Sunday, March 15, 2009

Curious about Wisdom: How Do We Achieve It? Or Can We? How Important Is It?

Definition of Wisdom: The quality of being wise; knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity. The results of wise judgments; scientific or practical truth; acquired knowledge; erudition.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucius, Chinese philosopher

In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it - thou art a fool.” - Lord Chesterfield, British statesman

I chose “Wisdom” for this week’s theme because I feel, as a Senior, I should be wise. Not only because of my years of living, but also because I have filled those years with reading, studying, taking courses, attending seminars, and learning from a plethora of experiences. However, I don’t feel that I am wise. As in the words of the Greek philosopher, Socrates, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

What I do know is that as I have matured in age, I have become willing to try new endeavors, to take more risks, to listen to advice – and not take it if my heart and gut say not to – to make more mistakes and to experience more failures that eventually lead to successes.

And, even though I have formed strong opinions over the years, I am hesitant to expect others to take my advice without applying their own wisdom to it. As I hope all of you will as you read the variety of quotations that I am share – there were dozens!

General thoughts about wisdom:
  • Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” - David Starr Jordan, American writer
  • The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” - H. L. Mencken, American writer
  • The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” - William James, American philosopher
  • Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet
  • Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” - Alfred Lord Tennyson, English poet
  • He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom.” - James Huneker, American writer

A few with a different twist:

  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” - Elbert Hubbard, American writer
  • Some folks are wise and some are otherwise.” - Tobias Smollett, Scottish writer
  • Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.” - Doug Larson, American cartoonist
  • He who devotes sixteen hours a day to hard study may become at sixty as wise as he thought himself at twenty.” - Mary Wilson Little, American writer
  • Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.” - Theodore Roosevelt, American President
  • Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” - Tom Wilson, American cartoonist

And the two that I like the best:

Patience is the companion of wisdom.” - Saint Augustine, Roman Saint

Wisdom outweighs any wealth.” – Sophocles, Greek poet

So, how do you visualize wisdom? Let me hear from you.