Have you ever wondered about the true meaning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding? We recognize people with these qualities and those who could use more of them. Learn how you can increase these valuable life assets.
What exactly are the tangible benefits of wisdom and understanding? How do we become wiser and more prudent? Is wisdom gained by experience better than others? A good way to answer these questions is by defining what these words mean.
Knowledge Wisdom Understanding
If you want to get more of something, it helps to define exactly what it is. That way, you know what to look for and how to find it.
To understand is to grasp the meaning of something. It is the ability to grasp abstract concepts. And it also includes the ability to see connections that are not immediately obvious.
Knowledge is the facts and information about a subject. Knowledge runs on a continuum from useful to useless. Knowing a lot about something useless is a waste of mental energy. Knowing a lot about something useful is valuable. Valuable knowledge can make you wise. Many people define wisdom and knowledge as true wealth.
Wisdom isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It is the quality of being wise. Some see this as the ability to use knowledge and understanding. Some define wisdom as exercising common sense, rational thinking, and logic.
Still, others argue it has more to do with our connection to intuition. Some are born with it; others acquire it. We observe that it can increase with experience. Could wisdom be the quality of decision-making? Or, perhaps it is finely tuned observational skills? Or maybe it’s a mixture of all the above examples. (1)
Awareness is the wildcard in this formula. We haven’t mentioned this yet, but it impacts the others. Awareness is the bandwidth or quality of perception. Awareness is the doorway to higher states of consciousness. We’ll discuss how this fits into the formula of self-development a little later on.
Knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and awareness are the keys to joy and fulfillment. Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are often used interchangeably but have distinct qualities. So, we have a workable definition. Wisdom is the awareness, understanding, and knowledge to make sound decisions.
If others in your family are wise, there is no guarantee you’ll inherit this attribute. One thing is for sure: you cannot buy it. Similarly, suffering and pain do not always produce wisdom. How Do You Define Wisdom and Knowledge?
Is Wisdom Different from Intuition?
Intuition is the ability to know something without using a rational thought process. The answer or solution magically appears in our awareness. It’s an intuitive hunch. If the answer or solution is correct, perhaps this also demonstrates 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. You will be on track if you confirm your answer by both methods. So, if intuition confirms what you observe, you likely have the best solution. So, they are not opposing forces; they all work together. This approach is part of the cognitive toolbox we recommend for everyone. If you are wise, you will cultivate them all. Thus, you will enhance our problem-solving abilities.
Those we recognize as being wise have the whole package. Smart people demonstrate intuition, common sense, and observational skills. These types of people seem one step ahead of everyone else. Analytical skills and intuition go hand in hand. The Dalai Lama exemplifies this level of extraordinary wisdom.
Exercise To Define Wisdom and Knowledge Part One
To plot your path to developing wisdom, you need a starting point. The first step is to write your current definition of wisdom and knowledge. Don’t use the textbook provided above. Ask yourself these questions: 1) What does wisdom mean to me? 2) What does knowledge mean to me? Also, write down the name of at least one person you believe is a role model for showcasing wisdom.
This discussion is the beginning of a life-long exercise. It will help you discover things about yourself to assist in your self-development. These discoveries will help you increase the bandwidth of awareness. They will assist in developing knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Most can redefine wisdom and a path to get there by the end of this article. So, if you want good results, take a few minutes to write your current definition and someone you think is wise.
One method we recommend to help you define wisdom is a process known as automatic writing. Here’s a link to describe the process. To do this, you get a pen and paper, then set the intention with the question, What is wisdom? Start writing without thinking about it, and discover what your intuition tells you. It is often a surprise to find what your intuitive mind can offer. You’ll discover how much wisdom is available and how to cultivate it.
Now, let’s discuss the ways these qualities affect our lives.
The Benefits of Wisdom and Understanding
By exploring the advantages of gaining wisdom, we can understand how we can learn how to gain more of it. Let’s take a look at the benefits these qualities provide.
We increase self-awareness and self-reflection as we gain wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We are empowered to make informed decisions and choices. We reach a higher level of problem-solving abilities and increase critical thinking skills. This package of mental capabilities helps us reach our full potential.
Success depends on learning and expanding your knowledge base and expertise. Wisdom gives us confidence in decision-making and tackling challenging situations. People with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are more likely to reach their career goals.
One of the advantages of gaining wisdom is that it also increases empathy. Empathy opens the door to vulnerability and the expression of compassion. The opening of our hearts is one of the benefits of wisdom and understanding. This makes us more effective communicators. These skills help us resolve conflicts, which improves our relationships. When you can solve problems, you build trust and foster stronger connections.
Another one of the advantages of gaining wisdom is an increase in our well-being. A diverse perspective helps us in dealing with life’s challenges. Emotional well-being increases our ability and resilience to adapt to change. A stable emotional equilibrium Increases inner peace and fulfillment.
Positive Contribution to Society
You make a positive impact when you share wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Wise people engage in lifelong activism to make the world better. They are always learning and conscious about being a positive role model. People with wisdom cultivate a more compassionate and enlightened society.
The benefits of wisdom and understanding affect our spiritual essence. The increase in the bandwidth of awareness enables greater opportunities for spiritual exploration. Seeking and reaching higher states of consciousness is easier. Wisdom is essential to help us avoid false teachers and information.
Summary of the Advantages of Gaining Wisdom
The range of benefits for increasing wisdom makes it an attractive prize. They affect every aspect of life. Later, we’ll show you how to use what you learn to create your definition of wisdom.
Practical Strategies For Acquiring Wisdom
Some people are lucky. They are born with the ability to find the root cause of problems and develop practical solutions. And they are the ones who come up with fresh ideas. Still, this doesn’t mean they have social skills in the same proportion.
Many people simply haven’t tapped into their wisdom. Does this sound like you? You may be one of those who needs to learn how to access and grow these gifts and qualities. (2)
Now that you know the benefits of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, you are ready to explore the practical ways to increase them. If you don’t have wisdom, you can gain it in two primary ways: life experience and observation. Let’s talk about wisdom that comes from life experiences.
1. Wisdom Gained By Experience
The first way most people gain wisdom is through personal experience. In other words, they learn by experiencing the effects of making poor decisions. Some people think this is the only way to gain wisdom. However, this is true only if you can learn the proper lesson. Experience is the most painful way to learn, but sometimes, it’s the only way you get the message.
Just because you make a lot of mistakes does not mean you will be wise. We observe people repeating the same experiences and making the same mistakes repeatedly. People repeat the same bad experiences but still don’t get the lesson. (3)
Still, knowledge gained through personal experiences carries an unmatched power. It often forces us to deal with flawed thinking. It’s an opportunity to embrace new challenges, step outside your comfort zone, and learn from successes and failures. Each interaction and trial brings unique opportunities to gain wisdom. Greater wisdom allows you to connect the dots in your pursuit of understanding.
Wisdom gained by experience is the most prevalent way people learn life’s lessons. Learning how to gain wisdom and understanding with this method is the most costly.
Observing others is another less painful way to increase your wisdom. The advantages of gaining wisdom in this way are obvious. It requires awareness to spot these opportunities to learn from others. Sometimes, it just takes asking, Hey, how did you get where you are? How did you do that?
We must learn to be mindful and truly observe the world around us. Learn to be present and engage all your senses. Live fully present and in the moment. Be curious about the small details. Seek out the narratives unfolding beneath the surface and the interconnectedness of everything. Remember, wisdom often lies in the subtleties that can be missed if we are not paying attention.
3. Practice Self-reflection and Introspection
Turn the lens of observation inward, and you have self-observation. This is an age-old method of contemplation. It’s one of the strategies for acquiring wisdom that you can do anything you have a few moments. Instead of playing a game on your mobile device, sit quietly and turn your awareness inward.
Take time for introspection and self-analysis. Assess your thoughts and actions regularly. Reflecting on past experiences allows you to identify thinking patterns, biases, and prejudice. These are areas for improvement.
Genuine understanding stems from knowing oneself deeply. This perspective aids in recognizing one’s strengths, weaknesses, and values. Confucius says self-reflection is the first way to gain wisdom. So you can increase your wisdom through thinking and contemplating.
“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
A good tool to assist with this is the Enneagram. There are several good books on the Enneagram that will help you understand your thought patterns, likes, and dislikes. Reading about your personality type and instinctual drivers gives you perspective. It helps you understand what is important. Contemplation is an art form we have ignored in our modern culture. But this simple process is the key to maintaining a connection with your intuition.
4. Practice Meditation
Meditation is the key element in daily practice. It connects us to a higher source of knowledge, unraveling the layers of illusion that cloud our minds. Meditation illuminates our path to true wisdom. Meditating guides us toward personal growth and a profound connection to the universe.
Proper meditation is any technique that allows the mind to shift to other states of awareness and consciousness. We recommend learning a progression of mediation techniques. In this way, you can use some form of meditation every day.
The simple two-step beginning meditation process is something a five-year-old child can learn. This simple process is the foundation of seated and moving forms of mindfulness meditation. These tools are used in techniques like forest bathing and tree grounding.
The cornerstone seated meditation technique is Japa Meditation or Transcendental meditation. This technique is the gateway to higher states of consciousness. Japa meditation is the method that gives the grounding necessary for methods like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Meditation encourages the mind to be quiet and calm. As we delve deeper into a state of meditation, we learn to detach from the constant stream of thoughts that flood our consciousness. We create the perfect environment for wisdom to bloom by embracing this stillness. With a quiet mind, we become open to new insights and alternative perspectives. It connects us with our intuition and the thread of consciousness that connects us to the universe.
5. Following the Example of Others
Confucius said the second way to gain wisdom is through limitation. This means accepting and following the actions of others who are role models. Who we choose to follow or imitate is an important tool in advertising. Advertising uses celebrities to promote their products because we want to be like those we imitate.
We use them as templates to shape our lives when we imitate or mimic something or someone. Mentors are invaluable sources of wisdom and knowledge. Look for individuals who have achieved personal or professional success in your field of interest.
A good teacher can provide invaluable advice, support, and direction, accelerating your growth. However, it’s important to research the background of a person or organization before you decide to follow their example.
Selecting the wrong teacher or mentor can be disastrous. History is full of con men or women who led others to harmful results. People like the pastor Jim Jones come to mind. Another example of a con man who has reaped destruction is Donald Trump.
6. Enhance Your Critical Thinking
Enhancing your critical thinking skills is paramount. Rational thinking and logic are the basis of a healthy mind. They increase awareness, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. They help you determine fact from fiction. These tools are an inoculation against the propaganda that is so prevalent in our culture.
Yes, it takes a little work but it is worth the effort. We’ve distilled the core critical thinking skills into three articles on our website.
You can use them with almost every type of social media, from the internet to TV. These tools are beneficial for news and religious programming.
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
— William Shakespeare (As You Like It)
7. Read for Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, and Awareness
Books are timeless vessels of knowledge and wisdom. Dive into various genres, explore different cultures, and delve into subjects you may not have considered before. Engaging with literature opens doors to new perspectives and expands your mental horizons. Make reading a habit, setting aside dedicated time each day to absorb wisdom from the greatest minds throughout history.
Read ancient sources of knowledge. Vedic Wisdom is a rich source of wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita is another excellent source of philosophical insight and knowledge. In contrast, the knowledge contained in Western theology is a copy of earlier texts from the mystery cults of the Medditraian region. These religions developed in Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, and Persia. We suggest you seek these original sources rather than those copied in the Bible.
Reading increases awareness, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. There’s nothing wrong with reading mythology and superstition of religion. Please don’t mistake myths for facts.
Read to expand your awareness. Don’t just read to reinforce what you believe. Read things that challenge your thinking. Whatever you read, always check the validity and accuracy of the source. Learning things that are incorrect or useless is a waste.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
— Mark Twain
8. Actively Cultivate Compassion and Empathy
Wisdom flourishes when we extend our consciousness beyond our own needs and desires. Here is a practical way to expand awareness. Through meditation, we develop a profound sense of empathy and compassion. As we become more attuned to the suffering of others, our capacity for understanding expands. Our decision-making expands. This true emotional intelligence is born from meditation. This level of emotional sensitivity allows us to connect with others. It is a mindset that helps us navigate complex social situations with grace and wisdom.
Compassion and empathy help us see the big picture. When we see the needs of disenfranchised people, it should strike a chord in our hearts. It is the same when we see people misusing the environment. Find a cause that means something to you, and find out how to help. You don’t need to become a full-time activist to make a difference.
Exercise To Define Wisdom and Knowledge Part Two
Turn the paper over, which contains your original personal definition of wisdom. Write it again with fresh eyes in the form of a personal goal. For example, you might say I want to have the wisdom and courage that I see in the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Take your time to craft this definition. Now, wisdom can become more than an abstract idea. It can become a goal or mission statement. When you can define wisdom and knowledge personally, it becomes a goal you can reach.
Summary of Awareness, Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding
You have read about wisdom and its relationship to intuition and awareness. The benefits of acquiring wisdom are substantial and worth the effort. The strategies for acquiring wisdom are things you can do by yourself, with a partner, or in a group.
There are several things we can do every day to further our development. By embracing meditation, practicing observation, and reading, we set the foundation for success. Practicing self-reflection and engaging in meaningful conversations gives us perspective. The right teachers give us the tools and guidance to overcome any roadblocks.
Gaining awareness, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding is a journey. It requires effort, dedication, and an open mind. You will see the benefits of wisdom and understanding once you start on this path.
Remember, every step forward leads us closer to reaching our full potential. We gain a more profound understanding of the world. So, let’s embark on this wonderful adventure!
(1) The New Science of Practical Wisdom. The National Library of Medicine
(2) Common sense. Folk wisdom that ethnobiological and ethnomedical research cannot afford to ignore. The National Library of Medicine
(3) Hard-earned wisdom. Exploratory processing of difficult life experiences is positively associated with wisdom. The National Library of Medicine