Wisdom wants you to discover it, but you will need intention, effort, discipline and time to do so. As you dust off the celebrations of seeing out 2013 and wipe your eyes to clear a vision for 2014, here’s a short self-assessment for you based on the work of Staudinger, Sowarka, Maciel and Baltes (Subjective theories of wisdom and the Berlin Wisdom Theory 1997) where their research presents four key dimensions of wisdom.
1. Exceptional knowledge about wisdom acquisition
To what extent have you gained an understanding of the nature of the human experience?
To what extent do you try to learn from your own experiences and in particular, from your mistakes?
2. Exceptional knowledge about use of wisdom
To what extent do you know when to give or withhold advice?
To what extent are you a person whose advice one would solicit for life problems?
3. Exceptional knowledge about context of life
To what extent do you understand and accept that life priorities may change during the life course?
To what extent have you realised and acted upon possible conflicts among different areas of your life?
4. Exceptional personality and social functioning
To what extent are you a good listener?
To what extent are you a very humane person?
In the Handbook of Positive Psychology edited by Snyder and Lopez, there’s a chapter on Wisdom by Baltes, Gluck and Kunzmann where they very eloquently write that wisdom is “the hidden treasure of old age.”
Although it may be true (and there is a lot of supporting evidence to suggest it is) that wisdom does indeed come more likely in older age, I’m convinced, that having the intention, from whatever age, to seek wisdom, places you well ahead of those who don’t have that intention, to living a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life.
Set one of your intentions this year to seek wisdom and I hope that the questions above will help you better understand the constructs of wisdom, to help you seek it out more easily, and to use your wisdom to positively impact your own life and the lives of others within your various life roles.