment can make me snippy because of the stress and hurt some of my friends’ feelings, hurts my family because of the lack of time that I have for them later because I am having to rush to finish, and hurts me because of toxic thoughts and feeling toward myself for starting that whole process.
Practicing mindfulness of how my actions now are going to affect me later has helped me in understanding how to better myself and why it is so hard for the world to do the same. Reflecting on the fact that my problems aren’t what I should be focused on at the end of the day. Yes, I should take care of myself because my thoughts and feelings are important, but too much focus on that doesn’t help anyone or anything else unless I do it for others. Unless I care enough to better myself so that others can feel better so that they and I can tackle the problems seen around us, so that eventually a lot more people care about themselves and their neighbor and the land that we live in. To create a better place to live in for our future.