For all my life, I’ve pursued wisdom. I vividly recall my mom encouraging me to hang out more with older people, especially those with grey hair because they are great sources of wisdom. My parents planted this seed in my heart when I was a child. They also taught me to look beyond actions and behaviors to causes, effects, influences, consequences, and relationships. Education became part of my pursuit of wisdom—acquiring knowledge that could be applied to transforming communities, people’s lives, and positively influencing the world.
But what is wisdom?
The word often defines wisdom as higher knowledge or application of knowledge. I have gained wisdom through personal experiences, observing and interacting with others, and trying new things.
As a woman of faith, I look to God as my ultimate source of wisdom (James, 1:5), as human knowledge and reasoning are always limited and flawed.
Aristotle believed that wisdom is the understanding of causes. Understanding causes involves the ability to analyze cause and effect, interrelationships, and therefore, understand interdependence. For instance, a wise person understands that today’s decision will influence life down the road. They understand that time is a commodity to be invested and not spent. And they also comprehend the many ways their actions (and inactions) influence others.
Wisdom sees the bigger picture and makes decisions that respect the goals and values of life.
For me, values of life encompass faith, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and investing in my community and in others. At the core of wisdom is love for others that allows us to make decisions that override selfishness and me-first, right-now, make-me-happy motives.
- considers the bigger picture.
- evaluates outcomes on others.
- makes decisions with long-term goals.
- is motivated by mercy, grace, and love.
- waits for the right moment and circumstances.
- gracefully responds to the hurt, disappointment, and grief of others.
The journey to gain wisdom never ends.
For me, acquiring wisdom and learning from others has become sweeter with each passing year. As part of my self-study, I recently came across the Center for Practical Wisdom at the University of Chicago.
I believe that life should be a journey to acquire wisdom. What about you? What are your thoughts on wisdom? I’d like to hear from you. Comments are always welcome.