Learn to Put Wisdom to Practice
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Solomon … these are probably the people who come to mind when you think about wisdom. They were the men who lived philosophy on a daily basis and breathed wisdom every moment of the day.
For some people, wisdom is nothing more than stringing some awesome words together and making an inspiring phrase. But wisdom is our understanding of life, and if we don’t use it to improve our lives, we do ourselves a disservice.
Don’t romanticize wisdom, learn to put it to practice.
So What is Wisdom, Anyway?
Apparently, there is a debate as to the definition of wisdom. I guess that’s because it seems to be an abstract concept.
Wisdom is one of those qualities difficult to define—because it encompasses so much—but which people generally recognize when they encounter it. And it is encountered most obviously in the realm of decision-making.
Psychologists tend to agree that wisdom involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. ~Psychology Today
Here are some of Merriam-Webster’s definitions:
- Accumulated philosophical or scientific learning: knowledge
- The ability to discern: insight
- Good sense: judgment
- The teachings of the ancient wise men
- Dictionary.com says that wisdom is “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”
So I don’t see where the debate comes in because essentially, these all lead to the same idea. And we do know that it’s something we acquire over time.
Slightly different are the next two definitions:
The Bible says that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And the great philosopher Aristotle said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
No matter which definition you consider, none of these things are handed to you at birth, and they certainly don’t come naturally with age, as people believe. It comes from living and experience, from a life of mindfulness.
And How Do You Put Wisdom to Practice?
Wisdom is a great tool, but it can be made to be nothing more than a philosophical theory if you don’t put it to practice.
Most people only want wisdom in inspiring quotes, because putting it to practice takes work, effort, self awareness and development, and all that mindful stuff. But one of the greatest aspects of life is growing.
Self growth is in our very foundation; the life stages from conception to conclusion (death), we grow, develop, expand. So it’s only fitting that in order to put wisdom to practice, one must be willing and working to grow.
Ways to Put Wisdom to Practice
1. Practice Self Awareness and Mindfulness
An unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates
If you don’t see value in knowing and understanding yourself, clearly you’re going to have a hard time with this.
Self awareness is the ability to see things about you as they are, not as you wish they were. You can’t practice much growth if you don’t know where you are.
2. Identify Specific Lessons Learned
You will make a lot of mistakes which range from small bloopers in your day to day practice, to major ones that can significantly impact your life.
While the minor mistakes may seem irrelevant, learning from them can make a big difference overall.
Whenever you have a negative or bad experience, especially if it’s caused by some action on your part, identify what lesson you learned from it.
For instance, instead of saying I’ll never do that again, specify what that is. It’ll be easier for you to remember the lesson and use it as a reference point.
3. Use Lessons Learned as Reference Points
Sometimes, we’re so hard headed that it takes going through the same issues over and over in order to finally learn the lesson.
But it really doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, it can be an opportunity to gain more control of your life.
Those mistakes you made … they are super valuable. Once you’ve identified the lessons you learned through your mistakes, use each one as a reference point to remind yourself that you’ve already been there, done that.
If it helps, keep a journal. Not of the mistakes you made but the lessons you extracted from the situation.
4. Identify Actionable Steps for Change
As with anything related to personal development, it helps when you can have a clear view and understanding of the steps you should take.
For example, when you read a great quote and it strikes you as a wise thought, think about ways you can apply it to your life.
Think of the wiser people in your life and try to apply some of their wisdom with small actionable steps.
Things will stay the same until we learn what we need to change. ~Jay Shetty
Wisdom in Practice Changes your Behavior and Improves Your Life
The bottom line is that wisdom without practice is worthless. But if you learn to apply it, you will change your behavior and improve your life.
I happen to think that everyone has some insight to share, not meaning that every person is wise (definitely not). But I believe that because we each experience life in a unique way, we acquire varying levels of understanding and sagacity.
If you say you’re wise, your life should show it. If you’re always quoting the wisest men of our time, but not applying anything in your life, then all you’re doing is quoting others.
Everyone has some insight to share, so please share something in the comments below.
Here’s a related post where I compiled some wisdom quotes and how they can be put to action.