Are You Wise?
Posted by Gail | Filed under Life Lessons
Are you good at taking stock of life – big-picture life – and making sense of it for yourself and for others? If you are you’d be considered “wise.” Wisdom is the product of both knowledge and experience. So it’s not just the book-learnin’, it’s the ability to take what you know and use it to increase the quality of your – and perhaps another’s – life.
Wisdom often involves:
- Perspicacity: seeing things clearly and anticipating potential problems so you can avoid them
- Prudence: acting in effective ways, achieving your goals
- Peace of mind: being able to handle whatever arises with a holistic response that’s emotionally stable and compassionate.
Wisdom is often associated with those who are spiritually advanced: Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed The Prophet and Lao-tzu. But wisdom isn’t religious doctrine, nor is custom. The rules associated with religion were created before there was common law, but they were made by men, some of whom were not the wisest. And as for culture… well…
Wisdom is sometimes associated with leaders: Roosevelt, Churchill, Aristotle and Plato. We study wisdom – philosophy is the “love of wisdom” — to try and understand it. And we study how the wise have lived to mimic or imitate in the hope of achieving wisdom. But emulation doesn’t make for wisdom. True wisdom comes through a personal journey.
According to Confucius, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
It would seem that experiencing stressful life events help you to grow in wisdom. Damn! So too can implementing major changes in your love-life and career, particularly in your thirties. That explains so much!
So why the quest for wisdom? Well, it seems that wisdom is a positive predictor of successful aging. Older people who are “wise” also experience higher levels of well-being, more so than they do from things like their physical condition or even their financial stability.
If you’re seeking wisdom, consider the profound words of this ancient Sanskrit poem:
Look to this day, for it is life!
The very life of Life.
In its brief course lie
all the realities and truths of existence:
the joy of growth,
the splendor of action,
the glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
but today well lived
makes every yesterday
a memory of happiness
and every tomorrow
a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!”