What is the Worth of Wisdom?

This post will explore the worth of wisdom. Wisdom has value for all things. Wisdom will allow you to do the right thing at the right time in the right way. We will also learn the meaning of wisdom, the value of wisdom and how to gain wisdom.

Introduction

Your boss treats you like a child, always checking up on you while changing his plans every day and refusing to discuss any long-term preparation. The money is good, but several times this week you have nearly exploded in your bosses face. What should you do?

Riding your motorcycle down the street with your spouse sitting behind, you accidentally brush and knock down an old man who walked carelessly into your path. As you slow down to turn around and help the old man (who does not appear seriously injured) you spouse shouts, “Go, go, go! If we stop he might sue us.” What should you do?

You are a legal alien without a work permit. Yet you are working illegally as it’s the only way to be able to afford to stay in the country. The immigration authorities raid your hostel in the middle of the night. They carefully question each guest and directly ask you if you are working illegally. What should you do?

The Worth of Wisdom

Wisdom has value for everything, from what to eat to whom to marry, even to “is this the right time to tell the boss to shove it?” Nearly every blessing in life will be wasted if you don’t have wisdom and nearly every setback can be overcome if you do. Have you ever felt, “I have all the wisdom I need.” More likely you have faced difficult choices in life and felt bothered and bewildered. Is it crazy, then to want to be wise?

Some of life’s most challenging and life-altering decisions are thrust upon us in our teens and early twenties and by the nature of society we are usually surrounded and advised by our peers. Unfortunately, young people who have the most energy, creativity, and idealism are naturally lacking in wisdom. Likewise, no one is born wise, it is something we accumulate over our lifetimes. So, perhaps our society is unbalanced by expecting the youth to make wise choices on a daily basis.

Traditionally, it is to the aged that we look for wisdom and likely is the only practical reason for keeping the elderly fed and housed. Yet, age itself is no guarantee of wisdom for we all have met or at least heard of old fools. Even so, somehow, as time and experience accumulate, people can and do acquire wisdom. So perhaps we are missing the mark when we ignore the wisdom of our elders and seek to turn their world upside down in the pursuit of utopia.

What is the meaning of Wisdom?

People often confuse knowledge and wisdom. While they are related, they are distinct. Knowledge is focused on the accumulation and integration of information; wisdom is focused on the practical application of the aforementioned information. To quote a Chinese proverb, “To know and not to do is not to know.” In that sense, wisdom is confirmed knowledge. Wisdom can be defined as knowing the right thing to do at the right time in the right way and being willing to pay the price to do it. Let’s unpack that meaning a bit.

The right thing to do: Often people gain wisdom from making mistakes. By learning from what not to do, we can become wise as to what we should do. Sometimes its a process of elimination- Plan A, Plan B and Plan C failed, but Plan D worked, so let’s do more of Plan D. Often we gain wisdom by watching the failure of others, so we can do what’s right by avoiding their mistakes and imitating their successes.

The right time to do it: In the stock market, if you are too early or too late in making your investments, your potential profits will become losses. Life is full of uncertainty, just like the stock market. If you do the right thing at the wrong time, you will not get the benefits you expect. It is wise to study before a test, but waiting to study until the day before the test is not wise. Unless you are Bill Gates, who got away with it at Harvard.

The right way to do it: Manners are everything. It is not enough to be right, one must find the right way to do things. Otherwise, people will curse you rather than respect you. This takes insight into the ways of the world and the self-discipline to control one’s actions and desires. If you shout in the street that the Emperor has no clothes, do expect him to smile and thank you?

Do it even when it hurts: Often there is a price to pay for wise action. That’s because the world is full of fools who are in love with their foolishness. These unwise people may ridicule or persecute you for standing out from the maddening crowd. The wise person is willing to do right and be thought a fool by fools who think they are wise. A wise life is not always a happy one, though it is far more joyous than an unwise one in the long run.

The Opposite of Wisdom: Now consider the alternative: foolishness. You can be a fool even if you know the right thing to do but you do it at the wrong time or the wrong manner. And the most tragic fool of all is the one whose knowledge is correct but he doesn’t act on it. That will lead to a life of fear and regret.

How to gain wisdom

The best way to gain wisdom is to be mentored by wise people. Listen to them, watch them, spend lots of time with them. But, the frustrating thing about wisdom is that if you aren’t already wise, then it’s really hard to judge if someone else is wise or not. Maybe they are just a good talker. Trusting someone who doesn’t have wisdom will just bring you trouble.

The best way to know who is wise is to look at the fruit of their life. After all, wisdom is the correct application of knowledge, so wise people will have good and desirable fruit. But be careful! The circumstances of life go up and down, so money, fame, and power are not reliable indicators of wisdom. If they were then Michael Jackson and Harvey Weinstein would be modern sages. Instead, the most important fruit is that of character, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Seek to be mentored by wise people who show evidence of such fruit.

Stay away from those who are considered the philosophers of our age, such as the talking heads on TV, who are constantly telling us how to live and think. Following their advice always gets us into deeper problems, so their wisdom is really foolishness. Likewise, if you want to know what kind of wisdom you have been using, look at your life. Look at the lives of your friends. Look at the lives of the talking heads you trust. Do you see good fruit or bad?

The Next Steps

If you don’t know anyone who is wise, you can study two wise books that I have reviewed

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Please leave your comments below.


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2 Responses

  1. Garrett says:

    This is really insightful. Like the old timers always say, “you can’t put a price on wisdom”. Life is just so much easier when you are continuously learning from your past experiences. learning from other peoples past failures, and just living life the right way.
    But i guess that is easier said than done because its just so easy to do the wrong thing or something you have no business doing. It takes real will power and wisdom to do the right thing. I love how you break it done and gives us the real meaning of wisdom and how to get more of it. Great article, definitely going to share this on my Facebook.

    • Peter Barban says:

      Thanks! I have tried so hard to teach my daughter wisdom; she stated out so smart and yet so foolish. Recently, I taught her not to idealize her father, for even I have made some compromises. 

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