We recognize the people who have it, and we recognize those who need it. So how can you get more?
Before we get into six lessons of wisdom, let’s define what we’re talking about.
What is Wisdom?
Some define being wise as the practice of reason and common sense. Still, others argue it has more to do with our connection to intuition, or that it is the quality of decision-making? Perhaps its finely tuned observational skills? Another option is that wisdom is the ability to assess data and circumstances and as a result draw sound conclusions? It’s more likely a mixture of all the above plus knowledge, perceptive ability, and judgment.
Maybe this isn’t the right question, perhaps there are unique kinds of wisdom? In that case, wisdom is situational, maybe even temporary. Our training and education impact situational awareness.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ― Aristotle
Is this the key to knowing what mental skills to use, it this how to increase your wisdom? Are there situations where intuition is a better option than reason, common sense, or observational skills? If that is true, then it is a combination of things. It’s enlightened judgment plus the uncanny ability to understand the underlying root cause.
No matter how you define this quality, we value the people who show it in their words and actions. So, it’s only natural to ask, what is wisdom and how do we become wise? Is this a skill set anyone can gain, or are there restrictions on gaining it like IQ, for instance?
One thing is for sure, wisdom can be illusive and gaining it doesn’t come easily for most of us. Living a long life doesn’t make you wise. However, living longer increases the probability of gathering knowledge or experience which could make you wise. If you are young, it doesn’t mean you can’t be wise. People can show wisdom at any age.
Wisdom Gained By Common Sense
Some people are just lucky. They are born with enhanced analytical and cognitive abilities. They seem to understand the root cause and then find practical solutions. And they are the ones who come up with fresh ideas. But this doesn’t mean they have social skills in the same proportion. So, just because they aren’t assertive or well-known doesn’t mean they don’t have this quality.
People from all personalities and backgrounds show reason and common sense in their daily lives. However, even those with these natural abilities are more likely to do things to enhance their observational skills.
If others in your family are wise, this is no guarantee you’ll inherit this attribute. What’s more, you cannot buy it. Similarly, suffering and pain do not always produce wisdom. Making a lot of mistakes does not make you wise. We observe people repeating the same experiences and making the same mistakes repeatedly.
Is Wisdom Different from Intuition?
Intuition is the ability to know something without the use of a rational thought process. The answer or solution magically appears in our awareness. It’s an instinctive hunch. If the answer or solution is correct, perhaps this also the exercise of wisdom? So, getting in touch with the voice of our intuition is probably an excellent idea. Does this oppose the analytical approach?
You could say that reason and common sense complement intuition. If you get confirmation of your answer by both methods, you are probably on track. So, if your intuition confirms what your observational skills tell you, then again you probably have the best answer. So, they are not opposing forces. They all work together. These mental approaches are all part of the mental toolbox. If we are wise, we will cultivate them all. Thus, we will enhance our overall problem-solving abilities.
Those we recognize as being wise have the full package. They show a high level of intuition, common sense and reasoning, and possess good observational skills. These types of people seem one step ahead of everyone else. So analytical skills and intuition go hand in hand, the Dalai Lama is someone who exemplifies this kind of extraordinary wisdom.
The Six Lessons of Wisdom
We can gain wisdom in two basic ways. We learn from experience, or we do things that increase your bandwidth of our awareness. Let’s talk about experience first.
One way to become wise is to learn from the mistakes of others. If you are aware and perceptive, you see and understand your lessons and the lessons of others. To do this, you need good observational skills. Otherwise, you’ll miss the lesson.
Wisdom Gained By Experience
Some people think experience is the only way to gain wisdom, but this true only if you can learn the proper lesson. Experience is the hardest way, but sometimes it’s the only way you get the message of the important life lesson. Some people keep repeating the same bad experiences, they don’t get the lesson.
It’s practical to find what wisdom means to you. To do this, we recommend a simple exercise known as automatic writing. Here’s a link to describe the process. To do this, set the intention with the question, what is wisdom, then find out what your intuition tells you. It is often a surprise to find how your intuitive mind can offer. You’ll find out how much wisdom is available and how to cultivate it.
Here’s another opinion. Confucius says, thinking is the noblest option. So, you can increase your wisdom through thinking and contemplating. Then the second option is by following the example of others. You just have to be careful not to follow the wrong examples. Otherwise, you will end up gaining this knowledge through unpleasant experiences.
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. — Confucius
Actions To Increase Your Wisdom
Working on yourself is probably the best way to gain wisdom. It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. However, it will make sure you capitalize on the lesson. The best approach to self-development is diverse. It should include a range of activities to improve your mind, body, and spirit.
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
1st Read to Increase Your Awareness
Don’t just read to reinforce what you believe, read things that challenge your thinking. When you do this always check the validity and accuracy of the source. Learning things that are incorrect is a waste.
The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
— Mark Twain
2nd Challenge Your Beliefs
Look for resources that challenge your worldview. Above all, develop your own spiritual path. Practice those things which expand your awareness. Focus on forms of seated and moving meditation. Use the Enneagram of Personality to find out about the default settings of your personality and instincts. Aristotle says the lessons of wisdom begin with knowing yourself.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. — Aristotle
3rd Enhance Your Critical Thinking
As we mentioned above, enhance the core skills of the mind. Develop your observational skills and memory. Learn healthy coping skills to handle the stress of daily living.
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
— William Shakespeare (As You Like It)
4th Practice Kindness
Practice being a good person. Your wisdom is increased by opening your heart to the needs of others. Crazy as it sounds, this will help put you back in touch with your default state of innocence. This is our natural state before exposure to any cultural programming. Be brave. Fight for the rights of everyone. Fight to save our environment, it’s the only place in the Universe with chocolate. Live with courage but with risk management restraint. Life is a long-distance event.
Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others. — Brian Tracy
5th Take Care of Yourself
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. — Audre Lorde
6th Listen to Your Intuition
Last, practice activities that help you hear the voice of your intuition.
How Do You Become Wise?
Now you know the ways you can increase your wisdom. The hard part is putting these lessons to use in your life. One simple thing you can do is put sticky notes about wisdom where you can see them. Use your smartphone reminder to help you remember to do one of the wisdom action items. Put sticky notes on your refrigerator door, in the corner of your computer screen. Do at least one of the six lessons of wisdom every day. This will create good habits that will return dividends.
Remember, wisdom is a combination of skills and mental abilities that produce quality decisions. What works best for you is likely a unique combination of things such as observational skills, reason, common sense, and intuition.
It is possible to learn and gain this knowledge and ability by cultivating both analytical and intuitive skills. Therefore, you can learn to do it too. The person who is wise will find what works best and then practice.
Learn how to build positive behaviors. Discover your strengths and limitations. Work to fill the gaps in your analytical and intuitive abilities. You gain more wisdom by constantly learning and refining working on yourself. Develop sound observation skills, common sense, and logic.
We hope you found this article helpful, maybe even thought-provoking. You will find more interesting posts on our blog page. Use the search option on the blog page to find articles by key terms, topics, or category.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia