When you ask someone what they would change about their life, they usually think for a moment and then comment, ‘nothing really because I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I changed anything.’ Well, let’s think about this for a moment. Let’s assume that you would be the same person and know everything that you know now but could still have one ‘redo’ in life what would it be? You only get one so think hard before you decide. This practice is called, strangely enough, thinking about thinking and it is a valuable skill to develop because it is the initial step in developing wisdom. To think about what you have learned through the challenges and opportunities in life – the life lessons – and what you would have done differently if given the chance is more than wishful thinking. It is part one of developing wisdom.
Although we all have the seed in us to develop it wisdom doesn’t develop automatically as one becomes older it needs to be cultivated. In fact, there are many young people who just seem to possess a certain wisdom about life and have some lessons to teach us regardless of our age. By observing them, we watch them consciously reflecting on events or situations in their lives as if they are a bystander watching someone else. We often hear them saying, ‘ ….happened and next time I intend to do …. differently.’ They are in a constant mode of self evaluation, trying to unearth the lessons in their recent experiences for the purpose of becoming wiser.
People who possess wisdom refuse to see the world in absolutes. Sometimes you run across people who are so busy directing things and telling you how to think and what to do that it is exhausting. They are the black/white, right/wrong, for/against type of thinkers. Their thinking and behavior is the antitheses of those who are wise. People who have developed wisdom see in what one author calls ‘the shades of grey.’ Realizing that each situation and person is unique they try to put themselves in another person’s shoes. They refuse the simple and dangerous act of judgment or simplistic answers and move rather toward a deeper understanding of the person and their circumstances at the time. They are attentive listeners who do not offer input unless asked and then give it only after careful thought. Frequently, they will first ask you how you feel about the situation you are describing to them. Their most important concern is how you are feeling not merely voicing their opinion on the matter at hand. They look for the road less travelled – the more challenging analysis in the situation.
Folks who have developed wisdom in life just seem to have a purpose than involves others as well as themselves. They have the perfect blend between altruism and taking care of self. We often watch and marvel at how things just seem to work out for them. Yet, in reality, these folks truly work at it. They understand that to achieve what they want others must also receive and benefit in the process. Life for them is a win – win. Although they give as much as they receive they would, if needed, put themselves second for the sake of a better outcome for others.
Look around you this week and see if you can spot someone who epitomizes the attributes of wisdom. They are a pleasure to behold. The good news is that we can all become wiser if we choose to put in the effort to do so. It’s a practiced skill. The more you practice it the better you get at it. No one has the corner on the market for wisdom. It is an equal opportunity skill just waiting to be developed.
Have a great few days!