Wisdom and personal development go hand in hand in our culture and in cultures around the world. But outside of reading countless self-help books – how do we actually become wiser?
Some say with age. Some say wisdom is gained from life experiences. I tend to think this is pretty on the money. And I’d add to the idea that you gain wisdom from experiences, that wisdom can be more deeply-accumulated the more you fully commit yourself to the experience.
Experience alone does not make you a more wise person. It’s taking what you learn from your own life experiences and applying what you’ve learned to the next experience and the next experience (rinse, wash, repeat).
I’ve always wondered if all cultures around the world value wisdom for the same reasons? Or if we in America have a different concept of wisdom. As a society we certainly value education, of all kinds, learning and accumulating knowledge. But none of those things guarantees you’ll be wiser. Just more book-smart – with a head full of information. Wisdom, on the other hand, seems more internal. As if it resides in the heart.
The truth is that wisdom is inherently complex and personal. There isn’t a prescription or a special diet that teaches you how to live a more full and enriched life. All perspectives of wisdom are valuable. And ultimately lead to the same thing – acquiring self-knowledge through experiences (and hopefully using that knowledge to enrich our lives and maybe even the lives of others).
There are many different interpretations of wisdom: collective wisdom, moral wisdom, psychological wisdom, personal wisdom, spiritual wisdom. All of them are fundamental and important. They help inform and nourish our natural capacity to reflect, create, and problem solve. They help us to sustain our own lives in an often complex world. With wisdom one gains insight into the human condition and maybe even glimpses at the meaning of life. And who doesn’t want that?
So, if you want to create more opportunities for wisdom (if you want to be a wise one), it really comes down to saying yes. To taking more chances, doing things you are afraid of, and committing to an overall theme of following through and getting out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few tips for ways to amp up your experiences for gaining the maximum amount of wisdom:
- Practice radical honesty with yourself and those around you. Say how you feel and what’s on your mind. Commit to what you feel. Speak it. Own it.
- Do something you’ve never done before. Go up to that person at a coffee shop or bar that made you blush. Tell them you find them interesting. Why not? For example, I gave a boy my number at a restaurant recently. I was TERRIFIED. In fact, I almost didn’t do it. I turned bright red, I stumbled over my words – and at the end of the day, I felt a little bit stronger – a little more confident at the prospect of maybe even doing it again in the future.
- Say yes. A lot! Try saying yes for a whole month. Shoot for yes, don’t shoot for “maybe.”
- Commit to always learning. Take a class in something you are curious about. Try a new-to-you dance class. Or learn to paint. Walk through life with a beginner’s mind and your wisdom will grow.
- Embrace the solo date. Go to a museum or see a movie. Have a meal by yourself at a restaurant and try not to look at your phone. Instead, sit at the bar, talk to strangers, and tell stories. This is one of my favorite things to do! You never know what amazing life lessons you’ll learn from a stranger.
- Give yourself time alone to soak it all in. We’re all guilty of info overload in today’s digital age. It’s important to have mental white space (often) in order to soak in all the wisdom you already possess. Schedule time each week for a whole lot of nothing. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll gain from this one small act.
- Challenge the status quo and deliver with purpose. Your wisdom isn’t everyone’s wisdom. Which means that the way things are done or have been done or “should” be done, may not be for you. That’s ok (more than ok). Do things your way. There’s much to be learned from forging your own path. But no matter what, always deliver with purpose – do what you say you will do and have integrity.
What is your experience with cultivating more wisdom? Do you consciously do this or make time for this in your life? What are some experiences you think help us become wise ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the conversation below!