We recognize the people who have it. And we recognize those who need it. How can you get more?
What is Wisdom?
Some define it’s the practice of reason and common sense. Still, others argue that it has more to do with our connection to intuition. Or, that it is the quality of our decision-making? Perhaps its finely tuned observational skills? Is it the ability to assess data and circumstances and as a result draw sound conclusions? Or, is it more likely a mixture of knowledge, perceptive ability, and judgment?
Maybe this isn’t the right question. Perhaps there are unique kinds of this cognitive ability? In that case, it is situational. Our training and education impact situational awareness. So, there are specific types for specific situations?
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ― Aristotle
Is this the key to knowing what mental skills to use? 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 you 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, it doesn’t come easily. Living a long life doesn’t make you wise. But, living longer increases the probability of gathering knowledge or experience which might make you wise. If you are young, it doesn’t mean you can’t be wise. People can show wisdom at any age.
Reason and 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. And, 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 bad experiences and making the same mistakes repeatedly.
Does Being Wise, Differ 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 for instance.
How Do You Become Wise?
What are the ways we can become wise?
One of the least painful ways is to learn from the mistakes of others. As mentioned above, to do this you need to enhance your observational skills. Otherwise, you’ll miss the lesson in these events.
Some people think experience alone is a person wise. But, this true only if you learn from the lessons from the experience. Experience is often 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.
It’s practical to find what it means to you. Do 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 will surprise you. You’ll find out how much you may have or where your gaps are.
Here’s another opinion. Confucius says, pausing to think is the noblest option. Then second is by following the example of others. You just have to be careful not to follow the wrong example. Otherwise, you will end up gaining this knowledge through a bad experience.
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.
On the other hand, working on yourself is probably the best way. 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
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.
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.
4th Practice Kindness
Practice being a good person. 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. After all, it’s the only place in the Universe with chocolate. Live with courage but with risk management restraint. Life is a long-distance event.
5th Take Care of Yourself
6th Listen to Your Intuition
Last, practice activities that help you to hear the voice of your intuition.
Does this sound like you? If not, don’t worry. You can get there. Put it on your “to-do” list. Learn how to build positive behaviors. How do you become wise? By discovering your limitations and working 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.
One need not stick their hand in the fire to know that fire burns. However, if you have scars from being burned, you can certainly speak from practical experience. Learn about fire and its effects before you use it so you can apply this knowledge. Be smart and be wise.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia