Why You Need Wisdom And How To Be (More) Wise—According To Science

Why You Need Wisdom And How To Be (More) Wise—According To Science

via Forbes by Tracy Brower

Popular belief suggests we gain wisdom through life experience—and with everything we’ve been through over the past year, we should all be brilliant sages, scholars and savants. But interestingly, wisdom has depth and nuance that is worth understanding—because it can be developed. Perhaps most importantly, it can be put to good use in our work and lives: making decisions, sustaining success and reinforcing relationships.

Wisdom isn’t reserved only for the elderly or the aged. Contrary to popular opinion, anyone can be wise based on their characteristics and skills—not just their years of experience. It’s more typical for the wise to be more senior, but it’s not a prerequisite.

In addition, wisdom tends to be correlated with less loneliness and it is also related to our biology. In a fascinating new study from the University of California, San Diego, researchers found a healthy gut microbiome (characterized by phylogenetic richness and diversity) was associated with higher levels of wisdom as well as compassion and engagement. Wow.

Wisdom is more than just knowledge, of course. It is the application of knowledge and the discernment that comes from perspective. This saying sums it up well, “Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing when to say it.” Knowledge is required for wisdom. After all, you must have a foundation on which to build. But it’s possible to have knowledge—book smarts or awareness of something—without the judgement that goes along with how to use it.

Why You Need Wisdom

There are plenty of reasons you need wisdom—and the first reasons are happiness and fulfillment. When you make wise decisions, you keep your immediate needs in mind, along with holding long-term perspectives. This is key to making choices that bring you joy. In addition, wisdom allows you to make better contributions to your community by balancing your needs and boundaries with those of others.  

Wise people also pave the way toward greater fulfillment in their work because they can discern the best way to handle everything from relationships with colleagues to judgements about their customers—all important to effectiveness at work.

Developing Wisdom

Previous research from the University of California, San Diego, makes it fairly straightforward to understand, build and develop wisdom. There are five key elements…

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