These are the words of wisdom I wish I knew when I was younger. Feel free to skip the introduction by clicking on this interlink: 11 Wise Lessons. What’s the difference between intelligence and wisdom? Personally, I associate intelligence not only with the utilization of knowledge to find solutions to tricky problems, but also with the capacity for abstract thought or the comprehension of complex issues. Wisdom on the other hand appears to be entirely different than everything intelligence stands for. It is much more intuitive, rather than based on pure logic as intelligence mostly is.
I’m a fairly young person, so why do I think I have any important wisdoms or wise lessons about life to share at all? “Is he that self-opinionated?” one might think. During my life I had the very honorable experience of getting in touch with a huge variety of people, from all different kinds of backgrounds. I’ve talked to the elderly and the young, had discussions with people that were about to die as well as those who lost a beloved one. But many – if not most – of the wisdoms and lessons I would like to share with you came from my personal experience, for instance from the time when my life was hanging by a thread – the time I had hit rock bottom.
I am, however, not perfect and all-knowing, which is why I would like to invite you to share your wisdom in the comment section below. Everyone has important wisdoms for life to share, don’t be shy and tell us about your wise lessons! I will integrate your statement into this article when time permits.
The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.
Solomon Ibn Gabriol
Before we get to the interesting part of this article, I think it might be helpful to define what wisdom really is.
Wikipedia describes Wisdom as “a deep understanding [ … ] resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action.“
Wisdom is difficult to teach. The intelligent can learn, comprehend, understand and meet rational decisions based on logic. A wise person knows out of experience. It is the inner knowing what to do in a given situation. In some cases, the decision that is met appears to be irrational, but more often than not it turns out to be the right thing to do. The wise person knows from within, supported by the insights gained from a reflective disposition.
Wisdom of Life
… and the essential wisdom to be prepared for life. Doesn’t it all revolve around the question: What is important to you in life? Maybe you have already a definite answer to the question – in which case I would like to congratulate you. But if not, I hope the important virtues of wisdom and the many lessons in life that I’m sharing with you will inspire you when deciding what is important to you. I’m also including quotes of wisdom or wisdom sayings to each of the following essential lessons of life:
#1 There’s a lesson to be learned in everything you experience
On every thorn, delightful wisdom grows.
In every rill a sweet instruction flows.
Everything you undergo teaches you a lesson. The question is: Do you have the courage to discover what lesson was taught? Are you brave enough to make use of the wisdom you gained?
Life can be really tough, especially in times of coping with setbacks and failures. But I know from experience: everything that happens teaches a lesson – whether you like the lection or not. Often, it took me months to let go of the (ego-based) grief, self-pity and anger about what had happened. But once that work was done it gave way to a reflective approach of discovering the valuable insights and wisdoms that were taught.
Remember that this process takes a lot of time. Wise lessons might not immediately catch your attention, but they will come as very profound realizations once you are ready to comprehend them. With the insight that time provides, you will be able to accept the situation and be courageous enough to let go of anger and bitterness. Only then, with an impartial point of view, profound but wise lessons can be drawn from the things that happened to you, hence increasing your knowledge about the important wisdom about life.
#2 Happiness comes from within
People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
No one is in charge of your happiness but you. No one has the responsibility to make you happy. It is a very common misconception to believe things that lie outside of ourselves can make us happy. If you ask an unhappy person what it would take to make them happier, they will most likely enumerate the many (material) things that lie beyond their grasp. What they do not realize is the profound wisdom that true happiness comes from within. People think abundance can make them happy. We associate the possession of luxurious cars, big mansions and the many other tangibles this materialistic world has to offer with happiness.
But the reality is: If you aren’t able to appreciate what you already have, you will never be able to be truly and profoundly happy for a longer period of time, even if all your material wishes came true. It is the wisdom that comes from personal experience that has shown many people that one will never be fully satisfied by the accumulation of fancy tangibles.
If you make your happiness dependent on external influences, you set up a barrier that prevents you from discovering the happiness that lies within you. In such a case, you would be trying to fill an emptiness within you that cannot be filled with things from the outside.
#3 Anger is self-destructive
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Anger is destructive in nature. It makes people forget all the good qualities that characterize them as human beings. Anger turns people into instinct driven animals that are blinded by their aggression. And in this state of being it so happens that we tend to do evil things we painfully regret later. Retrospectively I would say that by holding on to anger, I harmed myself the most. The very wise lesson stated by Buddha brings it to the point: Your anger and hatred will hurt you the most, which is quite an important wisdom for life, I think.
#4 Forgiveness will set you free, but revenge not
The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.
Forgiveness is the characteristic of the strong. It really takes a lot of strength to forgive and to let go of the hurt. The alternative to forgiving is vengeance, but it will not help you to reduce the pain. Revenge – to me – is simply not the right way to let go of the emotional baggage I carry around when someone hurt me. In the end, the realization prevails that there’s no difference between you and the person that hurt you, if you opt for revenge. The process of forgiving is essential to be able to let go of the hurt. Forgiveness can set you free. It can help you in releasing the built-up resentment and the emotional baggage you carry around. Life is too short to waste your time with hatred.
#5 Regret is more painful than failure
Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’
John Greenleaf Whittier
Throughout our lives we are mostly worried about things that won’t happen anyway. We are afraid of failure, when in reality the regret about not having tried can be by far more painful than failure in itself. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you prefer to laugh about all the awkward failures you’ve experienced or to regret all the missed opportunities you rejected out of fear of failure. To me, failure is an inevitable aspect in my life. A “challenge” if you so want that I will have to face every once in a while. With it comes the realization and wisdom that the only fool-proof way to avoid any kind of failure is to not try at all. The attempt to avoid failure at any cost – by not trying – is an irreversible mistake, which I regard as the worst failure of all.
The most common regrets of the dying:
- I wish I hadn’t spend so much time working
- I wish I had stayed in contact with my friends/family
- I wish I had spend more time with my children
- I wish I hadn’t tried to please everyone
- I wish I’d had the courage to express what I was feeling
#6 Money is just paper with numbers on
How strange is it, that a fool or knave, with riches, should be treated with more respect by the world, than a good man, or a wise man in poverty.
I think most of us will agree that money is essential to survive in this modern world. It takes no wisdom or really wise lesson to realize that. We all need enough money to support our living, to afford housing and to feed our families. The question is, do you really want to coordinate your whole life to the one and only goal of acquiring as much money as possible? Do you really want to stuff your life with gadgets and other things you won’t really need anyways? Money is nothing more than a lot of coins and notes with numbers on. It doesn’t buy you happiness; it doesn’t buy you time that was lost and it will not take care of you when you are in need. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
The pearls of wisdom I’ve drawn from my experience is that no matter if you’re a billionaire or broke, at the point of death you’ll lose all your money and tangibles, but no one can take the wonderful experiences you carry in your heart.
#7 Other people’s mistakes are lessons for you, too
A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.
When I was a child I sometimes had the feeling that my parents “punished” me for mistakes others committed. When someone did something very stupid, you can bet that I got a lecture about it as well. Nowadays, I know better of course. They taught me to learn from other people’s mistakes, even though I did not realize that for a very long time. I believe that even though we learn a lot more from our own mistakes, learning from other people’s mistakes helps us to stay out of a lot of trouble. There’s an old saying, “Learn from other people’s mistakes, because you don’t have time to make them all yourself” – and it perfectly fits here.
#8 Bending over backwards will break your spine
Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
What other people think of you should be none of your business. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and you cannot change what others think of you anyways. Take notice of criticism and be thankful for feedback, but think about how much emphasis you want to put onto what other people think of you. The moment you begin to bend over backwards for others, by trying to please everyone, you will lose much of your integrity; it will figuratively break your spine. You can put a mask on in order to influence what other people think about you, but sooner or later though, they will get a glimpse of what lies behind. Stay true to yourself and there is nothing for you to regret. If you spend all your time seeking validation, gaining respect and approval from others, then you’ll eventually forget who you really are.
Another wise lesson I had to learn the hard way is that every person is on a different journey - in terms of their personal and spiritual development but also in regards to the level of knowledge and wisdom they have acquired so far. With this wisdom comes the realization that you will not be able to force them to go down a specific path. Convincing them of doing so, or trying to change someone’s opinion who has already made up his mind is a waste of your energy. Eventually, they will discover this path/knowledge for themselves.
#9 Connecting with yourself is worthwhile (above anything else)
The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart.
People externalize because they have no trust in themselves. Instead of taking responsibility by taking action they wait for someone else to do it for them. It is the underlying foundation of many people’s lives. It suggests them that they need guru’s or pastors to show them the right way, politicians to fix their society’s problems and even higher powers to save them from other miseries. Obviously, this leaves a lot of room for manipulation by those who are entrusted with this power and unfortunately, many people’s high expectations are painfully disappointed more often than not.
Develop a healthy trust in yourself and take responsibility for your life, if you do not want to make your whole life dependent on others. Connect with the inner wisdom that is within you, instead of waiting for others to impose their “truths” upon you. People seek for answers to their inexplicable questions outside of themselves, when in reality they can find all the answers within themselves and might already know the answers to some of these questions. Get to know who you really are and practice the skill of listening to your intuition, or as many term it: learn to listen to your heart.
#10 Discovering your life’s purpose will give you a meaning
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
Your life has a purpose. If you had no purpose, you wouldn’t be alive. It’s as simple as that. The difficulty really lies in discovering that life’s purpose, which takes a lot of reflection, thinking and experience. I also believe that a person’s life purpose can change as one gets older. The purpose of your life might have a lot do to with your passions, and if you seek for the works where you put your whole heart into, you might find some important hints as to what your purpose could be.
#11 Making the best of every situation leads to your triumph
Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
There are elements in our lives that we can neither change nor influence. I’ve come to the realization that every person on this planet carries a burden on their shoulder, from health-related problems, poverty, strokes of fate to problems with their relatives or partners. And with this realization comes the wise lesson that you may not be able to change certain aspects of your life, but you can always make the best of it. All it takes is acceptance about the situation you find yourself in and the courage to discover the new opportunities that present themselves.
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