Mindful Problem Solving

Navigating life with self-awareness is an act of empowerment. When we operate without self-awareness we lack ambition, curiosity, and empathy. All of which are important elements when problem solving. Practicing self-awareness is one of the first steps to open one’s mind to opportunities for compassionate curiosity. Becoming self-aware helps you better align your thoughts and find the root of the problem. In order to better align your thoughts, it is recommended to practice mindful meditation. Mindful meditation can be done in a multitude of ways. In order to fit mindful Meditation into my schedule I started small and would practice anywhere from five to forty-five minutes each day. My practice evolved from belly breathing to move structured mediations using tools like Headspace. It was a challenge at first, but it was important that I set realistic goals that I could follow through on. My practice of mindfulness allowed me to become more aware of my emotional responses. This awareness began to change the way I looked at solving problems in the world. Rather than attaching to the first emotion I feel, mindfulness gives me the opportunity to explore all emotions that are associated with a problem and use them as tools to seek perspectives both within and outside of myself. Through mindful meditation I learned to use my emotions as a tool rather than to be something avoided. I realized as I practiced mindful meditation that I find myself contemplating and evaluating the connection my emotions have when facing a wicked problem. From a young age, it is learned that acting with emotions is considered irrational or illogical, but I have learned that it is nearly impossible to respond to anything without an emotional perspective. Our emotions are a key piece in our cognitive function and to silence them results in missed opportunities for exploration. It is in this exploration I have allowed myself to find a passion about wicked problems. It is not possible to show compassionate curiosity towards others, if one does not apply the same reflection and mindfulness towards their inner self. Through better understanding myself I have been able to better listen to and understand others, and in turn advance my compassionate curiosity. 

Mindful meditation has helped put me attune with emotions that once felt out of my control. The journey to gain the smallest sense of control has not been easy. Control over one’s emotions is monitoring my own emotional responses has allowed me to give others the same patience I have shown myself when they are unable to control their emotions. In fact, I no longer believe full emotional control is needed when problem solving. I am now finding myself to be appreciative when others bring their emotions to the table because it means that they care. Even if the ways in which an individual values a problem are different than my own, I have learned through the dialogues I have held in this course that it is often such differences that allow us to find the most creative solutions. When everyone arrives with a mindset of compassionate curiosity it opens up the ability to listen and think beyond the impacts of an individual. Compassionate curiosity has allowed me to learn more about myself and what drives my perspectives through my peers. Compassionate curiosity is not something that can be done independently; it requires us to connect with others. It is not always the problem itself that is inherently wicked, but rather the distance these problems drive between individuals. When wicked problems are not viewed through compassionate curiosity barriers are put in place that inhibit the ability to collectively problem solve. Wicked problems has made me become more humble and compassionate about sustainability. I have become aware of the need to purchase and support local merchants who recycle and produce goods using less energy. Previously I only took the perspective of a consumer, which I most closely identified with. However, when sustainability is viewed through a global mindset and the communities that are impacted are considered I found my perspective changing and it was no longer so easy to sever myself from the consequences of my actions. Compassionate curiosity allowed me to alter my own behaviors to align more with the changes in which I hope to see in the world. 

Sharing my new perspectives and awareness was not always easy. I found those I surround myself with had a range of responses to the wicked problems. For some, bringing up the impact of consumption was a conversation that they were not willing to engage in. I did have a small ground within my own inner circle who were highly responsive to my own changes and wanted to mirror similar ones. My sister in particular was interested in understanding what I learned about wicked problems and how to evolve one’s perspective. I have been pleased to take these learnings from compassionate curiosity in my ability to discuss different viewpoints with others. In a world that has become so polarized, compassionate curiosity is a skillset that is more valued than ever. Since I’ve been in this class, I have noticed changes in how I think about my environmental footprint. I find myself being more mindful of how I consume. After being in this course I often feel guilty if I don’t eat all the food left in my fridge once it’s time to restock. When shopping I become aware of what I need versus what I want. Being more mindful has helped me become more aware of my wants and my needs. When we think something, and it isn’t affecting us mentally or physically we throw it on to someone else. 

I really enjoyed this course because it shows that you do not have to watch the news to identify a wicked problem. Utilizing my own emotions to identify one has helped me become more aware and confident when confronting a wicked problem. I realize the importance of becoming aware and knowledgeable about wicked problems. Many people ignore the wicked problems that are going on in the world today, which does nothing to solve the problem. We need something to be done and making people aware of the many problems that the world is facing will hopefully open people’s eyes and make them want to change stale practices that are ruining our earth and environment.  I became more aware about how a problem could affect me. I contemplate all the what ifs and spin back to the problem. I notice that my thoughts or worries start to align. Aligning my thoughts helps me figure out the problem, allowing myself to very rarely allow the problem to recur. 

Compassionate curiosity is not accessible without holding one’s emotions accountable. When exploring wicked problems emotions should be embraced and used as a tool to generate collaborative solutions rather than being isolated and shut off to differing perspectives. This class has helped me realize that in order to find logical and explorative solutions one must first evaluate their emotional standpoint. I appreciate the perspectives I have gained and can now be a better listener to the environment, myself and others. I look forward to the continuous application of these practices in order to be a positive advocate for our global environment and if not that, at the very least a better person. 

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