lessons of wisdom 12 stepping stones of life

12 Stepping Stones of Life — The Lessons of Wisdom

Developing wisdom is the way to create lasting value in one’s life. Many believe we find it by understanding these 12 essential stepping stones.

What is Wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to make the best decisions and do the right things. It is not the memorization of religious, analytical, or philosophical concepts. It’s about learning what life can teach.

Your ability to learn depends upon your level of awareness. Some of these strategies or experiences will not make sense unless you expand your awareness level.

Your awareness must grow in order to benefit fully from these gems of wisdom. Perhaps the ones that don’t immediately resonate with you are the ones you need the most, so don’t overlook any of these points. You may even realize you’ve missed the opportunity to learn some of these.

Lessons of Wisdom: the 12 Stepping Stones in Life

We all start in different places. Everyone makes mistakes and misses opportunities to learn and grow, and this, too, is a part of our learning process. Keep doing the right things, and you will progress and help others along the way. Copy the link to this article to your favorites, and share it with others.

This list contains a range of activities involving inner work, development tools, and practical organization. Applying these tools will make a difference in your life.

1. Learning to Observe Your Thoughts

If you are always looking for purple cars, you will spot them everywhere. Similarly, you will find opportunities for growth and development if you are looking for them. You’ll be angry with life if you are continually seeking life’s irritations and frustrations. So, ask yourself what are you looking for, what do you expect to find?

It’s crucial to learn how to observe and direct your thought life. It’s one of the 12 stepping stones of life. Life will be harder if you don’t know how to do this because you will be more likely to slip into harmful thought patterns. So, if you don’t observe your thoughts, you end up making mistakes, and you’ll miss all the beauty and opportunities that exist. Here’s an important tip. If you don’t learn to do this, you’ll have difficulty applying the other “lessons of wisdom.”

It’s not as hard as you think it is. You can learn to observe without judgment. This will help you see how your thoughts are forming. That way, you can adjust them to give you a more positive and beneficial outcome. It’s a stepping stone of wisdom because if you can do this, then you can do the following steps.

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

2. Guard Your Health and Wellness

Our ability to experience life depends on our ability to maintain our physical and mental health. We are all unique regarding our health and wellness. Just because you are the perfect picture of health doesn’t mean you aren’t a valuable human being. More and more people are concluding that durability should be the goal, but everyone has a different health and wellness path.

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there, and don’t throw it away.” — Stephen Hawking

So this means engaging in self-care, listening to music, and spending time in meditation. Do things that are good for you, and make sure they don’t hurt anyone or the environment. Learning the value of empathy is one of the primary lessons of wisdom.

3. Walk Your Spiritual Path

The decision to create a spiritual path is perhaps the most crucial in your life. Walking a spiritual path of your design is the opposite of following a religion.

Religion is dogma, which centers on the belief in a supreme being. These systems also include afterlife mythologies and rules for governing behavior. It’s sold to people under the guise of fear of eternal punishment for those who disagree and heaven for believers.

It’s important not to get sidetracked by religion and their imaginary friends and enemies. If you inherited your beliefs as a child, now is the time to change this harmful programming.

Some people would argue that this should be the first stepping stone of life and they place it above self-awareness. The reason is simple: if you get sidetracked before you get started, it can waste a lot of time, even your whole life.

Here’s our advice: use tools that develop your intellectual and spiritual potential. Don’t join a religion or become a follower of anyone or any organization. The methods that can help you walk your spiritual path fall into four categories:

4. Be a Survivor Instead of a Victim

Choosing the role of the survivor is another vital decision, but it requires action and courage to accomplish. You can see life in two ways. If you see it as a victim, the Universe is against you, but if you see it as a survivor, the Universe is on your side. It is easy to slip into the role of the victim because it helps you blame something else for the negative in your life. It’s the difference between life happening for you or to you.

As a victim, you feel entitled to a pity party, and if others don’t join in your pity party, they are against you, too. The victim is always looking for ways to be a victim. It’s a good place to hide. As a victim, you’ll never be a survivor and never the champion.

To move from the victim’s role, you must stop blaming life’s random acts of chaos. To do this, you must learn to course-correct your thought patterns, observe your thoughts, and then redirect your thinking.

For example, if you are driving a car and someone pulls out in front of you, don’t automatically think they are out to get you. Instead, think to yourself, “They must be in a hurry,” or perhaps they are late for work or an important meeting. Don’t take everything that happens as a personal attack. Don’t automatically place ill intent on the actions of others. People do stupid stuff without thinking.

Learn the essential mindfulness meditation practice and use it regularly. It’s like the reset button on your computer, which returns your mindset to a peaceful equilibrium. It will help you see the life changes necessary to transition from victim to survivor. But don’t stop there; learn to thrive.

As a survivor, you’ll find you can handle the unexpected with less emotional turmoil. Life will be easier and less stressful. You’ll enjoy things more, and as your awareness grows, you’ll find opportunities to help others. Hanlon’s Razor is an aphorism that expresses why we should not try to assign motives to the actions of others.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” — Robert J. Hanlon

5. Learn to Give and Share

If you don’t learn to give and share as a child, the world suffers. Realize that we are not always the main characters in this stage of life. It can be a hard lesson, especially if you were the center of attention as a child. Adults with this mindset believe everything and everyone is here to support their leading role.

Eventually, this life lesson will force itself to the surface. Those who can’t or won’t share eventually implode, and it usually isn’t pretty.   Everyone eventually fails at something they hold important. Or, worse yet, when they lose, they blame others or take others down with them. Don’t let this be you. Instead, adopt a beginner’s mindset to promote learning and sharing.

Realize being a good supporting actor is good for you and others in your circle of influence. Let others take the “star” role. Allow your position to change with the ebb and flow of circumstances. Learn to share and give others the center stage. When you do this, you’ll feel joy instead of regret.

Learn that the secret to getting what you seek is to give it away. It sounds weird, but it works. If you need love, give love to others. That’s how to plant seeds, which will lead to a harvest. For example, one of the best ways to deal with loss is to help others through their loss. Do what you can in your sphere of influence. Look at it this way: you can either be a giver or a taker.

Givers are happier than takers. Ask yourself, do you take more than you give? Guess what? As an overall “giver,” you and everyone around you will benefit. As a giver, you’ll begin to enjoy things more and you’ll see opportunities for helping others. Giving is the key to opening your heart to the benefits of vulnerability. It is one of the 12 stepping stones of life that we should learn as early as possible.

“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love, there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.” — John O’Donohue

6. Avoid Tunnel Vision

There are three outlooks on life: pessimistic, optimistic, and realistic, and being locked into any of these will cause tunnel vision—or, more precisely, a lack of proper vision.


A pessimist has blinders that cause them to extrapolate everything, resulting in its worst possible outcomes. Although it’s a good idea to assess the risk of something, if you get caught in the pessimistic spiral, you never see the solutions available. It could even lead to physical and mental health issues like depression. So, learn how to observe your thought life, and the moment you see yourself racing after some apocalypse, stop. Take a deep breath. Find the place of equilibrium.


Being an eternal optimist also presents problems. The optimist ignores the issues or tries to drown out problems by pretending. Thinking happy thoughts isn’t always the way to find a solution to the problem. Sometimes, you need to face the music. Realize that things don’t always work out. Look at things realistically. Life has trials, learn to find the equilibrium.


As a realist, you must find the courage to embrace both optimistic and pessimistic outlooks. Otherwise, you will miss opportunities for success and failure. Learn to maintain equilibrium. It is one of the 12 stepping stones of life that balances your thinking. Write a list of things you are grateful for in your life. Put this list somewhere you can see it. It will help you change the trajectory of your thoughts and emotions. Always ask yourself, what should I be learning?

The ideal goal is to use any one of these three mindsets in the proper place. Even better would be to learn how to combine them. This would be the holistic, well-rounded freethinker that many Sages tell us is the basis of wisdom.

A realist mindset includes the optimist and pessimistic points of view. These opposites help us create a more well-rounded mindset. You’ll enjoy things more and what’s even better, you’ll see opportunities for helping others. All three outlooks have their place. Don’t get stuck in any one perspective. Learn to use all three roles.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

7. Communicate with Honesty

If honest communication is the root of happiness, then poor communication is the root of unhappiness. Cultivate the courage to communicate honestly when possible and practical. You’ll need to discern when it is reasonable and safe to communicate honestly. There are situations where you need to use restraint in communication. However, with your inner circle, you must cultivate the ability to speak plainly.

Communication is tricky, and assuming that what you are saying is always understood the way you intended is a mistake. So, always solicit feedback to ensure that the message’s meaning is understood. Remember, most people aren’t listening to hear but to respond to what you are saying. That means most of their computing power isn’t on receiving your message’s intent. People can’t read your mind or your expectations. You will always be disappointed if people fail to understand your message. See the above point about being the victim.

So, how do you ensure people are hearing your message? There are several techniques for this, including repeating the message, paraphrasing, and asking them to tell you what you told them.

It’s one of those realizations that will take the pressure off. It will make you more comfortable in your relationships. Communicating realistic expectations will reduce your disappointment. Don’t confuse simple choices with bias and prejudice. Learn to spot in yourself and others.

8. Overcome Decision Paralysis

Some believe the Universe must send an omen or sign to confirm every decision leads to decision paralysis. Waiting for a divine sign leads to many disappointments. That’s because the Universe doesn’t care whether you buy broccoli or green beans. They either don’t get the omen or interpret it wrong.

To be sure, synchronicities and omens occur. However, more often than not, life’s decisions are in our hands. How can we gain “lessons of wisdom if we don’t make our own decisions? So, if you don’t get a sign for an important decision. Perhaps it’s a sign the Universe wants you to decide.   The more significant findings, the more experience you gain. Believe it or not, your life is less stressful when you take responsibility for your own choices.

Overcoming “decision paralysis” requires the courage to take calculated risks. However, don’t confuse risky behavior with calculated risks. Learn the difference. We should avoid unnecessary or unreasonable risks. The study of logical reasoning and related tools will help discern the distinction. The stepping stones of logic will make your decisions more accurate.

At our core, we are essentially choice-makers. Deciding and making choices involve risk assessment. Learn how to estimate probabilities from possibilities. Again, the study of logical reasoning is key to this ability. Live boldly, but not stupidly. Remember, you are human, and you will make mistakes. However, learn from your mistakes. Learn the lesson and choose more wisely. It is one of those experiences of life that repeats infinitely.

The benefit here is twofold. If your risk works out, you win. If you lose, you learn a valuable lesson to help you next time.

“Analysis paralysis is an epidemic that cripples countless dreams and great ideas. Be swift, decisive, and always move forward!” — Matthew Loop

9. Avoid Perfectionism and Comparison

Perfection is the holy grail of any master. Those in charge want their servants to strive for perfection. They want us to strive for perfection even though it is impossible to attain because it keeps us focused on the task. The master would have us “believe” we can achieve perfection even though it is unrealistic. So, we compare ourselves to perfection and find we fall short. We are in prison. Comparing our current state to someone or something else drives the cultural narrative of consumerism. It places you in a prison of ever-changing and unrealistic values.

For instance, we see an advertisement that shows the benefits a product can bring. It offers a beautiful person having a beautiful life. And you want this too, but you must buy this product. So, we compare the difference in our situation, and, as a result, they are seduced into buying the product.

Learn to question the cultural narrative. Learn you are already perfect in your state of imperfection. In our consumer-driven culture, this is one thing you’ll need to master. Don’t fall for the seduction of advertising or propaganda. By the way, this tactic isn’t new. Western Organized religion uses it to sell you all manner of things, from an afterlife to your guilty conscience’s cleansing.

The benefit of avoiding comparison is immediate. You’ll find self-acceptance, and you’ll buy less stuff. Instead, you’ll value people more than things.

“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect; you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” — Jodi Picoult

“Comparison is the death of joy.” — Mark Twain

10. Learn the Value of Time

Time is our most valuable possession. When you work for someone, you allow them to purchase your life’s greatest asset. But most people treat their time as something meaningless. We certainly don’t know exactly how much time we have. So, you need to be mindful of its value. You’ll be glad you did.

Treat your time like gold. Guard it closely. The biggest time-waster is most of what is on TV. For example, the news is a thief under the guise of providing helpful information. Instead, it’s mostly propaganda, keeping you a customer to sell advertising. The biggest time thief is religion. It has perfected groupthink manipulation on a massive scale.

Ask yourself whether TV, the news, or religion improves your life. Or does it fuel anger? Cut these out, and you’ll find a new life that is more manageable and less stressful. You’ll enjoy things more, and you’ll find opportunities to help others.

11. Learn to Let Go

Time passes. But that doesn’t stop us from holding onto regrets. It also means we hold on to past pain and trauma. That’s not healthy. Everyone says all you need to do is to forgive. However, they don’t tell you it’s not a one-time thing. Sure, one person or one event often caused the pain. But the act of forgiveness is a continual process to let go of that memory or pain. Learning to let go is another one of the 12 stepping stones of life; eventually, we let go of life.

“There are two great teachers in life, the world, and your heart. There are two great lessons: we live and we die. Above all, there are two great experiences, love, and loss.” — Guru Tua

It’s hard to think of loss as a great experience. Genuine happiness would not be possible without it. It helps us appreciate and savor the things that matter. Working through it and letting things go helps in the process of growth. It’s a perspective you need to learn how to embrace.

They say that the concept of closure applies only to people who have never really suffered. There’s no such thing as forgetting it. Life allows you to understand the lessons of regret and loss.

The same applies to the “things” we accumulate. Don’t let the things you own become the things that hold you. So, learn to de-clutter your life. Don’t fall into the trap of consumerism. Let go of things that simply take up space. There are several resources on this subject. Find one that resonates. There are always opportunities to practice this, so this must be an essential thing to learn. And this applies to friends and especially spiritual relationships and teachers.

12. Thrive Where You Are

To live a fulfilled life, one needs three ingredients. These elements are courage, hope, and vulnerability. When you add these three together, you get fulfillment. Above all, fill your life with hope and allow yourself to become vulnerable. It will open your eyes to social injustice. As a result, it will give your heart direction. You’ll find a place and space in your sphere of influence to contribute. Learn to live a courageous life because courage opens the doors of opportunity.

The more courageous you are, the more you will awaken. As you awaken, your conscience will also grow. Your conscience will show you where you can make a difference. Follow your heart.

Conclusion on the 12 Stepping Stones of Life

If we are present, do you recognize these stepping stones in life? If they seem strange, it means you are asleep. When that is the case, we will often repeat the same situation until we awaken. If the same things keep happening, it’s a sign you need to do some inner work and awaken. So, when something unexpected happens, ask yourself: Does this feel similar? What’s the lesson? What is the wise thing to do?