From recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come these two quotes –
“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
“Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.” (Doug Larson)
We all gain knowledge over time; or at least we are exposed to situations from which we could/should learn and gain knowledge. We may or may not gain wisdom from those experiences. One definition that I found for wisdom is – Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.
So, wisdom is actually the display of the use of all of the knowledge and experiences that one has had in life, combined with some thoughtful insight and some common sense. One can take from that definition that a person displaying wisdom will know when to use those exceptions that apparently come from living long enough to have discovered or experienced them. More importantly that same wisdom will help that person avoid those situations that would require the use of that wisdom. No one ever said at the end of an episode of the TV show Jackass that the participants were wise; although they might painfully be a bit more knowledgeable at the end of the episode.
Perhaps the secret to wisdom is found in the last three characteristics in the definition above –understanding, common sense and insight. All of us go through life experiencing things and learning things, but not all take the time to reflect on what we’ve learned and our experiences to understand them and gain some insight from them. Some also may suffer from a deficit of common sense. Another saying from a recent post that Jack made was this – “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” (Edmund Burke). Perhaps to have experiences without learning is the same and is caused by the same lack of reflection.
Just taking time to think at the end of an event or experience in your life is helpful. Ask yourself, “what just happened; how did that happen; how did I react to what just happened and what can I take away from what just happened?” Going through a thought process like that can help you turn an experience into knowledge and gain insight that will help turn that knowledge and experience into wisdom. That wisdom will better prepare you for the next experiences that you have.
Have a thoughtful, reflective weekend and perhaps you’ll gain in wisdom.