How to Gain Wisdom

Wisdom is a virtue that isn’t innate, but can only be acquired through experience. Anyone who is interested in trying new things and reflecting on the process has the ability to gain wisdom. By learning as much as you can, analyzing your experiences and putting your knowledge to the test, you can become a wiser person.

Part 1Gaining Experience

  1. Try new things. It’s hard to gain wisdom when you stay in and do the same thing day after day. You get wiser when you put yourself out there and give yourself the opportunity to learn, make mistakes and reflect on the experience.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone. If you’re afraid to do something, perhaps that’s the very thing you should try to do. When you have to deal with an awkward or scary situation, you come out on the other side better equipped to handle fear the next time you face it.
  3. Make an effort to talk to people you don’t know very well. Talk to people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives from yours, and pay attention to what you can learn from them.
  4. Be open-minded. Instead of judging things you don’t know much about, consider them from every angle and make an effort to understand. It’s easy to base our views on the limited experiences we’ve had in life, but that’s not the way to gain wisdom.

Part 2Learning from Wise People

  1. Enrich yourself with education. If you’re interested in learning something new, one of the best ways to do it is by taking a class. The classes you take can be affiliated with a university, but they don’t have to be.
  2. Find wise mentors. Who in your life strikes you as wise? Wisdom comes in many forms. It could be a pastor who gives people something important to reflect on each week. It could be a teacher who has the ability to inspire people with his or her knowledge.
  3. Read as much as you can. Reading is a way to absorb other people’s perspectives, no matter what subject they’re writing about. It gives you an insight into the way other people think that’s impossible to get in any other way.
  4. Realize that everyone is fallible. As you gain your own wisdom and experience, you’ll find that those you looked up to as mentors have their own failings. Don’t hold people to such high standards that their mistakes shock and repel you.

Part 3Putting Wisdom Into Practice

  1. Be humble in new situations. As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” It’s difficult to fully grasp this concept until you’re faced with a life situation that completely stumps you.
  2. Think before acting. Take as much time as you need to deliberate on a problem before making a decision. Think about the pros and cons, taking your experience as well as others’ advice into account, so you make the wisest possible choice.
  3. Act on your values. Looking to people, religious tenets and books for advice and wisdom will only get you so far. Don’t just accept a set of values because that’s what you were taught. Ultimately, your values should be aligned with your conscience, that gut feeling that tells you what to do based on what you know to be true.
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Even a carefully considered decision can end up being the wrong one. Each time you have a new experience, reflect on it and think about what went well and what didn’t.
  5. Share your wisdom with others. That’s not to say you should tell people what to do; rather, lead by example. Show others the wisdom of being open, nonjudgmental and thoughtful in all situations.

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