How to Develop Your Wisdom To Meet Our Challenges
In an increasingly restless world facing major challenges, taking a step back is better instead of fighting. Developing wisdom to approach things with serenity is an excellent way to meet our challenges. In this article, I propose to deepen this notion and discover how to work with it.
What is Wisdom?
Today, wisdom is defined as the ability to find practical, creative, contextually relevant, and emotionally satisfying solutions to complicated human problems. While wisdom shares a number of qualities with intelligence and spirituality, these three concepts are distinct. The virtue that interests us here is seen as a multidimensional trait that is useful to the individual and society.
The fact of being WISE makes it possible to flourish more and to withstand hardships better. Wisdom also has positive effects on health and well-being. It is, therefore, a significant asset for those seeking to gain efficiency and serenity1,2.
However, the study of wisdom by scientists is relatively recent. It is due to its complexity. Before the 2000s, this type of concept seemed impossible to study scientifically. By advancing in the study of many other psychological dimensions, we have been able to define and measure this concept better. Today, there are even questionnaires to assess the level of wisdom of an individual. If you want to know more about this and evaluate your current level, I invite you to consult this blog post.
7 Ways to Develop Wisdom
We can all gain in wisdom, there is no need to wait until you are 70 or 80 years of age. Moreover, the link between wisdom and age is less evident and automatic than one might think.
As wisdom can be broken down into 7 components, I offer you ways to develop each of them below. However, know that the dimensions that matter most in wisdom are prosocial behaviors, emotional regulation, and social counseling. Introspection, open-mindedness, and the ability to make decisions are less central but still important. Spirituality, recently added to the definition of wisdom, has a lesser impact on the overall level of wisdom. It is in this order that I will present you with ways to work on developing your wisdom.
1. Develop Prosocial Behaviors
These include empathy, compassion, altruism, and a sense of fairness. In particular, they help maintain positive social connections.
Summary of practicing random acts of kindness To develop them, you can:
Put yourself in the place of others.
Seek to understand the experiences of people in situations different from yours. How do they live? How do they work? What problems are they having?
Spend time with others to understand them. What brings them happiness? What are their dreams? What obstacles do they encounter?
Build relationships with people you already know but only sometimes connect with.
Performing random acts of kindness. Small acts of kindness bring happiness to those who serve them. Any setting is suitable. Indeed, generosity at work reduces the risk of burnout, while generosity in the couple makes the romantic relationship more satisfying and lasting.
Several studies have shown that repeating incidental acts of kindness for 6 weeks improves well-being. Small small gestures bring positivity to others, thus increasing positive emotions and reducing negative emotions.
2. Learn to Regulate Your Emotions
This is about developing the ability to regulate negative emotions and stress that interfere with decision-making. Controlling your emotions also involves being able to foster positive emotions.
But beware, I’m not encouraging you to suppress all emotion and live like a robot; quite the contrary! Emotions have an undeniable utility because they give us valuable information about what is happening in us and around us. The objective is, therefore, not to no longer feel anything but precisely to fully feel the emotions when it seems relevant and valuable to us. In other situations, they will be considered without being overwhelmed to avoid a possible counterproductive effect.
In short, this is exactly what the approach of mindfulness and meditation advocates. In these practices, we seek to observe what is happening within us to reintroduce a space of freedom concerning our thoughts and emotions. We can then choose to fully savor an emotion or, on the contrary, take into account what it tells us while regulating it.
It is also possible to put stress management approaches (or “coping”) in place to learn how to manage your emotions.
3. Develop Your Ability to Help Others
Cultivating one’s ability to help others aims to develop the sub-dimension of wisdom called “social counseling.” To work on this, you can:
Practice Active Listening:
It consists of paying full attention to what our interlocutor is expressing and concentrating on the latter rather than our thoughts and internal dialogue. This is about taking a sincere interest in what is being said and reviving the person being listened to help them develop their thoughts. This allows us to understand better how our interlocutors work and gain perspective on emotional processes. To listen well and fully listen, I invite you to follow the following advice:
Put Yourself in the Place of Your Interlocutor:
Pick a relationship you want to work on. Put yourself in the person’s shoes. When you speak, try to take his point of view as much as possible. For example, imagine that you are that person going about their business.
“Fact-check” Your Interpretations:
Think about the interactions you had with this person. Make a conscious effort to check your assumptions and interpretations about what the person has told you.
Give Your Full and Undivided Attention:
During a conversation, begin by giving your full attention to the other person. Before moving on, think about what would happen if you asked the following question: “I would like to check that I understood what you said to me. Does it not bother you? Most of the time, you’ll get a positive response.
Clarify What Was Said:
Make an effort to clarify what you think you heard. Identify and explain perceived emotions. If you’re not sure you understand correctly, ask.
Clarify What You Said:
During conversations, you can ask the other if they can share what they understood from what you said. Think about how you could clear up misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
4. Get To Know Each Other Better:
Wisdom begins, above all, with a good knowledge of oneself and its functioning. To advance in this area, you can practice the weekly balance sheet. This approach allows you to develop a panoramic vision of your projects, desires, difficulties, etc. The idea is to block out a few minutes each week to check what you have left to do, identify pending projects, and take stock of what has been done in the previous days. You will thus gain control and perspective for the future.
Here is a plot to help you:
What have you accomplished this week? What objectives or projects have been completed?
What is your subjective experience over the past week?
What did you learn in particular this week? What lessons can you draw from past events and actions taken?
What do you have to do in the coming week? Can you adapt things based on what the previous days have taught you? Do any projects require reorganization or a more in-depth point?
Organize your actions, projects, and priorities based on this assessment for the coming week.
To develop a reflective practice more broadly, I invite you to consult more blog articles on the site.
5. Learn To Keep An Open Mind
The development of wisdom also involves cultivating one’s intellectual humility. By remaining open to points of view different from one’s own, one learns to understand others, and one continues to discover new opportunities and possibilities throughout one’s life.
Understanding others better requires the explicit mobilization of our curiosity6,7. To do this, I invite you to try the following approaches:
Spend time with people you know less and ask them questions about their interests, backgrounds, etc.
Follow people from diverse backgrounds (ethnic, religious, political) on social media and listen to what they have to say.
Be truly present and attentive when interacting with others. Seek to identify topics that make them exciting, sad, or happy.
Visit new places, interact with locals, and immerse yourself in their way of life.
Cultivate your desire to learn and also a relevant approach. This article develops this idea further.
6. Make Decisions Effectively
A wise person is also able to make decisions effectively, most of the time. This means not only that the decisions taken are of better quality but also that these are taken in a reasonable time. It is, therefore, necessary to seek a good solution without postponing its reflection indefinitely, rather than always wanting to seek “the” best solution for weeks. To do this, you must start by setting good decision-making criteria. These will serve as filters to identify a satisfying option for you. Here are the different categories of useful criteria for making a good decision in a reasonable time:
The essential elements. If these criteria are not met, the option is eliminated.
Desirables: It would be preferable for the latter to be present, but if this is not the case, we can accept to do without them. It is possible to set a minimum proportion of desirable criteria to be met to validate an option (e.g., 2 out of 4 identified).
Bonuses: If these are present, great. These criteria are a bit like the “icing on the cake.” If they’re not there, it doesn’t matter. These bonus criteria can also be identified as a posteriori.
The goal is to make a good decision quickly. So don’t spend hours setting your criteria, and set yourself a time limit for decision-making. Once you have made your choice, take full advantage of the chosen option. Doing so is less stressful and promotes fulfillment in a world where choices and possibilities are more and more numerous.
7. Cultivate Your Spirituality
Spirituality includes a connection to oneself, to nature, or something transcendent (soul, God, etc.). Note that “spiritual” does not necessarily mean “religious,” although these two aspects can be linked. The idea is rather to reflect on the meaning of life, especially the meaning or purpose we want to give to our own life. This perspective helps reframe certain events and can facilitate certain decisions. This taking of height contributes to wisdom as long as it is based on a real work of reflection.
If you want to move forward on this subject, read the article, which offers 7 concrete ways to think about your purpose in life.
It can be challenging to be wise. Of course, mistakes are part of learning, and spontaneity is a precious thing that must be preserved. Gaining wisdom does not imply depriving yourself of curiosity and the desire to discover new things. Clearly, being wise does not mean knowing everything. It is instead a question of constantly questioning to continue progressing.
We have all regretted having been unwise at times. Also, cultivating this quality is always a good thing. Whether it is to improve one’s life or those around us, it is a reasonable step. It also allows us to integrate our environment and broader issues than those of our daily lives into our thinking.
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