Recognizing wisdom is a matter of observation. Life is seldom tidy and learning occurs at the edges when we may least expect it. Learning often occurs when we least expect it: a defeat, an act of compassion, a note of love.
Recognizing wisdom is a matter of choice. It comes from within us. We decide to keep our minds open so that we give it proper attention when we experience a learning moment. Easy to say, certainly, but hard to implement because we are so wrapped up in the bustle of our own lives that we ignore the obvious.
The sheltering our pandemic has induced has made it easier to pay attention. Our public lives are limited; we are closed off from the broader commerce of the world. We stay in touch via electronic media, but we remain rooted to our same location. That forced isolation creates an opportunity—not altogether welcome—to observe our surroundings. After all, there is not much else to do.
Smell the flowers, yes. But make time to breathe. Listen to the air going in. And out. Discipline yourself to notice what you have not seen before. Pause for effect, not just for others but for yourself.
Implementing wisdom may be a harder nut for the reason that a good lesson requires change. As we so often hear, change is good, as long as it does not affect us personally. Adopting a new lesson is personal, a commitment to think differently, to do differently. Overcoming our shortcomings requires work to form new habits: physical (diet, exercise, rest), mental (modes of thought), and spiritual (purposeful reframing).
Acting on wisdom
How do we act on wisdom?
Work hard to understand yourself.
Attend to what you have observed.
Do not fear your shortcomings.
Use them as your guides to move forward.
Take heart from your failures.
Gain lessons from your mistakes.
Forgive yourself so you can forgive others.
Demonstrate kindness to yourself as a means of expressing kindness to others.
Practice, practice, practice.
“A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values,” wrote Marcus Aurelius in Meditations. When you value learning and the company of others who share the same value, wisdom will accompany you.
One step, one lesson, at a time.