I’ve been curious about wisdom lately.
What is Wisdom?
We all want it. We all admire and respect it. We also know it when we see it. If someone gives you advice, you know right away whether or not it’s something that would allow you to advance to a new level of wisdom.
But what is wisdom, and how do we get it?
Contemporary Understanding of Wisdom
Nowadays, Webster defines wisdom as (2016):
- The ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: INSIGHT
- Generally accepted belief (Like saying “The wisdom of the ancients says that…”
- Accumulated philosophical or scientific learning: KNOWLEDGE
- A wise attitude, belief, or course of action
- The teachings of the ancient wise men
What is Wisdom?
If we are going to go by the definition, that means we can talk about wisdom in terms of insight, forming ideas about things, knowledge, wise actions, and a study of people who are smarter than we are.
Oh Boy Do We Ever Need Wisdom Today
Why do we need to study wisdom, now more than ever?
-If you are studying wisdom, by definition you are forming your own ideas. Quick, take stock for a second: Are you forming your own ideas about politics, or are you getting your information from Instagram or Facebook or other social media? I’m not saying they’re wrong, only that if we want to be wise, we’ve got to be responsible for our own ideas.
-If you are studying wisdom, by definition you are also accumulating knowledge. Maybe this means getting a formal education. Maybe this means studying a trade–a very honorable path (that we need more folks to get skills in, desperately!). Maybe this means visiting an elderly home and being open to what they have to share (wisdom of the elders, right?). If we want to be wise, we must be constantly in search of new ideas.
-If you are studying wisdom, by definition you are also making discerning moves to take wise actions. Think about it: what patterns of thought are you keeping in your life that do not serve you? Are you promiscuous? Are you remaining friends with people who get you into bad situations? Are you holding on to excuses or self-sabotaging behavior? Now, you are still loved–if you’re doing any of these things, they don’t make you evil, and they don’t make YOU “bad.” But they also are never going to make you wise.
I’m gonna really drive that:
These actions are never going to be the actions that lead you to wisdom.
The Worst You Could Do
Based on this, the absolute worst thing you could do would be to assume that you are one of the ancients, one of the respected elderly who have done and seen and learned. The worst thing you could do would be to think that there’s nothing more you need to explore, or to tell yourself that you “don’t like reading.” SIDE NOTE: No one hates reading, really. There are people who may not be very good at it, but no one actually hates language–our modern brains evolved to LOVE and develop language, including written. It’s a part of how we’re made).
What would it look like if you were unwise?
Well, I think you’d look/act/smell/sound like a downright SNOB.
Yeah. Being a snob is probably the WORST thing you could do, if you were to acquire any wisdom.
So How Did You Do?
How’d you measure up in regards to your own wisdom seeking in your life? I know how I did, and let me tell you….I’ve got some good things to get to work on, pronto. And you know what? I’m looking forward to it. Mostly.
Here are some links to stuff that can help you get started on your path to wisdom. These are things I have perused or read myself, and I am including them as affiliate links. You should know that if you do happen to purchase any of these things, Amazon will send me a few cents from that sale, so I can keep writing blog posts. Thanks for your support!
THE RELIGIONS BOOK: Here are some ideas about where people around the world are going to encounter wisdom and draw their own wisdom experience from it.
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: Here’s where I go to a lot to draw wisdom from, especially nowadays when there are more people claiming to know what I believe better than I would (I mean, honestly.).
GREAT BOOKS OF THE WESTERN WORLD: Don’t let the sticker shock get you on these. Let me tell you something: if you were to read these books well, each and every one, there would be no forum you couldn’t enter, no academic gate you couldn’t open, no person you couldn’t strike up an interesting debate with. There would be no door that could hold you back, no culture you couldn’t truly appreciate for what it is. That’s what education is SUPPOSED to give you. So, you could spend $40k on a 4-year degree, or you could spend a fraction of that on actually getting an education. A real one. And yes, I have gotten a chance to look at these books, and I swear they saved my life in a time when I was destined for nothing but changing garbage cans on nightshifts and going home to an abusive relationship. I can’t stress how wonderful and necessary books like this are.
Mirriam-Webster, Incorporated. (2019). “Wisdom.” Retrieved from: mirriam-webster.com