The Social Construction Series Part 5: The Social Construction of Time

7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

How often do you run from here to there, and back, checking the clock on the wall, in the kitchen, on your wrist, or on your phone? Yep, normal, we all do it, or, rather, have done it.

Time is such an important part of our life. We construct our whole lives, in fact, around it. Yep. Time. When we get up, when we eat, when we work, how we work, when we sleep. All of it.

Yet, time also provides people with tons of stress and anxiety. Really. How often have you said, or heard, or both, there’s just not enough time in the day? Yep. We’ve all said it, say it, and have heard many, or, rather, most people say it.

Phew. It’s tiring. Really.

I remember a time in my life where I was more concerned about what time it was, then about what I was doing with my time. Maybe you can relate?

Either way, time is not what we think it is.

Time is actually socially constructed. Meaning, it doesn’t even really exist, except for that we create it, agree upon it, and as has been aforementioned, organize our lives around it.

A social construction, you ask? Sure. Here you go.

social construct

Pronunciation /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/

NOUN

A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

Lexico

There we go.

Now, time, you ask? Well, I think we can all agree upon the definition of time, yet, let’s go ahead and define it anyway. Here you go.

time

Pronunciation /tīm/ /taɪm/ 

Translate time into Spanish

NOUN

The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.‘travel through space and time’

1.1 The progress of time as affecting people and things.‘things were getting better as time passed’

1.2 Time or an amount of time as reckoned by a conventional standard.‘it’s eight o’clock Eastern Standard Time’

1.3 The personification of time, typically as an old man with a scythe and hourglass.‘Power began to flow out from Father Time’s scythe.’

Lexico

That’s fun.

Alright, so here’s what we have so far.

A social construction is something that is constructed and agreed upon by a group of people, of which time, as in the continued progress of existence and events as in the past, present, and future, is one. Phew.

You may now ask, well, there is a past, present, and future, therefore time exists. Yet, I would invite you to really think about that. Does the past really exist, or the future for that matter?

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Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Think about what you are doing right now. Does the past exist in the present moment? Does the future? Nope. They don’t.

The only thing that ever really exists is the present moment. Right now; and, then right now, and now. That’s it.

Therefore time is in many ways irrelevant, an illusion actually. Yet, we continue to create our whole lives around it. Pretty powerful.

You may now be saying. Okay. Fine. Yet, why is understanding time as a social construction important? Very well.

Let’s take a look at

7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

1. Increased Flexibility

When we hold time as a social construct, we are more flexible because we understand that there is an infinite amount of time to do all that we’d like to do. Really.

We become more flexible as we continue to consider time as something that we can choose to release ourselves from. We know at a different level that, yes, we need to move our work and lives forward, however, we also know that there is plenty of time to do so.

2. Less Stress

As we become more flexible, holding the awareness that time is socially constructed, which takes practice, we then realize that we can release the stress that we create about time-bound situations and events. Yep.

We can release that stress, and replace it with a renewed interest in being present. Present to everything in our lives, in each and every moment. Precious.

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Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

3. Reduced Anxiety

Holding time within ourselves differently, which creates less stress, also reduces our overall anxiety levels. There are so many people on this planet that have high levels of anxiety.

Yes, about lots of things, yet, considering time as one of the most important aspects of our lives causes a ton of that stress and, yep, related anxiety.

Yet, releasing that time-bound stress, releases the anxiety. Very helpful.

4. Greater Understanding

We also learn more about ourselves, and then have a greater understanding of, yes, ourselves, and about all people. We can connect with people on another level entirely. Why?

Because, we have connected to ourselves on an entirely different level. It works that way. We become more aware of our time-bound habits, and then can see them more clearly in ourselves and in others. Helpful.

5. More Grace

As we are more aware of our own behaviors related to time, and practice releasing the stress and anxiety that develops as a product of time-bound thinking, we can give ourselves more grace. And?

We can also extend that grace to others. If there is one thing on this planet we can all us more of, it’s grace. Given to ourselves and to each other. Important.

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Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

6. Deeper Compassion

Along with granting ourselves more grace, we also develop a deeper level of compassion for the human condition. Most all of us are socialized to place importance on time.

With that knowledge, we can release ourselves from any blame or shame for the stress we’ve caused ourselves and others at the expense of time-bound thinking and acting.

And, as we deepen the compassion we have for ourselves, we also deepen the compassion we can extend toward others. Lovely.

7. More Peace

With our practice of holding time differently in our awareness, we also have more peace. More peace about all aspects of our lives that we once associated with time-bound situations and events, and the associated outcomes, or results.

And, when we have more peace, we can also extend that peace out to everyone. Phew. That is important.

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Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Alright, there are 7 Reasons Why Considering Time as a Social Construction is Important to Your Life. Fun.

Remember, time is only important, when we create that importance. I’m not saying that we don’t take our commitments and agreements that are time-bound seriously.

Those time-bound commitments and agreements are very important. My days are full of them; and, I mean full. All day, every day.

Yet, we don’t have to associate time-bound commitments and agreements with a stressful conception of time. It’s a paradox, like most things in life.

You can both hold time as a socially constructed illusion and as an important aspect of your life in regard to meeting our commitments and agreements.

It is really in between the two, considering ourselves as bound in time and not, where you have the power to live, laugh, and love with less stress and anxiety, and way more flexibility, understanding, grace, compassion, and peace.

Be well. Consider well.

#anxiety, #compassion, #flexibility, #grace, #humandevelopment, #peace, #philosophy, #selfimprovement, #socialconstruct, #socialconstruction, #sociology, #stress, #timeasanillusion, #timeasasocialconstruction, #understanding

The Social Construction Series Part 4: The Social Construction of Reality

A Fluid Representation of Many Worlds

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In the first installment of the Social Construction Series, we discussed why understanding social constructionism is important to our daily lives. How we interpret our world, think and feel about it; choices we make, and practices we keep, or let go of. Important.

In the second installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that all knowledge is socially constructed. All of it. And, how the production, distribution, and access, or lack thereof, to knowledge affects our lives. Also important.

In the third installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that our identities, every part of them, are also socially constructed. Giving us power and the freedom to create our identity as we want it to be, not as someone has said it should be.

In this fourth installment, we will discuss the social construction of reality; and, why considering a different way to think about reality as important to our lives, to your life. Important to the human being you are today, and the human being you want to be tomorrow. Ready? Let’s go.

Well, what exactly is reality? How does it function, and why do we understand our world as the reality it is? Hm. Let’s define reality, shall we. Here we go.

reality

noun OPAL WOPAL S /riˈæləti/ /riˈæləti/(plural realities)Idiom

[uncountable] the true situation and the problems that actually exist in life, in contrast to how you would like life to be

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Very good. Ah, I see. Reality is a true situation. Well, then what does truth mean. Let’s take a look. Stay with me.

truth

noun  /truːθ/ /truːθ/(plural truths  /truːðz/  /truːðz/)Word FamilyIdioms

the truth [singular] the true facts about something, rather than the things that have been invented or guessed

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Okay, here’s what we have so far.

Reality is a true, or factual account of a situation inherent with problems that exist in contrast to what you’d like your reality to be. Hm. Not sure about these definitions. How about you? Let’s look at a different way to think about reality.

Here you go.

“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As man externalizes himself, he constructs the world into which he externalizes himself. In the process of externalization, he projects his own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.80 b.”
― Peter L. Berger, 

The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge

Alright, so what do you read here? Okay. Well, let me tell you what I read.

That reality, all reality, is a projection of what it is that we think it is. That’s about it.

Reality is about a created truth, our factual account, of a situation inherent with problems, and possibilities, that is seen to exist.

And, who prey, creates it and sees it? Well, you do, I do.

Our realities, however, are different. Your reality is not the same as mine, which is why having general statements, as in the aforementioned definitions from Oxford, are problematic. They’re not inclusive enough, and leave people wanting, and, in some cases, confused.

Right, well, what then?

Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why understanding the social construction of reality as a fluid representation of a world, nay many worlds (over 7 billion in fact), is important to your life. Ready? Here we go.

A Fluid Representation of Many Worlds

If we begin to consider reality as fluid, always shifting and moving, we release ourselves from the false notion that reality is in some way a static, or solid, representation of that which we see. Make sense?

Reality is influenced by several key factors. Here are a few.

  1. Our current state of mind
  2. Our emotional state
  3. Our past
  4. Our present situation
  5. Our future

Complex, yet simple. Another fun paradox.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Our current state of mind

What we believe, we see. Yep. True. If we believe the world is full of bad people with hidden agendas, guess what we’ll see? Yep. A world full of bad people with hidden agendas.

Conversely, if we believe the world is full of good people with noble intentions, yes, that is what we will see.

Now, the world is not binary.

The world is full of both, that which we will find good and that which we will find bad. The point is that, what we expect to see, is what we will see; and, that then becomes our reality.

2. Our emotional state

Our emotions, like our mind, are powerful. How we feel, especially if we are sensitive to our emotions, like I am, influences how we see the world.

If we feel hopeful, we will see hope. If we feel despair, yep, we will see despair. It works that way. Again, complex, and yet quite simple.

Of course, we know that we have many emotions within us, and they come and go like waves in the ocean. Here, then gone, here again, then gone again.

The point is when we are unaware of our emotional state, we are not aware of how our emotions are influencing our perception of reality.

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3. Our past

When we focus on our past, especially when that past is full of things we label as a problem, we can literally bring those problems into our present reality. Really.

If we are focusing more on what happened yesterday, than the present context, we are creating a disruption in the reality right in front of us, and, in effect, replacing that reality with an alternative version from a past time.

However, when we are aware that our minds work this way, we can catch ourselves living in the past, and shift our attention back to the present moment, and let go of the past.

4. Our present situation

If we are not at peace with our present reality, we will continue to see issues and problems. In effect, creating even more issues and problems as possible.

When we fight against the reality we see, we make our current reality into a larger problem, and, at the same time, increase our own pain and suffering.

However, if we recognize this pattern, or habit, we can disrupt the habit and replace it with understanding and grace. We can change our reality into something that is more congruent with what we want to see. Finding more peace and harmony in the process.

5. Our future

When we are scared of the future, or feel like the future will only ever be a reproduction of the past, limited and painful, that is what our future will be. Simple. That which we put our attention on expands, and becomes our reality.

Yet, when we let go of our past, and remain open to our future being all that we want it to be, we can begin to shift our attention and create a reality that is quite different.

We can begin to create the future reality that we want to manifest. One that is full of possibility.

Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

Many worlds

Reality is fluid and dynamic, not stable and static. And, we have the power within us to create the reality we want to live into. We do.

There are over 7 billion worlds (realities) on this planet. One reality for each of us. Yep. The paradox?

Sure, here you go.

Though there are over 7 billion worlds on this one planet, there are certain things we agree on. Yep. Example? Sure, we all mostly agree that a tree is a tree, right? The sun is the sun, the stars are stars.

Yet, know that a tree, the sun, and the stars were not always called such. They weren’t. There was a time when they were called something else, and a time when they were called nothing at all. They just existed. That’s it.

Know that the reality you want to live into is available to you. Has been, is, and will always be available.

Reality is socially constructed by each of us every minute of every day. Next time you find yourself frustrated about your current reality, ask yourself why that’s so.

Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself.

  1. In my current state of mind, am I expecting to see frustration?
  2. Is my emotional state having an impact on how I am seeing my reality?
  3. Am I thinking about my past experiences, and bringing them into my present reality?
  4. Am I not at peace with my present situation?
  5. Am I thinking that the future will only ever be a reproduction of my past?

When you ask yourself these questions, see what you get back. And, shift your attention away from these thoughts and emotions, and to the present reality. And?

Begin to create the future you’ve been waiting for. Make that future your reality now, today. You are the only one that can do so.

Create well.

#emotionalintelligence, #humandevelopment, #philosphy, #psychology, #realityasmanyworlds, #selfdevelopment, #socialconstruction, #socialconstructionism, #sociology, #thesocialconstructionofreality

A Blogger’s Diary 10/6/20: On Social Constructionism, Integrity, and A Final Note on Curiosity

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A few weeks ago I started the social construction series, which includes two entries:

  1. The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important
  2. The Social Construction Series Part 2: 5 Reasons Why Understanding The Social Construction of Knowledge is Important

Now I’m working on a third; the social construction of reality. Yep. And, why is understanding the social construction of reality important? Hm. Power.

As we discussed in 4 Reasons Why Language Is Power, how we describe our reality in language, whether we are describing something internal or external to ourselves, is powerful. It is in essence the reality that we know.

Writing the piece on the social construction of reality is really fun; and, I hope you will all enjoy it.

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Right, so integrity. What’s the deal with integrity? Important, yes? I’ve actually read a couple of posts in the past couple of weeks that have mentioned integrity, and I am excited to add my lens to the mix this week.

I think about integrity a little differently, which simply means I conceptualize, internalize, and practice integrity in a way that pushes on the traditional notions of integrity.

It is important to investigate definitions, to push on them when needed, and to conceptualize them differently when they don’t work as intended.

The definition of reality and truth, as we will discuss in the social construction of reality is a good example of this notion, as is the post I am writing on integrity. Will be fun.

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

Alright, I also wanted to close the book, for now, on curiosity with one final note. Ready?

As we discussed in the post, Why Curiosity Didn’t Kill The Cat: 7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset, remaining curious is important to our development.

Maintaining a growth mindset, which I will also write more about in the next couple of weeks, by remaining curious means that we get to take in all of the wonder that surrounds us.

That’s important right now. Maybe more important than ever before.

Remaining curious means taking time for yourself. Taking time to be quiet, to walk by yourself, for yourself, to reflect, to question, to contemplate, and to discover.

When we take time for ourselves, we get back so much more. It is a paradox. Often people think that being continuously busy is the way to get back more, or to progress more, or to move themselves forward more.

And, being active, actively creating the life you want to manifest for yourself is important, yet, not at the expense of your own internal contemplation, reflection, and discovery time.

Example? Sure.

Yesterday, I came home from a very busy day, and immediately took a nap. Yep, been doing that more often. Feels good. Refreshing.

Watch what happens though. Ready?

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

I then got up, had a little something to eat, and started working again. And, guess what? I became frustrated? Why?

Because I had essentially gone from work, to sleep, and back to work. What did I do?

I stopped, turned out the light, and meditated for 30-minutes. And?

Inside of that meditation I had a couple of really nice insights, which then fueled the rest of my evening. Meaning that I switched from work, to writing, and developed this week’s ideas for my blog.

My invitation to you on this wonderful Tuesday evening is to remember to take time for yourself. Unplug, go for a walk, meditate, just sit. Do whatever it is that you do to refresh your inner-self.

It is in this space where curiosity and everything else in life for that matter lives; and, where you will find the answers to the questions you are asking yourself right now.

Take time for you. You deserve it.

#blogger, #bloggers-diary, #blogging, #curiosity, #integrity, #socialconstruct, #socialconstruction, #socialconstructionism, #sociology

The Social Construction Series Part 2: 5 Reasons Why Understanding The Social Construction of Knowledge is Important

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In The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important, I write about the need to understand how the world is actually socially constructed. All of it. Important.

One of the most important social constructions to understand is how knowledge is socially constructed. Numerous books and articles have been written on this topic, from both a theoretical and practical perspective.

Here, we will explore the social construction of knowledge likewise. Both theoretically and practically. Ready? Let’s go.

Let’s first define knowledge.

knowledge

noun ˈnɒlɪdʒ/ /ˈnɑːlɪdʒ/

  1. [uncountable, singular] the information, understanding, and skills that you gain through education or
    1. experience practical/medical/scientific knowledge
    2. knowledge of/about something He [she] has a wide knowledge of painting and music.
    3. There is a lack of knowledge about the tax system.

There we go.

Now before we go onto our discussion, let’s take a look at what two prominent philosophers had to say about knowledge, Jurgen Habermas, and Michel Foucault.

Habermas’s Perspective

“Habermas argues that domination is an obstacle in the pursuit of true knowledge” (Anttonen, Saila. 1999).

University of Leeds

Foucault’s Perspective

“Foucault, however, argues that all knowledge is constituted and socially constructed under conditions of power” (Anttonen, Saila. 1999).

University of Leeds

And, what prey tell, do both of these philosophers consider an obstacle to knowledge for some, and a boon for others? Power.

Let’s now consider the social construction of knowledge.

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How is Knowledge Constructed?

Knowledge is continually produced, internalized, and practiced, or acted upon. Though not always in this order. Sometimes intellectual knowledge precedes practical knowledge, and sometimes practical knowledge precedes intellectual knowledge. Depends.

Think about a time when you learned something through doing. For instance, learning how to drive a car. You can possess the intellectual knowledge about how to drive a car, yet until you actually drive a car, you don’t possess the knowledge necessary to drive a car.

You need both. And, in fact, some would argue, as would I, that practical knowledge outweighs intellectual knowledge. For it is in the doing, or practice, that we learn the most.

We accumulate the real knowledge about something when we do it.

Conversely, however, you can ask me to create a presentation on the social construction of knowledge, yet unless I possess the intellectual knowledge about the social construction of knowledge, I will be unable to create that presentation, try as I might.

Therefore, knowledge is constructed two ways. Through our intellect and through practice. Both.

Who Constructs Knowledge?

Everyone constructs knowledge. From a young child to an older adult, knowledge is continuously produced, internalized, and practiced. Knowledge is all around us. Everywhere.

Think about an interaction you’ve had recently where you learned something new, or taught someone something new. That is knowledge production.

Knowledge is produced, internalized, and practiced continuously, all day, every day.

Yet, there is some knowledge that is considered more illusive, more special, or maybe the more appropriate term is specialized. You typically go to University, College, or Trade School to learn about these types of specialized knowledge.

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Who Constructs Specialized Knowledge

Simple answer, experts. Yet, what does that really mean? Ah, good question. Someone is considered an expert when they have attained a reasonable amount of intellectual and or practical knowledge about a particular subject or topic. Simple. Why does this matter?

Because the humans that have constructed this knowledge, are just that, human. Meaning that they are like you, like me, and like everyone else. Full of strengths and weaknesses. Both

People often get caught up in the term, expert, thinking that because someone has a degree or certification in one specialized area or another, that they should know what is best for us, or know the best path to take in a certain area of our lives.

Yet, because experts are also human means that they are not infallible. Important. Additionally, because we know that the world and all knowledge within it is socially constructed, we also know that there are many, many ways to understand a subject or topic. Many ways. Not one.

Further, not all knowledge about a particular subject or topic has yet been discovered. Meaning that there is always something more to learn. Always.

Here is what Socrates said about knowledge.

“At the trial, Socrates says, “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Socrates put emphasis on knowledge all his life because he believed that “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong lies in people’s reason not in society.”

The Independent

Ah, wonderful. According to Socrates, then, it is up to the individual, each one of us, to distinguish between right and wrong. And that includes distinguishing between the right and wrong of what someone is telling us is true about our bodies, families, community, and the greater world.

Of course, that does not mean that we don’t need assistance from others, and access to the knowledge we need to make informed decisions and choices. Quite the contrary. More assistance and access is needed.

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How is Knowledge Disseminated?

Knowledge is disseminated in many different ways. We’ve covered some of them already, such as through Universities, Colleges,and Trade Schools. Yet, knowledge is also produced, internalized, and practiced in many other social contexts, which are typically referred to as social institutions.

Before we go further, let’s define the term social institution.

“Typically, contemporary sociologists use the term to refer to complex social forms that reproduce themselves such as governments, the family, human languages, universities, hospitals, business corporations, and legal systems. A typical definition is that proffered by Jonathan Turner (1997: 6): “a complex of positions, roles, norms and values lodged in particular types of social structures and organising relatively stable patterns of human activity with respect to fundamental problems in producing life-sustaining resources, in reproducing individuals, and in sustaining viable societal structures within a given environment.”

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Ah, helpful. Thus far, we’ve covered the social construction of knowledge within University, College, and Trade Schools, yet as you can read above, there are many social institutions that socially construct knowledge.

The issue? Same as with the socially constructed knowledge that Universities, College’s, and Trade Schools produce. When we internalize a socially constructed view of the world, and our place in it, we are receiving knowledge that has been produced within a very particular framework.

And, those frameworks include within them people that have biases, just like you and I. Yep. We can deny we have biases, yet we all have them. They are part of socialization.

All socialization, which just means the how, what, why, when, and where of all that you learned as a child, youth, and young adult has within it bias. It has to. It’s one way of viewing the world. Yet, it’s not the only way.

Now, choose any social institution you like, and we can discuss the problems inherent with the production, internalization, and then the eventual reproduction of that knowledge through practice, or action. What problems, you ask? Good question.

One of the largest problems, or issues, we have just discussed. Because we know that knowledge is socially constructed, and we know that all social institutions have within them a particular worldview (or bias) this knowledge then, which is often told as truth, is not truth.

This knowledge is, rather, a subjective interpretation of life and the world through one lens, or viewpoint.

However, when we internalize this socially constructed knowledge as truth, we limit ourselves. We limit that which we can really know about the world and life. If we are conscious of this fact, and continue to choose a limited framework, very well.

However, most people are unaware, so do not actively choose. They subscribe to a particular set of knowledge constructs because they were socialized to do so. Many people live their entire lives this way.

Hm. What to do? Before we get to that question, let’s take a look at obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge. Important.

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What are the obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge?

As we’ve discussed, Habermas and Foucault would both argue that power is an obstacle to the acquisition of knowledge. Meaning that with more power comes more knowledge. Or, maybe, it’s that with more knowledge comes more power?

Actually power and knowledge have a reciprocal relationship. Meaning that with more knowledge, you do have more power. Likewise, with more power, you have more access to knowledge. Truth.

And, then?

Well, those with power construct more knowledge, especially of the specialized kind. And, as we’ve discussed, accessing such knowledge is inaccessible for many people.

Therefore understanding how knowledge is socially constructed is important for everyone. Why?

5 Reasons Why Understanding The Social Construction of Knowledge is Important

1. Know matter how much you know intellectually, you must practice it

Practicing our intellectual knowledge is necessary to develop ourselves. When we learn something, and internalize it, the cycle of knowledge production is not complete.

We must practice that knowledge to really know it.

Once practiced, we know it through our entire selves, which is a very different experience than simply having intellectual knowledge about a subject or topic.

2. You can do something with that which you know, or are knowledgeable about

Knowing that knowledge is socially constructed, and that you are an active participant in constructing knowledge creates an opportunity for you to practice distributing your particular knowledge to others.

You are the only one that can educate someone on that which you know, just as you know it.

And, when you give out that which you are knowledgeable about, you will get back that which someone else is knowledgeable about. Meaning, that you will now have acquired more knowledge by giving someone your knowledge. Reciprocal learning.

3. Specialized knowledge is an interpretation, so question it

When we know that all knowledge is socially constructed, we know that questioning all that we learn is necessary and needed. We must question what experts tell us is true about our bodies, families, community, and the greater world.

When we begin to question other people’s truths, we create a space to develop ourselves more. Why?

Because we have created a space to learn more from the expert. Simple. When we don’t take expert knowledge at face value, we create a space to learn more about the subject or topic. Keep questioning.

4. Because bias is inherent in all socially constructed knowledge, be wary of limitation

When we accept knowledge as true, which is given to us by a social institution we limit ourselves. We limit what is knowable.

However, as was aforementioned, when we question that knowledge, we create the opportunity to learn more, and develop more. We don’t accept one worldview or interpretation of the world, which is limiting.

We know knowledge is socially constructed, so we question. We question the knowledge. We become unlimited.

5. Search for knowledge everywhere, both intellectually, and in practice

When we know that knowledge precedes and follows power, we can intentionally create opportunities to learn more. Acquiring more knowledge, both intellectually and practically, moves us forward as human beings.

When we internalize and practice what we learn, we also create an opportunity to produce something out of this knowledge. Of which this article is an example.

And, when we practice that which we know, we have more power as a human being.

In Closing: Question Everything

My final thoughts on the social construction of knowledge is to question everything. Really.

Question the knowledge you now have. Question the knowledge people communicate to you. Question all of it. Powerful.

We choose to accept the knowledge that we have, as well as the knowledge that is communicated to us as true. However, when we know that the world is socially constructed, and that all knowledge is likewise socially constructed, we create an opportunity to question these truths.

Both the ones we’ve considered as truth for most of our lives, and other people’s truths.

We also create a developmental opportunity for ourselves, and as we have discussed, for everyone that we know. We move ourselves from a limited framework to an unlimited one.

Remember, on any subject or topic, there is more to learn. Always. Because we know this to be true, there is always an opportunity to share your knowledge with someone, and for them to share their knowledge with you.

That which you know is powerful. That which you can learn about is powerful.

Knowledge that is produced, internalized, and practiced is socially constructed by you, by me, by experts, by every human being. Thus, question it, question all of it.

Definition of knowledge taken from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

#bias, #creatingknowledge, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #education, #foucaultandknowledgeandpower, #habermasandknowledgeandpower, #humandevelopment, #internalizedknowledge, #jurgenhabermas, #knoweldgeproduction, #knowledgedissemintation, #knowledgeproduction, #michelfoucault, #power, #practicalknolwedge, #psychology, #selfdevelopment, #socialconstruct, #socialconstruction, #socialconstructionism, #socialinstitutions, #sociology, #socratesandknowledge, #specializedknowledge, #thefamily, #theroreticalknowledge, #worldview

The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important

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Have you ever heard of the phrase a social construction? Maybe? Well, I hadn’t heard of it until I went back to school in my early 30’s. I was in a class on gender, and the professor said something like, gender is socially constructed.

At first, I was like, wait, what? I had no idea what the professor was talking about. Nope, not at all. As the professor continued to explain the concept, I almost fell out of my chair. Seriously. I was so baffled, confused, and interested, all at the same time.

I grew up in a family where ideas like social constructs were unavailable. Not a judgment, just reality. And, it’s okay. There are many, many families across this country that don’t have access to these kinds of ideas, and knowledge. Part of my passion and mission. Dissemination. Here we go.

Let’s define social constructionism.

“Social constructionism is a general term sometimes applied to theories that emphasize the socially created nature of social life. Of course, in one sense all sociologists would argue this, so the term can easily become devoid of meaning. More specifically, however, the emphasis on social constructionism is usually traced back at least to the work of William Isaac Thomas and the Chicago sociologists, as well as the phenomenological sociologists and philosophers such as Alfred Schutz. Such approaches emphasize the idea that society is actively and creatively produced by human beings. They portray the world as made or invented—rather than merely given or taken for granted. Social worlds are interpretive nets woven by individuals and groups.

Oxford Reference

Alright, so the basic idea is that all of life, all if it, is socially constructed. Meaning, simply, that all that we know is created again and again by people. These creations are then shared between and within groups. Shared meaning is derived from these created social constructs, or concepts. What concepts you ask?

Tree. Sun. Love. Life. Health.

Photo by Miha Rekar on Unsplash

All things we see and know. They are all socially constructed. Sometimes groups share and agree on their meaning across cultures, sometimes there are variations specific to particular cultures or geographies.

Why does it matter?

Because if everything we see and know is socially constructed, then all that we argue about, disagree about, and sometimes fight about is based upon ideas and ideals that are created. Created by people.

Understanding that the world is socially constructed is very important.

Important to individuals and how they internalize and understand their place in the world; and, it is also important to how groups understand their relation to each other.

When we know that everything is socially constructed, we have freedom from ideas and concepts, because we know they are not naturally occurring.

You may say, well, love is love and I know what that is, and how it feels to be in love. Yes. And, I am saying that love, even though you feel it, and know it, is still a concept. It is a concept associated with a particular way of being and feeling.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

And, guess what? Naturally occurring, or biological concepts, are also social constructions. Tree. Yep. Biological, right? Yet, a tree is still a concept. Believe me. There was a time when a tree was not called a tree. A tree is a concept.

Alright, let’s look at 7 reasons why understanding social constructions is important.

  1. Gives us freedom from concepts.
  2. Creates access to new knowledge and power.
  3. Provides us a new perspective on how the world occurs.
  4. Empowers us to understand why we internalize concepts as real, even when they are not.
  5. Helps us understand each other on a deeper level.
  6. Assists groups in understanding each other; either how they relate, or how they differ.
  7. Creates an important distinction about language. How we use it, and how it affects how we see and experience ourselves, each other, and the world.

How can you use this information?

Question everything. Important. Here is a quote about questioning that I love.

“We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as being wrong. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. And we awaken by turning on the light inside when everything outside feels dark.”  -Suzy Kassem

Awaken the Greatness Within

You can find quote after quote online about asking questions. Really. Asking questions is that important. Questioning that which others take for granted as real, or right, or wrong, gives you an immediate advantage. How?

Because most people won’t ask. They believe in what they see, hear, feel, and think they know. Why? It’s easier. More comfortable. Not a judgment. It’s okay not to question.

However, when we ask our questions, and actively participate in the contexts we are living in, we get back much more. Much, much more.

My invitation to you is to ask questions. You know, the ones that you’ve been holding onto for years. You know they’re there. And, it’s okay. It’s even okay to hold onto them, if you want to. However, it is way more fun to ask them. Way more. 🙂

Alright, that concludes the first part of the social construction series. Next time? Funny you should ask. I’ve already come up with it.

The social construction of knowledge. Will be fun.

Until then, question.

#concepts, #groupdevelopment, #individualdevelopment, #internalization, #knowledge, #language, #learning, #newperspective, #philosophy, #power, #poweroflanguage, #social-construction, #socialconstruct, #sociology

4 Reasons Why Language Is Power

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Ever thought about the power of language? Yes, no? I hadn’t until about three years ago. Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, about three years ago I began to develop myself, really develop.

And, when you work on yourself, from the inside out, which is the only real way, you begin to understand the power that we, you, hold within you. It is a vast power, and language is a part of that power.

Before we begin to look at the power of language, let’s start with a definition.

language

NOUN
1. The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.

Oxford Languages

Alright, pretty straightforward, right? Do you read anything in there about the power of language? No, me either. However, it’s there, believe me. Let’s take a look then at 4 reasons why language is so powerful.

1. Language is what we use to create meaning

As I’ve written about in other posts, human beings are meaning-makers. We continuously construct narratives, or stories, about life. We take in information, a stimulus, and we convert that information into a patterned story about how we perceive ourselves. Then we respond.

We respond from the space of the story. From the beliefs we hold about who we are. Can you see the power in that. Pretty powerful.

For instance, if we believe we are limited, because someone told us that when we were little, we will respond from a space of limit. Without thinking about it. Important.

In this example, it’s not as if we are consciously thinking about these limitations. These limitations live in the stories we tell ourselves, and others about who we are. They operate independently. Aware of them or not, they are there. Powerful.

Imagine deciding to not do something because someone told us not to do that thing when we were little. If we really sit inside of this concept, it may fill us with sadness.

Know, however, that at the end of this article we will discuss how to get in touch with the stories we have. Why? Because when we are aware of them, even though we don’t know all of them, we can choose a different response. We can create new stories.

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2. Language is what we use to communicate

Though verbal and written communication are not the only ways we communicate with each other, they are two of the primary ways we do so. We take that which we know to be “true,” drawn from the stories we have about ourselves, and use it to construct language to communicate with people.

Further, when we communicate with people, and they do or say something to confirm the story we have about ourselves, that story becomes more codified.

These stories, then, have been “confirmed” over years and years of inner-dialogue, and are also “proven” by those we interact with. Complex. And simple.

For instance, if I believe that I am limited, and act that way, then those around me, after time, will stop asking me to do things that stretch me, or make me uncomfortable.

Not because they don’t want me to stretch and grow, rather because I always say no. I confirm for them my own self-perceived limitation. And, in return, they confirm that limitation in my mind by not asking me to stretch and grow.

Thomas Cooley wrote about this concept over 100 years ago.

“The looking-glass self describes the process wherein individuals base their sense of self on how they believe others view them. Using social interaction as a type of “mirror,” people use the judgments they receive from others to measure their own worth, values, and behavior”

Lesley University

And, then sociologist Erving Goffman took Cooley’s work further.

“The term ‘symbolic interactionism’ refers, of course, to the peculiar and distinctive character of interaction as it takes place between human beings. The peculiarity consists in the fact that human beings interpret or ‘define’ each other’s actions instead of merely reacting to each other’s actions. Their ‘response’ is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another’s actions.” (Blumer, p. 180, in Paul Gingrich)

Hawaii.edu

Therefore, how we think is how we act, believe, and perceive. And, those around us do the same. Have you ever had an interaction with someone that didn’t know you, and they interacted with you in a way that didn’t fit the story you have of yourself? Yes? What did you do?

Did you align with your own story about the person you believe yourself to be? Or, did you act in a different way? Most of the time, people will continue to behave as they have, which is consistent with the actions, beliefs, and perceptions they have of who they are.

Reason? Because to act, believe, and perceive otherwise is incongruent with their perceived identity. And, all of it, the actions we take, and the beliefs and perceptions we have first of all live in language. That is powerful.

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3. Language is what we use to make sense of the world

When you look out your window, what do you see? A tree? A bush? The sun or moon? Whatever you see, and the words you use to describe the world all live in language. All of it.

Think about the word sun. Where did that come from? Well, let’s take a quick look.

Origin

“Old English sunne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zon and German Sonne, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek hēlios and Latin sol .”

Oxford Languages

And, even cursory searches of the internet will show that the roots of the word sun cross cultures.

“This is ultimately related to the word for “sun” in other branches of the Indo-European language family, though in most cases a nominative stem with an l is found, rather than the genitive stem in n, as for example in Latin sōl, Greek ἥλιος hēlios, Welsh haul and Russian солнце solntse (pronounced sontse), as well as (with *l > r) Sanskrit स्वर svár and Persian خور‎ xvar. Indeed, the l-stem survived in Proto-Germanic as well, as *sōwelan, which gave rise to Gothic sauil (alongside sunnō) and Old Norse prosaic sól (alongside poetic sunna), and through it the words for “sun” in the modern Scandinavian languages: Swedish and Danish solen, Icelandic sólin, etc.”

Handbook of Germain Etymology

Yet, is the sun, the sun? Or is it a star? Same with a tree. Is a tree, a tree? Or, is it something else. The point? That the language we use to describe the world becomes just that. The world we see. The world we know.

When we see a tree, we don’t question the fact that at some point a tree was not called a tree. Nor was the sun called the sun. They were called something else, or nothing at all.

The relationship we have with the language we use to describe the world we see and perceive as our reality, is therefore extremely important, and powerful. It must be.

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4. Language is what we use to create our reality

Yep. Truth. Language is what we use to create meaning, to communicate, to understand the world, and to create our reality. In another post, I wrote something like, there are 7 billion different realities on this planet. Truth. How’s that?

Because we all understand our reality as we understand it. Yes, based on the stories we are told about who we are, the stories we then create to fit these stories, and the conformations we get from those around us that codify our notions of the stories we know to be true about who we are.

And, that is creating our reality. One thought, belief, and perception at a time.

However, because language, and our interpretation of it, is so powerful, we can also use language to create a different reality, with different stories, beliefs, and perceptions. Yep, we can.

Photo by Benigno Hoyuela on Unsplash

As with most things, first you need to be aware of the power of language. Check. Then, it is about learning to notice when you are creating a reality that consistently fits the story of who you think you are. If that is what you want for your reality. Awesome. Done. If not?

Once you are aware, and notice how you consistently continue to create a response to a stimulus that is in alignment with, let us say, limitation, you can begin to choose a different response.

A response that aligns with the reality you now want to create. A reality without limits. Powerful.

Phew, that was a lot. More than I expected in this one post. Yet, because language is so powerful, there is a lot more to write about. A lot more.

Yet we will leave that to a future post.

Language is powerful. We can use language to confirm all the things we think about ourselves, given to us by someone else, and continuously confirmed by ourselves and everyone around us. OR.

We can use language to disrupt that which we believe we know about ourselves, and use the power of language to create a whole new reality for ourselves. And, guess what?

Everytime someone chooses disruption over the status quo, everyone benefits. All of humanity does.

#beliefs, #communication, #concepts, #creatingmeaning, #creatingnarratives, #creatingstories, #language, #perceptions, #philosohpy, #practical, #practice, #psychology, #reality, #socialpsychology, #sociology, #stimulusresponse

The Blog + Video Series #6: COVID-19 and the Art of Possibility

Possibility: Noun – a thing that may happen or be the case.

I’ve been thinking more about possibility this week. What’s possible in our new landscape? Are the same things possible today, as were possible 6 months ago?

Not sure? Me either, so let’s take a look.

The Art of Possibility is about creating a context. A context specific to new ways to think about old and or new problems or issues. It is about letting go of preconceived notions of what is possible in a given situation.

The psychology of possibility is rather simple. Let go of the past, be in the present, and create the future from where you stand today, seeing reality as it is.

Not how we think it is, rather how it really is.

Seeing reality as it really is means being aware of our thinking patterns, and knowing when we are limiting ourselves by presuming or assuming we know all there is to know about a problem, issue, or situation we are faced with. Factually, humans know very little – if you don’t believe this blogger, read a little Socrates.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

The sociology of possibility involves creating traction with those around us in the art of possibility. As I’ve written elsewhere, humans are social animals, and rely upon connections with other humans.

It is only natural then that groups will function in accordance with the language they use to describe their shared reality. If that language is about limitation then limitation is what they will see and create.

If, however, that language is about possibility, then possibility is what they will see and create.

The possibility of possibility is about remaining open to new ideas, new understanding, and letting go of the notion that we know. Seems simple, yet can be difficult, as human beings are in some ways programmed to think they know more than they do, which is where vulnerability comes in.

Being open means being vulnerable.

Be vulnerable today in some way. Create and share a possibility with someone in your context, and, or create and share a possibility here. Either way, create and share. What else is there, really?

#covid-19, #creativity, #knowing, #learning, #possibilities, #possibility, #psychology, #sociology, #theartofpossibility, #vulnerability, #vulnerable

An Inquiry and Invitation Series 1: Imagination, Innovation, and Sociology?

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Have you ever thought about how the imagination works? I’ve not considered it overmuch, yet have been considering it more recently.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world is working to conceptualize new businesses, lifestyles, relationships, organizational structures, and staffing models.

There really is no safe haven from the need to innovate continuously right now. If you find yourself in a situation where creating new ways to conceptualize the aforementioned is unnecessary, I believe you are in the minority.

If you find yourself in the situation, like many, where the need to continuously innovate is your ever present reality. Breathe.

I’m thinking that a cursory look at imagination and innovation within a sociological context is an important inquiry. And, I think this inquiry is more important today than ever before. Why?

Because innovation is hard work. You can find yourself, as happens to me often, feeling frayed around the edges, and very tired. Yet, you must continue to persist.

Why? Because persistence inside of innovation is necessary and needed. The imagination, you ask? The imagination makes it all work.

Alright, so what does sociology have to do with the imagination?

As we’ve discussed in other posts, sociology is the study of group behavior. It is the study of how groups, and people within those groups, understand their place in a social and or cultural context. How they move, or are limited in movement, how they adapt, change, grow, work, and live.

Inquiring into imagination and innovation from a sociological perspective means taking a look at how innovation and imagination works in groups. Here are a couple of questions to get our inquiry started?

  • How do groups use their collective potential to utilize imagination in unique and innovative ways?
  • What are some strategies people can use to get the most out of their own imagination; and, harness the groups they belong to, to create innovative possibilities?
  • What does sociology have to do with imagination and innovation?

Okay, let’s start with these, and see what we get.

How do groups use their collective potential to utilize imagination in unique and innovative ways?

Though I can only speak to groups I’ve been a part of, I believe they probably function quite similarly, with some variance in the amount of creative output dependent on the members of the group.

For instance, in my current workgroup, we went from somewhat creative, to more creative in about 2 years, to very creative in year 3, and now, hyper-creative. Why the latter? Necessity.

As I’ve mentioned, the current state of reality right now demands it. You must stay on top of innovation, and your own personal and professional imagination is the gateway.

Here are some ways groups use their collective potential to imagine and innovate.

  • Share ideas with each other, all of them – often people are shy or fearful about sharing their creative potential, their own imagination to innovate. Don’t be. Share, and create, it is an awesome process.
  • Take people’s ideas further – when you are working with someone on a project, and they have an idea, take it further if you can. Step outside of timidness, and give all of your imaginative power to the project. You will get more innovation this way.
  • Step into ideas that live at the edge of what’s possible – live in a limitless space when you are imagining and innovating. Stay away from limits. Putting limits on your imagination, limits the project’s possibility.
  • Continue to reflect – even when you are not directly working on the project, continue to reflect upon the last conversation. You may get more imaginative insights, which will make your project more innovative.

What are some strategies people can use to get the most out of their own imagination; and, harness the groups they belong to, to create innovative possibilities?

There are many strategies you can use to kickstart your imagination. And, there are also various strategies to keep your imagination moving. Meaning, strategies to keep you open to more possibilities in the realm of the project you are working on. Let’s take a look at some of these.

  • Just get those ideas out – any way you can, get your ideas out of yourself, and into the world, somewhere, anywhere. Where and how matters less, than simply getting them out. An aside – once my oldest son came into my office, which was plastered with very large whiteboard post-its, and both white board walls were also full. He felt a little uneasy. He is now at a local company doing a computer science internship, and just recently shared with me that he understands the process of pouring forth your imagination in a whole new light. Get your ideas out.
  • Invite others to give you their insights – when you have your ideas out, have other people give you their insights. I find collaboration inside of imagination and innovation highly productive. You will find that they will take some of your ideas further, and then, guess what? You will take their additions to your ideas even further. A wonderful gift.
  • Let the ideas sit for a little while – one strategy I employ everyday inside of using my imagination to innovate is to let the newest ideas sit. Then I take time to reflect upon the ideas to see what other insights I get. Fun. I always get more insight after the initial creative output and collaboration.
  • Create a plan – as I’ve written about in many other posts, in order for your imaginative output to actually create innovative results, you must create a plan to bring the ideas into the world. Create a 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day plan, step 1, 2, 3, etc., to bring the project into the world.
  • Take action – once you have your plan in place, take at least one action a day. In order for a plan to actual bring forth your ideas, you will have to create time to actually work on the project. Too often projects fail, even with great ideas, because the actions to bring the project to life are not followed through on.

There are five very pragmatic strategies that, when used on a daily basis, will bring your imaginative potential to bear, and create more innovation within whatever context you are wanting to develop new possibilities.

What does sociology have to do with imagination and innovation?

How important is it to understand well those people you are in a relationship with? Yep, very. It is equally important to understand the groups you belong to just as well.

You must understand who in the group is the most imaginative and innovative. Why? Because you will know where to go for collaborative insight into the projects you are working on. Important.

And, to understand groups, it is important to understand how groups work, how they function within the greater context that the group belongs to.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

For instance, if you are on a team within a larger organization, you need to know what are the limits on your creative possibilities. How is the group looked upon within the organization? Are they seen as an innovation center? Or, are they required to work within a more strict protocol?

After working on my current team, I can tell you that a mandate for any future endeavor will have to include the ability to imagine, innovate, and create. A must. A dealbreaker for me if it is missing.

However, if you are not thinking about these questions and concepts before taking on a new job, or project, and you are an imaginative and innovative person, you may get stuck in a situation that limits your potential. Not helpful, and can feel quite limiting and restricting.

I should add here that we are all imaginative and innovative. Sometimes that imagination and innovation gets covered up with concepts like adulthood and being grown up. Sad, and unnecessary.

The most productive and timeless contributions to history are made by those with no limits. Who take on their work and their projects with a sense of play.

Creating possibilities through their imagination and innovative ideas, while also bringing those around them into the conversation to take their playful ideas even further. Wonderful, exciting, and really being alive.

An Invitation

Alright, your turn. I know well that we all think differently, and use different strategies to imagine and innovate, so I would love to hear from you. And, here is a question you can play with, or feel free to create your own, which would be very much in line with this post.

What do you think about imagination and innovation, and their relation to sociology, and understanding well the groups we work with?

#creativity, #group-behavior, #imagination, #innovation, #innovative-possibilities, #innovative-strategies, #inquiry, #invitation, #play-at-work, #possibilities, #sociology, #work-as-play

The Sociological Imagination and Mindfulness: Knowledge Acquisition, Thoughtful Choice, and Possibility

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When people think of, and talk about, mindfulness, they are usually drawing from a frame that mostly focuses on the individual and their psychology. That is the most popular way to think about mindfulness.

However, I think there are possible benefits to considering mindfulness from a sociological perspective, which might have implications for society as a whole.

Let’s first take a look at what mindfulness is, which will require examining the psychology of mindfulness. We will also take a practical look at the practice of mindfulness, and lastly will consider a new way to look at mindfulness, which is through a sociological perspective.

Mindfulness and Individual Psychology

I’ve practiced mindfulness and meditation the past couple of years. Though relatively new to mindfulness and meditation, I do know that mindfulness, and the theory and practice of it, are focused on the individual and their psychology.

Mindfulness is about focusing one’s attention on the present moment, on the thoughts that are occuring in that present moment, and the emotions and bodily sensations that accompany those thoughts (Lexico, 2020).

It is about becoming more aware of how your thoughts drive your behavior, and how that behavior, then, is a product of your thinking.

I’ve written in other posts that humans are programmed to create narratives, or stories, about their experiences. It is how people make sense of the world. However, when you create stories about your perceived reality, these thinking patterns can also overdramatize reality, which can cause pain and suffering.

Though we can speak of mindfulness as a theory, it is best, in my opinion, talked about in regard to practicing mindfulness.

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is about creating an awareness around the way you think so you can disrupt negative thinking patterns, and replace them with positive ones. You can also think about it like, replacing those overly dramatic thought patterns, or stories, with reality. Creating distinctions between what really happened, and what you believe happened based upon your overly dramatized thoughts.

And, of course the thoughts that we draw upon to create an overly dramatized story are grounded in past experiences. These experiences can be something that happened recently, however, often they are from long ago, such as childhood experiences.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

When we create a storied reality, rather than experiencing reality as it is, or as it is happening, we are creating the possibility, and probability of more suffering.

Humans are drawn to drama. Drawn to creating it, and living in it, yet it is not the only way to live. We can shift our thinking by practicing mindfulness, creating increased awareness within ourselves that recognizes when we are living in our heads, as it were, instead of living in the moment.

Meditation is another tool utilized in a mindfulness practice. Practicing meditation can slow down the reactive mind, increasing the possibility of noticing when you are creating negative thought patterns, or are confusing reality with a story from long ago.

There is a lot of research on mindfulness and the distinct advantages on overall mental health, which is why we mostly see mindfulness written about in regard to the individual, or psychology. However, after practicing mindfulness for a couple of years, I can see far reaching implications for employing mindfulness across society.

However, before we look at mindfulness and the potential positive impacts on society, let’s take a look at the study of sociology, which takes group behavior as its research focus.

Sociology and the Sociological Imagination

The study of sociology is the study of group behavior. More importantly, it is the understanding that can develop when one considers their place within a broader social context (Mills, 1959).

In 1959, C. Wright Mills wrote:

What they need, and what they feel they need, is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. It is this quality, I am going to contend, that journalists and scholars, artists and publics, scientists and editors are coming to expect of what may be called the sociological imagination (Mills, 1959).

In short, the sociological imagination is about understanding your place within a given society, or cultural context. It is about understanding how the social construction of that society or culture impedes, and or advances your particular milieux.

Photo by Katie Jowett on Unsplash

With that knowledge, one can better understand how their own personally context, and associated socialization and development, to a certain degree, were shaped by the social or cultural order in which they live.

That you are embedded within a broader social context, and having an awareness of how that context functions, is important to how you think, feel, and behave. It also helps us understand people in our context, those we know, and those we don’t, yet interact with.

Sociology and the Sociological Imagination in particular, help us understand the broader context within which we live, which provides us more information about how we relate to that social or cultural context, and how others in our immediate context also relate to that social or cultural context. Simply, it provides us more knowledge and a new way to think about and see our environment.

The Sociology of Mindfulness

When I think about the sociology of mindfulness , I’m thinking about people using mindfulness to gain an even deeper understanding of 1) their particular position in the social and or culture order in which they live; and, 2) how the knowledge of their position in the social and cultural context combined with practicing mindfulness might create more time for people to choose their next actions more thoughtfully.

As I’ve described in other posts, humans have reactive minds, which means that we often react to our environment with little time to think about the actions that we are creating and taking.

Mindfulness is the practice, as was aforementioned, of slowing down that reactive process. When the reaction process is slowed down, we have more time to choose the next action we want to take.

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

If we have an increased likelihood of choosing a next action that we have actually considered thoughtfully, we have the opportunity to actual create new ways of being, understanding, and living. If we do not, we simply reproduce actions that we’ve taken before. And, if we create these new choices within a social or cultural order in which we fully understand, we have more power.

This, then, for me is the crux of the sociology of mindfulness. The intersection of conscious choice, and our own individual relationship to and within the social and cultural order in which we live.

When I searched the internet for the sociology of mindfulness, most of what I found was describing using mindfulness inside of sociology classes (WW Norton and Company, Inc. 2014). I also found one that talked directly about the sociology of mindfulness, and the possible impacts of considering mindfulness in regard to self-management and personhood (Huesken, 2019).

I did not, however, find an article that directly addressed the ramifications of practicing mindfulness on the social or cultural order. Though I did not find an article addressing the aforementioned, I do believe that practicing mindfulness is important to both the individual and the society or culture in which they live.

Further, I believe that developing a sociological imagination alongside a mindfulness practice may help people:

  • Better position themselves in their social or cultural contexts
  • Develop a state of mind that allows them to understand the social and cultural contexts more deeply in regard to their own individuality
  • Create more time to choose actions more thoughtfully within these contexts.

I’ve studied sociology for many years, and have practiced mindfulness and mediation these past couple of years; the combination of which, have created a deeper understanding for me of my position within the social order, and of the benefit of having more time to think and choose my next actions more thoughtfully.

When we have the time we need to choose our actions more thoughtfully, and are armed with more knowledge about the society in which we live, we create new possibilities for ourselves and all of those around us.

References

Lexico. (2020). Lexico, Powered by Oxford. URL.

Mills, C W. “The Promise [of Sociology]” Excerpt from The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959. URL.

W.W. Norton and Company Inc. (2014). Sociology and Mindfulness Meditation. URL.

Huesken, Aaron. (2019). Mindfulness, Self, and Society: Toward a Sociological Critique of Mindfulness Based Interventions. Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. April 2019. URL.

#mindfulness, #social-and-cultural-order, #sociology, #the-sociological-imagination, #thoughtful-choices

Handwritten Letters and Life Skills: Keeping Simplicity Alive for Future Generations

Photo by Green Chameleon

Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, and the associated shelter-in-place order was established here locally, I’ve been receiving handwritten letters from my niece and nephew.

When my sister told me that the twins were tasked with creating and sending out handwritten letters, I thought, oh joy! What a great way for two 10 year olds to spend parts of their day. With all the current technological distractions, these letters seemed like such a great idea, a break for them, and ultimately, a gift for me.

At the time, what I didn’t consider was how much I would enjoy receiving and reading them. Nor could I have imagined how much fun it would turn out to be to write them back.

I am old enough to have lived during a time when in-home computers were just gaining traction. At that time, handwritten (or typed) letters, like landline phones, were a part of people’s everyday experience. Not the case today.

It got me thinking about life skills, and how important it is for children and youth to have the opportunity to develop skills, even when, maybe especially when, these skills are not as sought after today. It is important for many reasons, one of which is the necessity to keep these skills alive for future generations. Why?

Because there is an elegance to the written word, like there is in understanding how to balance a checkbook, or creating a meal that doesn’t include “food” from a box. And, it is our job to teach children and youth these skills.

There are a myriad of these life skills that, due to technological advancements, are not as utilized today. In fact, some are out right not taught in schools, or in homes across the country. Why?

Some of the lack of education in life skills has to do with the way K-12 education functions today. Some of it has to do with the fact that people are busy, and don’t always spend the time necessary with their children teaching them these skills, especially as they enter their teenage years. Or, they think they’ll pick them up along the way.

As a parent, I have also fallen into the trap of being busy and assuming that the kids would pick up this or that skill along the way. Yet, what I have learned is that they will not always pick them up. We must teach them these skills.

Though the life skills referred to in this post are quite simple, we make them seem complex, as today there is an easier way to get to the outcome, or result. For instance, it is much easier to look up a word on an online thesaurus, or dictionary website, than it is to use an actual thesaurus or dictionary. Do we assume then that children and youth will simply know how to find, let alone utilize a thesaurus and or dictionary? We should assume not.

We often make the simple complex. It is a pattern most humans have, and one that I’ve referenced in several other posts. It is often harder to find the simpler path, yet strive for it we should. Because we can make something complex, does not mean it should be complex. In fact, it really means that it should be simple.

If making things simpler is something we should strive for, then teaching children and youth basic life skills, which are not as in fashion today should be a goal of every parent and or caretaker. Why?

Because if we don’t teach them these skills, who else will?

#generations, #life-skills, #psychology, #self-development, #simplicity, #sociology, #youth-development