If there is one thing we all could use a little more of is wisdom. But when we think about it, the mind usually goes to constructs like knowledge, sagacity, and understanding. And oddly enough, the people who think of themselves as wise are usually the ones who have the least. So what really is wisdom? Is it something you are, or is it something you gain? And if it is something that you gain, how do you cultivate it? Read on to find out.
What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?
Right off the bat, most people would agree that knowledge and wisdom are to different animals. But how are they different? Let’s start with knowledge: Knowledge can be defined as a familiarity of something gained through learning or experience. In other words, your knowledge is made up of all the things you have an awareness and understanding of, and that live in your conscious brain, rather than an external source like a book.
Wisdom also stems from learning and experience, but there are some fundamental differences between a wise person and a knowledgeable one. In simple terms being wise is how you apply your knowledge. A perfect example is the popular saying, “knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”
Contrary to popular belief, wisdom isn’t reserved only for the elderly or people who have lived hard lives. Anyone can be wise based on their own experiences, skills, and characteristics, not just their age or personal circumstances.
How can one achieve more wisdom?
People often say that wisdom is achieved through experience. It’s impossible to be wise if you haven’t stepped outside your comfort zone and lived life. But having a lot of experiences is not going to necessarily make you wiser if you are not present and paying attention: this is why a lot of folks trying to cultivate wisdom look into mindfulness meditation to train their brain to stay in the moment. According to BetterHelp, a therapeutic setting where you can gain insight of your own inner self can also be a great place to start for gaining wisdom.
Other things that wise people frequently do:
- They are not afraid to make mistakes and make them often
- They have multiple mentors
- They seek novelty and learning new things
- They open their minds to different perspectives
- They constantly challenge their way of thinking
- They pay it forward by sharing their wisdom with others
20 quotes about knowledge and wisdom that will inspire you to live a better life
About the importance of wisdom in life
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
―Harry S Truman
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
— Oprah Winfrey
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“We can have all the knowledge in the world, but it means nothing without the wisdom to know what to do with it.”
— Marie Osmond
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
— Herman Hesse
About the beauty of learning and knowledge
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”
― Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”
― B.B. King
“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
— Dr. Seuss
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
— Daniel Boorstin
To wrap things up
Building wisdom is a life-long process that some would argue is never really complete. To be truly wise and knowledgeable of the world, we must step out of our comfort zone and open our minds to different opinions and worldviews. Wisdom is not reserved for seniors or older folks only, but it helps to have been through a lot of experiences when it comes to gaining the ability to contemplate and act upon our knowledge.