Seek wisdom within…

February 12, 2019

Today may end up being another of those days when one ends up with time for introspection. It’s either that or go shovel the snow and ice; and I’m not ready to shovel, yet.

Perusing through some quotes about wisdom, I happened upon these two –

 “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  ― Aristotle

There were also a number of quotes on wisdom that pointed to the same conclusion – namely, that realizing that you know nothing is the start of wisdom.

protestersI suspect that many of us when through a “change the world phase” in our lives, maybe more than one. It is only later in life that we realize that we were trying to make the world over into something of our own desires and not necessarily for the betterment of humankind. Of course, at the time we firmly believed that what we wanted was for the good of humankind. Hubris always seems to precede humility in life.

As one ages, there is more time spent on the topic of knowing yourself and hopefully on becoming comfortable with that self-knowledge. I’ve posted here a few times on the topic of knowing, accepting and loving yourself before you can love others – see I Like Me and Just be Yourself, both of which I wrote back in 2014.

Maybe you can turn this snow day into a know day. Spend some time just with yourself,bored with your thoughts and dreams and with your fears and fantasies. Get to know yourself and try to better understand how those inner feelings influence how you react to the people and things going on around you.

The more honest insight into yourself that you can achieve, the better equipped you will be to deal with the things that happen in life; and, the more that you selfie stickan come to love yourself, the more able you will be to love others. I posted “Take a Life Selfie” here back in 2017 and maybe it’s worth a re-read today, too. It’s certainly a day when you may have time for taking that life selfie and reflecting upon it.

Have a reflective day.

I hope you end up happy with what you see in your life selfie.

 


Keep your mind’s bank open for life…

June 7, 2017

Recently Pastor Jack Freed used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“What you put into your mind before you are 21 is like a bank account.  You will be drawing on that for the rest of your life.”  (Yo Yo Ma)

While it is true that the things we learn in our formative years, during which many of us were in schools at various levels, it is also true that we continue to learn throughout our lives…if, our mind’s bank remains open.

There is a popular book titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. The author focuses on the mores and character of our lives than on our knowledge and wisdom in that book. The fact is that, if we keep an knowledge inopen mind (open to learning new things), we can continue to learn and add to our bank account of knowledge until our last day. One can, and must, keep a sense of wonder about the things and people around us to keep learning. How do things work? Why do things happen? Who is that person and what can I learn from them? We must keep inquiring, questioning and wondering all of our lives in order to keep the bank accounts open. “There are few things more pathetic than those who have lost their curiosity and sense of adventure, and who no longer care to learn.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley.

It is rather common for young people, especially those still in school, to not understand the future value of what they are forced to learn in school. The common lament is “Why should I learn this, I’ll never use it?” In fact, that person may never use the exact things insightthat they are being taught; however, many things that are taught in school are taught within the context of a process and understanding the process is as important as understanding any single fact or equation. Most of the so-called STEM subjects fall into that category. Some subjects are lumped into a broad category called “enabling knowledge”, which is meant to establish a context in which the world can be better understood. Those topics may include social studies and history. Finally, a few may be classified as “enrichment” topics, such as art classes; which are meant to broaden or enhance our perceptions of the world around us. In truth, epecially once we get out of school, George Whitman put it well when he said – “All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”

Some people seem to shut down the desire to learn more when they get out at whatever level of schooling they stopped, while others continue a life of wonderment and learning. A life well-lived might be better measured by what one has accumulated in the bankbrain map of one’s mind, rather than the money accumulated in regular banks. In the financial world there is the concept of compounding (interest earning interest) and in the bank of one’s mind there is the concept of wisdom. The interest that one earns on all of that accumulated knowledge is called wisdom. Instead of just drawing on what you learned as a student in school, heed this advice from Albert Einstein – “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

worriesSo, keep your mind open to learning, to acquiring new knowledge and new ideas and view them as deposits into your mind’s knowledge bank. It is a wise man indeed who never stops making deposits in his bank of knowledge. Henry Ford hit upon another reason to keep learning – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Stay young my friends – keep learning.


It’s a living; but, is it a life?

March 2, 2017

“Work won’t hug you when you’re old.”  (Bob Dotson)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – Dotson tells of a man whose work caused him to be away from home for extended periods of time.  While gone, he’d plan “Daddy Days” with his daughter when he got home.  Those were special!  We need to be alert so that in our making a living, we don’t neglect to make a life.

I’ve written here a few times before about the danger of getting so wrapped up in one’s family grroupcareer and the need to make more and more money, that one forgets the important things in life – why and for who they are supposedly doing it. All too often it is the parting embrace of the father-daughter dance at her wedding that a father realizes his little girl has grown up and that he missed most of it, because he was so hard at work. Perhaps it is when his son drives away with his bride that the father stops to reflect on years of missed ball games and lost opportunities for father-son bonding.

Whether we admit it or not, a large part of the cause for one’s devotion to a career, is not the drive to earn money for the family, it is the need to feed an ego that hungers for recognition and adoration.  It is the need for external indications of success in life that one may not be able to find or identify from their day-to-day family life. Only later in life do father-daughter dancepeople who fall into that trap find out that the most important roles that they ever had in life were husband and father. At least Dorson recognized that enough to plan Daddy Days when he was home.

Many over-achievers find even more ways to attain self-gratification when not working by engaging in sports or other competitive leisure-time pursuits.  They don’t see being a successful parent and being engaged in their children’s lives to be as a satisfying “win” as being club champion at the country club. I was interested to read recently that Christopher Ilitich, the new CEO of the Ilitch Enterprises pizza and entertainment empire, is also a coach on his son’s baseball team. It appears that he is living a more balanced and rewarding life.

Sometimes trying to achieve that balance can feel a little like the guy with one foot on the dock and one foot in an untied boat. The dock (your family and home life) is, and should beone-foot-on-the-dock the foundation upon which your life is based. The boat will almost certainly try to float away and take you from that foundation. It is tempting sometimes to just jump into the boat and see where it takes you and you may not even look back at the dock until it is out of sight. It takes a stronger person to keep a foot on/in both and not let the boat drift away with you in it. If you really think about it; everything that you really want and cherish is on the dock and not in the boat; so, never give up your foothold there.

So much of the wisdom of life that is shared by older people is couched in terms like “don’t do what I did” that is make one wonder why it took so long for them to realize their mistakes. Perhaps the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 2:2626 – To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Perhaps, instead of chasing the wind, if one man prayingfinds God first, He will give you the wisdom to see the important things in life and show you the right path to take.

I have a feeling that if you center your life around God the rest of the things will take care of themselves and you will have more fulfilling relationships with your wife and children. They will be there to give you those hugs throughout life and not just when you are old. As you count your “treasures” at the end of life, those accumulated hugs will be of much greater value than all of the salary and bonuses that you’ve ever earned.  Make all of the days that you can Daddy Days and Husband Days with those who love you.

Have a great rest of the week. There’s a Daddy Weekend coming up.


Maybe wisdom is – knowing how to avoid having to use the exceptions…

August 13, 2016

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)

boredWe 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 visualizingabove –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 wisdom2happened 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.

 


Sharing the wisdom of all ages…

August 21, 2015

“If you only get involved with young people you don’t learn anything about the world.”  (Edmund White) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Edmund White was probably trying to encourage young people to spend some time with older people and not toold and young just hang around with people their own age. The young can hopefully tap into the wisdom that their elders have accumulated from a lifetime of experiences and perhaps avoid repeating the mistakes that led to some of that wisdom.  As Jack went on to point out, there is also much for older people to learn from the young.

The youth of every era represent the changes that are taking place in our society; so, spending time with them and understanding their perspective on things will help older people see and understand the changes that are taking place in society. Conversely, the youth might gain the perspective of where things came from and better understand how different things are for them than they were for their parents or grandparents. Many of them are growing up never having experienced the things and life styles that shaped their elders viewpoints. For them a life lacking modern technologies would be as weird and bewildering as some of their elders find their use tutoringof technology to be today. Imagining a world where the phone was attached to a cord is as strange to them as their elder’s bemusement over modern smartphone usage.

Hopefully, if you’re a younger person, you will make some time to spend with your grandparents or other older relatives just talking about life as it was and as it is today. You might enjoy some of the stories that they have to tell you, and you might even learn something. If you have no older relatives close to where you live, perhaps you could visit a senior living home in your area and see if there are some lonely seniors there who would enjoy a visit and a chance to talk with you.

If you are the elder person in this scenario, put aside your suspicions and concerns about modern technologies and the youthful life styles that you may not agree with and see if you can tap into and understand the energy and enthusiasm that is there in youth. You may have forgotten what it was like to be young or you may only selectively remember your own youthful exuberance and the mistakes that you made while you were growing up. Perhaps those weren’t mistakes after all, just learning experiences. Share your wisdom with the young while recapturing some little piece of that wonderful, innocent and naive that we call youth.  You can’t go back, but maybe some of those memories and feelings can come back to you.

In a broader sense, you could restate today’s quote to read “If you only get involved with people who arediversity just like you, you don’t learn anything about the world.” It is through diverse relationships – across ages and races and religions and ethnic groups – that we broaden our perspective of the world. The ability to understand other viewpoints and share the experiences and wisdom of diverse groups enables a richer understanding of the world around us. Integrating those differences into our own thinking allows us not only to be more tolerant of differing opinions, but gives us a much richer knowledge base upon which to base our own life decisions. Enrich your life today. Talk to someone not your own age, race, color, religion or ethnic background. You’ll be glad that you did.


Take a minute to think about it…

August 17, 2015

“Ours is a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom.”  (Arianna Huffington) – as seen on  the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

While it is ubiquitous and easy to use, Google has also encouraged intellectual laziness. The Google answers returned are also not always even correct or the truth; however, as a society we’ve become such Google knowledge inzombies that we tend to believe whatever we see there, without taking the time to think about it. We consume the “information” that is returned, but do not necessarily make the effort to evaluate it and to add it to our store of knowledge and wisdom. It’s just as easy to go get it at Google again the next time that we need it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the store of available information at Google is tremendous and it does make many things in life much easier than they used to be. It is our own mental laziness that detracts from the potential value of having all of that information at hand. It is a thought pattern that says, “Why learn it when you can just Google it?” The easiest answer is that learning leads to wisdom and it is that ability to learn and accumulate wisdom that separates us from the other animals.

thinking womanSo, the next time you Google something to get directions or get an answer to a question, take the time to evaluate the answer that you get and to find a place for those answers that seem valid in your storehouse of wisdom. Don’t just accept the first answer at the top of the returns, without checking a few further down the list; and always take the time to understand who posted that answer and consider why. That is especially true on the Wiki posts that you might get back, since anybody can post things there true or not.

Speaking of that, there is a little routine that a local sportscaster does from time to time called, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.”  Too many people have come to believe that little statement and accept things that they see on the Internet as the truth. The Internet probably has nearly as many hoax posts and false posts as it has valuable information. Anything that you see on the Internet should be viewed with at least a critical eye, if not a skeptical one.

Remember, too, that companies and people pay Google for placement in their query returns. So, when you ask a question like “which is the best of something” or “where is the cheapest place to”, you will likely get back answers that someone has paid to put in front of you, rather than an honest answer to your question. Most of the times you’ll probably get ads back first. Ask for low cost hotels somewhere and you’ll be deluged with ads for travel sites, rather than any real hotel information. Maybe the “wisdom” there is realizing that Google won’t really answer your question. See, you learned something by taking a minute to think about it. You’ve added to yourman thinking wisdom.

Perhaps, instead of starting down at your smartphone to see what Google says is going on in the area around you, you should put it away and actually start seeing and doing the things that are going on around you. It’s called living and the thing that you gain by doing it is called wisdom. Google that.


Those aren’t scars; that’s wisdom building up…

May 7, 2014

I think I got today’s little saying from the blog Jack’s Winning Words; but, even if I didn’t, it sounds like something that Jack would use.

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.”
― Terry Pratchett

That’s so true. We build our wisdom from experiences and from taking the time to understand those experiences. Those who don’t take that second step are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, instead of learning from them.

One can’t avoid having experiences; they just happen. As we are growing up and have experiences, especially those in which we make mistakes, we often hear the phrase – “You should have known better.” How helpful is that? Obviously we didn’t know better. A better phrase to offer to someone who has just made a mistake would be “what did you learn from that?”

Do you take some time at the end of the day to reflect on the good the bad and the ugly things of the day? Do youthnk about it
relish the good things that happened; turning them over in your mind and getting another smile out of them? What do you do with the bad and the ugly? Do you try to understand them and the way you reacted to them and perhaps think about a better way to have reacted, so that you’ll be prepared for those situations better next time? If you do, you are building your wisdom. If not, what do you expect to happen the next time? Will you still be flummoxed by the situation? Will you get angry again or be embarrassed again or just not know how to act – again? Why? Did you learn nothing from the experience?

If you’ve had an experience; turn that first into knowledge by thinking more about it and then into wisdom by figuring out how to use your new knowledge in the future, should that ever happen again. Remember too that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time. It’s better to be wise than to be thought to be insane.

Sometimes the things that we learn from involve pain, either real, physical pain or emotional pain, but eventually the wounds that our experiences open will scar over and heal (thus my title for today’s post) and we add what we have learned to our storehouse of wisdom. A surprising amount of our wisdom comes from what we learned out of our failures or the mistakes that we make in life; however, it is also important to add the things that we learn from successes, especially successes in relationships. What makes that significant other person in knowledge inyour life happy? What things that you do make them smile or laugh or give you a hug. If you know that, why wouldn’t you do those things more often?

I’m sure that many of us have some level of wisdom about what happens when we forget a birthday or anniversary or other important occasion for the one with whom we share life’s journey. Hopefully we also have good knowledge about what we should do on those occasions. We also have some level of recognition of our personal shortcomings, especially in terms of remembering things and occasions. So, in our new-found wisdom, we should take steps to make sure that no special occasion goes un-noticed and unrecognized. Write them down, put them in your calendar, and don’t forget again this year. None of us needs a new layer of wisdom scar tissue on those old wounds.

Learn from life and be wise my friends.


Reflections about life…

March 8, 2014

I came across two quotes that I really like because they focus upon a couple of aspects of life that we need to understand or at least acknowledge. The first saying deals with the need to think about things and plan a bit in life –

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser – John W. Gardner

At its most basic level this little quote is saying that in life we get no “do-overs”, there is no eraser; no ability to say “Ooppsie, can I do that again?” I thought almost immediately about a toy from my childhood that is still popular today – the Etch-A-Sketch. What a fun, and at the same time frustrating, toy that was. You could make really neat drawing on one, draw anything really; however, you absolutely had to really think it out and plan it out ahead of time, because there was no way to pick up the etching stylus inside and move it to a new location. It would be like putting your pencil on the paper and not being allowed to lift it again until the drawing is done. You can now get Etch-A-Sketch as a free app for your smartphone, if you’re up to dealing with a lot of frustration, give it a try. And as inspiration for what can be done without an eraser, click here to see a gallery of Etch-A-Sketch art or here to watch a YouTube video of an Etch-A-Sketch in action, albeit in the hands of a very patient artist.

When you think about it life is like that. Time is our stylus (or pencil) and we don’t get to stop time and go back or erase what we’ve done, if we’ve drawn ourselves into a corner. Our pencils are on the paper, so to speak and we can only move forward through time with the drawings that are our lives.

The other saying that seemed to fit is this one that is also about time –

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards – Doren Kierkegaard

Our lives are often analyzed by looking back over events or decisions; it’s sort of like the stock market where everyone’s an expert on what happened yesterday and no one has a clue what will happen tomorrow. Actually the expert opinion about what caused the rise or dip in the market yesterday is subject to widely different interpretations; so there really aren’t any experts on that either.

What we strive to do sometimes is to look back at situations and reflect on our own actions. Why did we do that? What did we say that? What was I thinking? Reflections like that on the past help us organize and archive or experiences and thoughts about them into our knowledge base and eventually jell into what we call wisdom. Of course, by the time many of us become wise, the thing that we are wisest about may well be how differently things might have been had we only known then. There is a thin line sometimes between wisdom and regret.

I think one take-away from combining the thoughts from those two quotes is that you need to think things out before you draw a mistake into your life and that one way to help with that is to reflect upon, learn from the past and build your storehouse of wisdom; however, you cannot spend all of your time reflecting upon the past nor planning for the future; you have a today to live, so get on with it.

 


Maybe that’s called wisdom…

December 9, 2012

 “As I get older I find that I’m not smarter about the things I say, but rather smarter about the things I don’t say.” (Norm Werner)

Today’s saying didn’t come from my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words; but, it’s just something that I thought of recently. Maybe Jack will use it on his blog. I have been blessed (or cursed depending upon your view) with a fairly quick wit; however, when I was younger I was not always judicious with the use of the things that occur to me in response to things around me. While I always found the thoughts that would pop into my head to be funny, and many others seem to also find them to be Mouth shuthumorous; there were also many times when I later regretted blurting out that witty retort or cute double entendre remark.  Eventually, I learned to hold my tongue, at least long enough to consider whether sharing my witty thought was appropriate. I became smarter about the things that I don’t say.

That is an important life lesson, whether it concerns witty remarks or just remarks in general. These days it also has great applicability to the stage that so many use to express themselves – Social Media. Whether it be in a blog or on Facebook or Twitter, stopping to consider the thoughts that you are about to share with the world is good advice. Many people think of Facebook as just a place to carry on conversations among friends, but it has also become a favorite checkpoint for job recruiters to visit on order to find out what kind of a person you may be. The offhand remarks that you drop into your Facebook posts will stay out there forever and could come back to haunt you, especially if you’ve allowed yourself to spew vitriolic remarks at someone or some company. The same caution applies to sharing too much personal information about yourself on those sites. It’s not just scam artists that you need be concerned about, it may be that next employer who is looking up what you’ve said.

Blogs can also be dangerous. There is a tendency to think of a blog as a personal soapbox upon which everything is fair game. Certainly there are few rules governing what one can say on a blog; however, restraint and self-control are critical there, too. Blogs tend to encourage the sharing of opinions, but you really need to think about whether your opinion is important enough to share to risk offending or turning off those who do not share it. Certainly that is true in areas like politics and religion. I try to stay away from those topics. I suppose that I might have offended some politicians in Washington from time to time by referring to them as bozos or worse when they pass some bonehead law to protect us from ourselves or worse, fail to do anything useful at all. Maybe there should be a special exemption for talking about politicians, since they have usually earned the witty or scathing remarks that they draw.

I don’t feel the least bit constrained by my new found ability to stop and think about what I’m about to say in public or on a public social media site. Usually the result is better, more thought out and coherent. Sometimes the result is not to say anything at all, and that’s OK, too. The alternative is to continue to be that disruptive kid in class who blurts out everything that comes to mind. As you age it’s becomes obvious that more people than just the teacher is annoyed by that. I think realizing that and doing something about it is called wisdom – amazing what getting older can do for you.