I have recently learned that wicked problems are problems that cannot easily be contained or reversed and has numerous different possible solutions. Being mindful about my learning has shown me that I am capable of successfully completing what needs to be done. Being mindful about my education means being aware and making conscious decisions to prepare for whatever is coming that semester. Being mindful about how the information I learn applies to my life and actions means making important connections. During our first class meeting I was shocked to learn that we are not striving to solve these wicked problems, but instead, better understand these problems and their causes and effects. This was a hard concept for me to understand and definitely took a while to fully accept; I had a hard time avoiding trying to come up with solutions and instead evaluating the many factors that go into these problems. Once I was able to comprehend that because of the many attributes that go into every individual problem, there will be infinite different ways to go about “solving” this issue. Knowing that there is not one single solution and that some solutions might cause other issues helped me understand how and why wicked problems cannot be easily solved. This also allowed me to see how the problem, and sometimes solution, affects different groups involved. I can now confidently say that I have compassion for all involved and affected by a certain problem; As we have learned to see wicked problems from all perspectives. Learning to deeply investigate and evaluate all of the different perspectives involved in a wicked problem has allowed me to create humble responses, that have ultimately transformed my original bias understanding to compassionate curiosity. This shift from being judgemental of those involved in a wicked problem, to being understanding of their choices and situations, has not happened quickly and I still sometimes struggle to see all sides of a problem. I have made great progress in my initial and final responses to wicked problems, but it has not been a linear progression. Maybe at first, it was a gradual incline towards mindful responses, but now that I understand what wicked problems are and how and why they are considered wicked, my progress has become jumpy. Meaning that there are good days and bad, sometimes with a certain wicked problem, I can easily digest the many contributing factors and people and make an understanding response. But with some of the wicked problems we discuss, all I want to do is try and solve them and judge groups or individuals that add to or cause the problem at hand. A specific problem that helped me to understand the concept of wickedness is that of waste production. This problem has so so so many possible solutions, and even some that in result worsened the problem, that the concept of it being unsolvable finally clicked. The wicked problem of fast fashion is one where I struggle to show any progress towards mindful and humble responses because it seems like such an easy fix with specific people at fault. I still to this day struggle to avoid placing blame on specific parties involved in this issue, and it truly triggers feelings of anger. However, using what I’ve learned in this class, I am able to evaluate all perspectives and make an overall respectable and understanding response to its wickedness.
With this newly learned compassionate curiosity towards wicked problems, I have found myself being more in touch with my emotions. Emotions, both towards the specific problem at hand, and emotions that have nothing to do with this course or its contents. I think a lot of this is due to practicing mindfulness in my everyday life, as well as meditation. Meditation, that is overwhelmed with my brain’s ability to think at rapid-fire speed. I couldn’t empty my mind, my mind is full. This truly challenged me when it came to my approach to learning, as I try to think analytically, especially when it comes to wicked problems, or I did. Now I am forced to listen to my emotions and feelings towards the matter at hand, which in turn has helped me to turn my curiosity about these issues into a compassionate and understanding curiosity. However, I have found myself feeling a little overwhelmed by the strength and consistency of my emotions since I started implementing mindfulness into my daily schedule. I am not an overly emotional person and have a hard time allowing myself to really feel things, so this has been a shock. I am still not truly sure how I feel about this urging ability to feel all of these emotions, and I am definitely still trying to figure out how to use this to my advantage. I have found that labeling the emotions at hand helps me to acknowledge and accept what I am feeling, which can help me to get past them. My progress towards making emotional responses and understandings of these wicked problems has come a lot slower and was a much choppier ride. I still do not feel fully confident in my ability to do so, I have definitely made some steps in the right direction but I still have a ways to go. I do find myself feeling embarrassed about my slow emotional progression. I imagined it would not be this hard for me, but I am still striving to reach this goal.
Overall, between the information learned in this course and the implementation of mindful practices in my everyday life: I have seen a great transition in my abilities to evaluate and comprehend different aspects of problems. I have noticed a difference in my behavior towards others’ emotions and feelings, And have even started to better acknowledge and understand my own emotions. This class has changed how I think about environmental problems or more so solutions. I always viewed these wicked problems as ones that could be solved if we as a planet could come together and implement constant laws and regulations to better protect our earth. Though I have always understood that there isn’t one single perfect solution I always viewed environmental problems as solvable: which in this course we start to learn how to evaluate the wickedness of the problem rather than trying to solve it.