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  • Writer's pictureRyan Luby

Young and wise

Something I spent a lot of time thinking about was why do people designate wisdom as a trait only old people have? How do the old people get wise? Why is it unlikely for a young person to be wise?

Thankfully smarter people than me have looked into this also so I was helped along in my search.

If you think about what makes someone wise, at first you will state obviously it is experience. Older people are more likely to be wise because they have more experience.

If you believe this, you will conclude old people are wise because they have more experience and young people are not wise because they don’t have enough.

But there is an issue, experience is a component of wisdom.. but it’s not enough.

So I had to think if there were old people who aren’t wise?

People with ample experience, interesting and valuable experience who have not developed wisdom. And of course there are.

So experience doesn’t equal wisdom, it’s just one part of it.

Understanding that lack of experience isn’t the answer.. why aren’t young people wise even though they have experiences too?

What were you doing in your 20s? Or maybe it’s more fitting to ask what weren’t you doing?

I’m sure you had great experiences, but you were running around constantly doing different things. Maybe a little overly busy, especially busy-minded, caught up in trends, still a little too self-conscious, still thinking too much about things you can’t control..

I’m also sure you were not sitting around, reflecting on those great experiences because you chose to keep yourself and your mind busy.

Considering this.. why are older people wise?

It is because most likely, as you age, you slow down a bit. Maybe not a lot, but generally enough to have more idle time. More time to be patient, more time to think, more time to reflect. You aren't as self-conscious, not worried as much about others, less busy mentally, more likely to just think. The more you reflect, the more you learn. It’s the same reason homework is effective. You learn a lesson in the classroom, and then you are required to go home and practice what you learned so you can reflect on the earlier lesson. That reflection turns a math lesson, into knowledge. Reflecting on experience turns experience into wisdom.

Wisdom isn’t a trait saved only for the elderly. It is a skill that is cultivated from making thoughtful reflection on past experiences, a daily practice.

If you have been subscribed to Grow long enough you have probably heard a similar lesson before.. but I am endlessly interested in people’s choice to keep living without reflection. To just act, mindlessly over and over.

You might think it’s harmless… but it’s not.

Wisdom isn’t just something valuable so you can tell your grandkids life lessons while they sit on your knee some day..

Wisdom, is something that keeps a young child raised in the ghetto from perpetuating crime in his own life.

Wisdom, allows young parents to kick out bad habits that their parents instilled in them. In order to live their life their own way and raise their own children, their own way.

Wisdom, allows a new generation of people to live their lives without drugs, alcoholism, and divorce even though they were raised from a generation where drugs, alcoholism, and divorce were commonplace.

Wisdom is not going around pretending you know everything, and forcing advice down someones throat, trying to tell them you know what they need, and trying to control others. It's learning from experience, and always being skeptical when you feel you have everything figured out.

You don’t have to be perfect, and make all the right choices to become wise.. you just need to practice reflecting on your experiences, and learn constantly from that reflection.

Don’t continue doing anything mindlessly.

Be thoughtful

Practice wisdom

Learn more on this:

Post: Prepare for the day ahead, reflect on the day that passed

Post: Get rich quick

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