Mindfulness is a Key to Sustainability

Before enrolling in a class that specifically focused on the wicked problems in our world I was unaware of how many there were and how much they are affecting us in our everyday lives. I feel like many people do not bring enough awareness to them because they automatically think it is not their problem and it will not influence them while they are here on earth, but this is not the case because we as humanity are the change to a more sustainable world. What is a wicked problem though? The characteristics of a wicked problem are that there are variable problem definitions, variable solutions, they have no endpoint, their results can be irreversible, the solutions require unique approaches, and urgent action is needed. Some of the wicked problems our world is facing today include poverty, pollution, climate change, education, homelessness, and sustainability. Simply knowing of a wicked problem is not enough and does not help our environment at all, we need to learn everything we can about it and be more mindful as a whole to how we are living or one day we may no longer have earth to call our home.

Is understanding a wicked problem hard? I personally did find it a little bit difficult to take it all in because they are almost impossible to solve. During my class time I was able to identify the problems and their consequences intellectually, but it was outside of the classroom that I started changing little things I do to be more sustainable because everything counts. Knowing that us humans are constantly being so wasteful, self-center, and materialistic without even seeing the damage we are causing makes me very emotional. People are not mindful that nature only has so much to offer and everyday it becomes more restricted, what will happen to our generation and ones to come when we no longer have the resources we need to get by? I have learned that the best way to be mindful is to be present in the here and now because we get so caught up in our own ways going at such a fast pace, we only think about our own non-wicked problems that in the long run do not matter as much as our environment dying on our behalf.

I mentioned that being mindful is being present, but there is a lot more to it than that. To be mindful of something you are aware and conscious of this thing, if everyone was educated on wicked problems think about the major impact we could have on reversing the unsustainable human footprint we have made on earth. Something I have gotten the privilege to learn and practice in my wicked problems class is meditation and how it contributes to sustainability. The way it helps push us in the correct direction is that meditation intensifies our encounters with the natural world, plus inner and outer body experiences which can influence our responses to these problems and help adjust our behaviors to make more sustainable choices. Meditation can be used for anything from well-being, self-awareness, stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, focus, boost memory, and even headaches. When I first began practicing it I was almost embarrassed because it was new and felt so silly, but as I have grown to enjoy it and take it serious it really does calm me. When I meditate I feel all my worries disappear, I am able to think instead of having to speak, and overall I feel my mind and body getting a well-deserved break.

I have focused mainly on one aspect of sustainability, the resources of the environment we are throwing away. This is not the only factor involved with our world being more sustainable because we are also wasting social, human, and economic assets we will most definitely need in the future if we keep living as selfish as we currently are. If you are unsure the meaning of sustainability is the ability to maintain a certain level or rate. The way we live now works and is comfortable, but if we want our grandchildren and their kids to live happily and stable the shift has got to begin now. My personal response to every wicked problem we are facing and that we might face in the future is even though we cannot solve them or immediately test a solution for one they are important, should be made known, and should not be taken lightly. Nature and the environment simply cannot ask humanity for help or to reverse the damages we have caused so it is up to us and only us to make a change before it is all irreversible.

In conclusion we are aware of the silent but almost deadly conflicts our planet is facing and will attempt to do all we can to get their everlasting affects recognized by all. Actions that we as individuals can take to help make the shift to a better planet is to go plastic free, recycle, consume less, purchase items that have large environmental benefits, drive less, understand labels, have a garden, and further educate yourself on sustainable living because things that are normal in your life right now will not be once you are mindful of just how bad it is for us and our home. Think about the items you currently have more than one of in your house, is this very sustainable? No it is not, humanity needs to be less materialistic, half the amount we consume, wrap our heads around the fact that resources are not unlimited, and understand the world does not revolve around us. If DHM 1001 was not a requirement for my degree I do not think my attention would have ever been so focused on what I can do to better the environment and I do not think I would have ever learned just how many wicked problems there are. I believe every student should experience this class because the amount it opens your eyes and pulls on your heart is enough to want the change.

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