When my father turned 50, I asked him if he felt any different. Always one for a quick quip, he said, “Of course! Before, I was smart, but now I am wise!” Dad jokes aside, it did get me thinking about the difference between wisdom and intelligence.
We all seem to have a pretty good idea what intelligence is. Book smarts, a high IQ, or the way how some people just seem to “get it” a lot quicker than others are all seen as signs of intelligence. But wisdom is a lot harder to define.
That is because wisdom has achieved an almost mythological status. Many of our oldest stories are about heroes going to the ends of the earth to achieve wisdom, so it really looks as if being wiser is beneficial. It also seems that my old man may have had a point, as wisdom is often associated with traits that we seem to have more of as we age, such as humility, self-awareness, objectivity, and compassion.
Since these qualities seem like something we should all aspire to, I started searching for ways to increase my wisdom without growing a long, grey beard. I started reading about techniques to increase wisdom. As any wise person would tell you, I don’t have all the answers, but I did find the following suggestions helpful in turning me into a more responsible human.
Your actions are not determined by the actions of others. If someone is nasty to you, don’t be nasty back (very difficult) and if you are kind to someone, don’t expect kindness in return. I soon realized that always trying to be the best version of myself no matter what other people do, is its own reward.
Read a good book. One aspect of wisdom is the ability to learn from others. So many valuable insights on the human condition are at your fingertips.
Amra Beganovich, founder of A&E influencer marketing agency, suggests to switch evening Netflix marathons for biography or business books in order to advance your career. She credits her brand to evening reads on marketing she did after work that inspired her to build a firm that today works Fortune 500 brands.
Make the best possible decisions. When you have an important decision to make, choose a date and time as the deadline for your decision. Then use the time to gather all the necessary information and make your decision when the deadline comes. Then back your decision. I’ve seen so many people constantly doubting their decisions and complaining how much different their lives would have been if they chose another route. We should know that this happens to everyone because none of us can see the future. But if you know that you took the best possible decision at the time, you’ll live with a lot less regret.
Avoid difficult people, but not difficult conversations. People who bring nothing but toxicity to your life should not be a part of it (but remember to forgive them, otherwise it’s you who is bringing the toxicity to your life). On the other hand, we should not be afraid of having difficult conversations. It is only through being challenged that we grow and become wiser.
Be sure to clean up your social media too – following those accounts that make you cringe can impact your psychological well-being in ways that you might not notice but that make a big impact overtime. On the other hand, following inspiring influencer accounts on fitness or those that reflect your goals and aspirations can motivate you to do better.
Although each person’s road to wisdom may differ, I have really found this advice helpful in my own life. And I continue to use it, as I progress in my efforts to become just a little bit wiser each day.