What *IS* Wisdom?

“Wisdom is one of the grandest and oddest words out there, so lofty it doesn’t sound like something one could ever consciously strive to be. Nevertheless, it deserves to be an aspiration.”

Alain de Botton

“Wisdom is one of those qualities that is difficult to define—because it encompasses so much—but which people generally recognize when they encounter it.”

Psychology Today

What Is Wisdom?

A definition cannot be distilled into a single sentence, or a few bullets. To understand it, it is as important to understand what it is not, as opposed to what it is. Below are several of the most helpful encapsulations of both.

“What are the components of wisdom? Wisdom encompasses cognitive components, such as knowledge and experience, reflective components, or the ability to examine situations and oneself, and prosocial components, meaning benevolence and compassion. Wisdom is connected to abilities such as perspective-taking, open-mindedness, and humility.”

Psychology Today

“We believe having access to more information produces more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true — more and more information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.”

Maria Popova

“Without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough. A wise person is like a jazz musician — using the notes on the page, but dancing around them, inventing combinations that are appropriate for the situation and the people at hand. A wise person is made and not born.”

Barry Schwartz

“Knowledge is about overcoming ignorance. Wisdom is about overcoming foolishness. So you understand wisdom by understanding foolishness, and you understand foolishness as not identical to ignorance.”

John Vervaeke

“Wisdom is one’s knowledge of what is true and real, one’s good judgment, and the ability to learn from one’s experiences and mistakes.”

Better Help

Finding & Cultivating Wisdom

Where to Find, and How to Cultivate, Wisdom?

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