Who would you consider to be wise? How would you describe this person?

The person you’re considering probably has knowledge about human nature, knows how to act, give advice, and handle conflict.

They are also probably peaceful, embrace the uncertainty of life, and acknowledge differences in values and cultures.

Wisdom is our knowledge, awareness, and insight about practical aspects of life, and is often considered an intelligence that comes with age and experience. As we go through life we learn how to deal with difficult situations and handle unexpected life events.

It’s a reality that life will bring challenges, difficulties, and misfortune, and having resilience and wisdom helps us navigate our life and make better decisions, as we slowly learn about the world and develop a philosophy of living.

Though, in many Westernized, ageist cultures, being wise, sensible, and cautious isn’t viewed as an indispensable quality and is often downplayed.

This is unfortunate because wisdom is one of the most subtle yet advantageous human virtues and cognitive capacities. Wisdom can provide an open-minded, tranquil, and level headed approach to living. It leads us to seek self-growth and personal development, as well as build relationships and expand our spiritual nature.

Wisdom is what helps us interact with world effectively, and approach life with respect, understanding, patience, and kindness.

So, despite the benefits wisdom brings, the important question becomes can wisdom be learned through knowledge and not just experience?

Can we teach youth how to be wise?

I know the wisdom I hold has come particularly from early life mistakes that prompted personal-growth and self-discipline. Though, I believe that wisdom can be gained without having to experience life changing situations and immense levels of distress. Direct experience is a more immediate route, but certainly can’t be the only one.

One article I read considers that even if we can’t teach others to be “wise” we can certainly help them be “wiser”. In this sense helping young people become more aware of their personal values and learn how to think more deeply and critically about life situations is one avenue to prompt this cognitive growth.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy also provides a template for becoming more mindful and developing what’s termed a “wise mind.” The wise mind balances emotion and reason, where we’re able to connect with and validate our emotions, but are able to think before we act and not let emotions control our response to life’s situations.

All in all being wise is having the knowledge to make decisions and solve complex real-world problems. It helps us to get along with others and realize what’s truly important.

I think that helping youth understand the idea of wisdom is crucial for healthy development at the individual level and for the collective community. Whether wisdom, personal-growth, and greater self-awareness come from difficult life experiences or formal education, helping people start looking for the value in difficult situations can offer a fundamental source of strength and power.

Photo credit: Arbron

 


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    Last reviewed: 19 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Gaining Wisdom to Deal with Life’s Challenges. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/03/gaining-wisdom-to-deal-with-lifes-challenges/

 

 

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