Ten Paths To Instant Wisdom

Knowledge is one thing but wisdom is in the knowing of how to apply that knowledge. All of us have the potential to be wise and that is a good thing because being wise can save us a lot of heartache and negativity in our lives.

For me, wisdom comes down to that one split-second decision making process between having a particular thought and then following that thought with spoken words or action – or not. And in most cases, a wise-mind will defer to not act or speak in the interest of restraint and subsequently not looking like a jackass.

Not all wise people are “smart” and just as surely not all smart people are “wise,” or as Roy H. Williams puts it, “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”

Wisdom and being wise is accessible to all of us if we wish. Here are 10 ways you can think, act, and speak like a wise person when needed:

  1. Engage your brain before engaging your mouth. – Simply put, think BEFORE you speak. Will your words add value to a situation or not? Are you words going to hurt or are they going to help someone? Before you open your mouth to say something, make sure it’s something you would be proud to post everywhere on social media. If it’s something you might regret later, then maybe it’s better if you kept it to yourself. Keeping this quote in mind always before speaking can go a long ways towards keeping you out of trouble… “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
  2. Understand there is never a right-time. – There is no time like the present, so the best time to do anything is now. Take that first step toward your goal. Waiting will only make you older, not wiser. I was asked in an interview what is the best thing, or first step for a person to advance, grow, or develop in life. My answer was that I do not know but what I do know is that the best time to start is now.
  3. Consider others as well as yourself. – On one end of the spectrum you have the very selfish people while at the other end you have the selfless people, and on a normal day we all tend to fall somewhere in between the two. You should always look after your own needs but you should also consider the needs of others as well. It is a balancing act that can be mastered if you try hard enough.
  4. Don’t confuse your assumptions with facts. – Take the time to ensure that you are thinking clearly in any conflict or disagreement. Calm down and put things into perspective. In other words, think before you think! Look at the facts rather than what you assume are the facts before speaking or acting.
  5. Don’t get caught up in group-think. – Just because everyone does something one-way or thinks one-way, doesn’t mean that you automatically have to also. A wise person will always take a step back from the crowd in order to observe and to form their own thoughts and opinions. Bottom line: think for yourself. “A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.” – Grantland Rice
  6. Protect your personal power from negativity. – Most people allow the behaviors of others to affect them negatively. Whereas wise people realize that they are always in control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Don’t get caught up in the negativity and dramas that other people create. Protect your power and happiness by not allowing negative people to bring you down to their level.
  7. Act on your goals, not on your impulses. – Acting on impulse more than often leads to regrets. Take the time to think through a situation otherwise you might just create more problems for yourself. Use both your logic and intuition when it comes to making decisions. Bottom line: Think before you act!
  8. You can change yourself but don’t try to change others. – I believe we have all tried to change other people in our life at one time or the other and often with disastrous results. People are who they are so accept them for who they are. After all, you want to be accepted for who you are, right? Respect the uniqueness of other people as your would like them to respect your own.
  9. Look beyond the cover and the packaging. – Never allow yourself to be blinded by charm, personality, or looks right away. Always remember that the “outer-person” may not be the same as the “inner-person.” A wise person will take the time to get to know people based on their inner selves, not who or what they appear to be, as there can be a huge difference between the two.
  10. Practice empathy. – To be wise is to refrain from judging other people. Instead, practice empathy, which is putting yourself in another persons situation and trying to see their reality from their point of view. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them but trying to have an understanding of “where they are coming from” instead.

Wisdom is more art than science I believe. It is the practice of engaging thought before taking measures. It is the ability to grasp that opportune half of a second before committing folly. It doesn’t always come easy, it takes learning, and it takes practice. I hope that these ten steps above can help when you are presented the opportunity to choose between acting with wisdom or behaving with foolishness. It is easier said than done for many people, but it is possible to think and act wisely with practice.

What words or thoughts on wisdom would you like to share that I might have left out?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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