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Foolishness versus Wisdom

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Anything related to matters of the mind

Fox

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I wanted to start this thread for a while because it is a topic that fascinates me...

How can a person become wise?

I think many people have all the intelligence they need but still end up in all kinds of bad situations.
Many times I have looked at some of my own actions and thought "this was extremely foolish".

Brian Tracey has a quote about this which sums it up well..
Human beings, by nature, are lazy, greedy, ambitious, selfish, impatient, vain, and ignorant.
These traits are neither good nor bad by themselves; it is only the way in which we manifest these natural traits that make them positive or negative.
These natural traits are the fundamental reasons for why people do what they do.

I would love to see some people weigh in on this:
- do you think it is a case of being able to learn correctly from your mistakes and the mistakes of others?
- is it about being able to control short term thinking and compulsive actions?
- or is it about your values and how you interact with the world?

There is a lot of great advice around on how to create wealth but it does seem there is a lack of good resources for building true wisdom.
 
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Kybalion

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I think intelligence is the apprehension of a concept, but wisdom is the knowing.

Wisdom gets beaten in you after a stupid mistake, when you see the true value of the concept you previously just ''understood''.

For example - one can know that exercise is good for you, everyone knows that, right?

But a LOT of people ''know know'' only after they've had a health scare (or after their high-school crush went for a muscle-head jock, or whatever). Then they can actually make use of that knowledge.

So, IMO wisdom has to be earned through the hard-knocks (at least that's how it works for me - I only learn through pain).
 

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I think intelligence is the apprehension of a concept, but wisdom is the knowing.

Wisdom gets beaten in you after a stupid mistake, when you see the true value of the concept you previously just ''understood''.

For example - one can know that exercise is good for you, everyone knows that, right?

But a LOT of people ''know know'' only after they've had a health scare (or after their high-school crush went for a muscle-head jock, or whatever). Then they can actually make use of that knowledge.

So, IMO wisdom has to be earned through the hard-knocks (at least that's how it works for me - I only learn through pain).

Ya, great points.

So to build on that, how can someone very young be sometimes much wiser than someone much older?

We have all seen people who repeat the same foolish actions after years of hard lessons while others make rapid progress with very few big mistakes.

I think what also is a massive factor in wisdom is reflection. If you can think clearly over what you first thought, then what you did, and finally what happened - you can spot patterns much faster. This would be what Ray Dalio talks about in principles.
 

Kybalion

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Ya, great points.

So to build on that, how can someone very young be sometimes much wiser than someone much older?

We have all seen people who repeat the same foolish actions after years of hard lessons while others make rapid progress with very few big mistakes.

I think what also is a massive factor in wisdom is reflection. If you can think clearly over what you first thought, then what you did, and finally what happened - you can spot patterns much faster. This would be what Ray Dalio talks about in principles.

Yeah, that's certainly something to think about.

Just spitballing but could it be that some people are more sensitive?

For example - working as a construction worker would KILL me. I don't intend to sound as if I am above a job like that, but I've done it and the sounds, the smells, and the heavy weights felt like literal torture to me. So I pivoted FAST.

Because of my low pain tolerance, I was forced to look for an alternative. Then there are many others who are not bothered by manual labor, so they keep doing it forever. Not that it's inherently a mistake, but it would be a mistake in my case, because of my fragile composition.

So maybe some people are more bothered by mistakes since they feel more painful to them?

This would also explain why some people don't make mistakes at all - they're just so sensitive (or perspicacious) that they can read about a thing and they can feel how painful doing it the wrong way would be.
 
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How can a person become wise?
Read Proverbs. Apply the teachings. I'm a terrible example, but that's my answer.

If you prefer, you can substitute Proverbs for
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, or other great works from history.

Sure, the school of hard knocks is a way to (hopefully) increase wisdom. Age. Time. Reflection. Prayer. Empathy.

But there is something to be said for being teachable. So many questions that we plague ourselves with have been dealt with and addressed by those who came before us.

You can attempt to forge your own path or you can draw on the wisdom of those who came before.

Maybe spend a some time talking to grandfathers and grandmothers about life.

Be humble. Be teachable. Seek out and study wisdom from/with wise people who took/take the time to write/share their wisdom.

Oh, and if all that fails, just shut up and you might be thought of as wise, or at least not a fool.

(Yeah, I'm still working on that last one)
 

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Just spitballing but could it be that some people are more sensitive?
More intuitive. Yes. I think you're onto something there...
 

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Wisdom is the skill of decision making. You either decide to do something wise or say something wise.

But not decision making with memorization, rules and calculating...trusting others too much.

Decision making that comes from seeing clearly what is obvious in the real world. Trusting what you see with your own eyes.

You can only see clearly when you are not afraid of seeing something you don't wish to be true.

People who are unwise are typically afraid or unable of seeing or facing truth in one way or another.

People who are unwise, deep down, are cowards, or totally unable to quiet their mind enough to have any self-reflection whatsoever.

When your desire to improve is genuinely stronger than your fear of emotional discomfort, you won't be afraid of seeking truth, especially about yourself.

You can decrease your fear of emotional discomfort with exposing yourself to it. Doing things that make you emotionally uncomfortable.

I would bet my money that after doing things that make you emotionally uncomfortable, you will be less afraid of accepting hard truths that you see. You will stop lying to yourself so much. You will make better decisions of what to do and say and the things that used to guide your decisions like fear will take a back seat and let other, better things help influence your decisions.
 
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BusinessBen

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I think that taking risks is good but taking too much risk can be bad. It's important to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. That is wisdom.
 

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Let's define being wise as the definition offered by Cambridge:

having or showing the ability to make good judgments, based on a deep understanding and experience of life:

We have three things to unpack here:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

3. How to gain experience of life?

Let's go through these one by one:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

Based on your post, you'd define good judgments as decisions that help you avoid bad situations. More specifically, bad situations are in this case problems you have because of your foolish actions. (You can also end up in bad situations involuntarily but these are beyond what we're talking about).

So now we're talking about foolish actions. What are they? From my perspective, foolish actions are usually caused by emotional decision-making.
  • Let's dive into this unknown body of water and risk ending up in a wheelchair for life because I need to impress my friends (emotion: pride).
  • Let's invest in this new crypto project because everyone else is and I don't want to miss out (emotion: fear).
  • Let's insult a waitress because you have a bad day and she can't even remember your order (emotion: anger).
So what's the solution here? Learn emotional control. I think that studying and cultivating Stoicism is by far the best option here. I wrote an article on how to deal with strong emotions here:


In this article, I cover 11 ways you can gain more emotional control. The foundation is this, though:

A Stoic steps back from their emotions to regain control and respond calmly. A person unaccustomed to dealing with emotional discomfort lets these feelings run amok and makes a bad situation worse.

You'll eliminate a lot of foolish decisions if you always take a step back and cool down before doing anything.

Some foolish actions are also caused by a lack of thought and/or planning. For example, you can avoid a lot of problems by not going into the worst part of town at night, or ever. Yet, some people still do that and end up getting robbed.

This brings us to the second point.

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

The example above of not going to the worst part of town is a timeless rule of wise people. It's very simple to follow it to avoid ending up in bad situations: just don't F*cking go to the worst part of town, end of story.

There are a lot of practical rules of life that can help you avoid being foolish. For example:
  • Never make any large purchases the same day you come up with the idea to buy it.
  • Avoid people if you have a bad day and feel like you're about to explode (to avoid venting on them).
  • Criticize in private, praise in public.
  • Don't borrow money to finance your wants.
  • Don't take on any new obligations before you consider them carefully.
  • Don't drink (or take any other drugs) and drive, ever.
  • Leave super early for any important meeting. It's better to be way too early than even a minute late.
And how do you gain this understanding of life? IMO, it comes down to:
  • Reading books - philosophy for general wisdom and then domain-specific books for avoiding foolish decisions in specific areas of life (for example business books to avoid stupid business decisions or relationship books to avoid stupid relationship mistakes). Autobiographies are also great for that as long as an author is honest with their mistakes.
  • Studying the mistakes of other people, friends, family, or strangers. Listen when they tell you their stories. Ask questions to figure out what led them to such a decision. Figure out how you can make sure you won't repeat their mistake. I also recommend making friends with older people. As a guy in his thirties, I like talking with people over 40 because they usually have a more mature view on things.
  • Learning from your own mistakes and setting rules for the future that you'll follow no matter what. For example, a long time ago I lost money on sports betting. I vowed to never again, under any circumstances, place any bets, even for fun (because I have an addictive personality and could end up in BIG trouble). I haven't placed a single bet since then.
  • Self-reflection - journaling, contemplating your choices, creating your list of values, seeking the ugly truth about yourself and facing it. Some people do it through meditation, others through going on a walk by themselves, others by wild camping, others by yoga, etc. Doesn't matter what it is, just find a way to be with your thoughts without always distracting yourself with podcasts, music, etc. I think that's a big one that many people in today's world don't ever do. The default is to always do something. Few people spend time with their thoughts.
3. How to gain experience of life?

The third point is about experience. Now, obviously you always gain experience as you age. But some people gain more experience and some less.

From my perspective, you can gain experience faster in the following ways:
  • Try as many new things as possible. Each new interaction, skill, environment, etc. you explore will help you gain more experience that will help you make better decisions.
  • Keep your mind open. Don't be afraid to change your opinion. Seek out opinions different than yours. Don't be dogmatic. Don't blindly follow any philosophy or religion - just take the best parts for yourself.
  • Seek discomfort. Doing stuff that's hard, scary, or uncomfortable will teach you emotional control. By definition, uncomfortable things are things that are unknown to us. So this way you learn something new and develop more wisdom in what was previously an unfamiliar field to you.
Note that even with all the above you'll ALWAYS make foolish decisions at times. We're all imperfect. Even if we have a perfect wisdom-building system, we'll always make mistakes. The goal is to reduce the number of foolish decisions as much as you can. The low-hanging fruit alone (like emotional control) can cut out the majority of bad decisions so I'd start with that.
 

Odysseus M Jones

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Let's define being wise as the definition offered by Cambridge:



We have three things to unpack here:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

3. How to gain experience of life?

Let's go through these one by one:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

Based on your post, you'd define good judgments as decisions that help you avoid bad situations. More specifically, bad situations are in this case problems you have because of your foolish actions. (You can also end up in bad situations involuntarily but these are beyond what we're talking about).

So now we're talking about foolish actions. What are they? From my perspective, foolish actions are usually caused by emotional decision-making.
  • Let's dive into this unknown body of water and risk ending up in a wheelchair for life because I need to impress my friends (emotion: pride).
  • Let's invest in this new crypto project because everyone else is and I don't want to miss out (emotion: fear).
  • Let's insult a waitress because you have a bad day and she can't even remember your order (emotion: anger).
So what's the solution here? Learn emotional control. I think that studying and cultivating Stoicism is by far the best option here. I wrote an article on how to deal with strong emotions here:


In this article, I cover 11 ways you can gain more emotional control. The foundation is this, though:



You'll eliminate a lot of foolish decisions if you always take a step back and cool down before doing anything.

Some foolish actions are also caused by a lack of thought and/or planning. For example, you can avoid a lot of problems by not going into the worst part of town at night, or ever. Yet, some people still do that and end up getting robbed.

This brings us to the second point.

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

The example above of not going to the worst part of town is a timeless rule of wise people. It's very simple to follow it to avoid ending up in bad situations: just don't F*cking go to the worst part of town, end of story.

There are a lot of practical rules of life that can help you avoid being foolish. For example:
  • Never make any large purchases the same day you come up with the idea to buy it.
  • Avoid people if you have a bad day and feel like you're about to explode (to avoid venting on them).
  • Criticize in private, praise in public.
  • Don't borrow money to finance your wants.
  • Don't take on any new obligations before you consider them carefully.
  • Don't drink (or take any other drugs) and drive, ever.
  • Leave super early for any important meeting. It's better to be way too early than even a minute late.
And how do you gain this understanding of life? IMO, it comes down to:
  • Reading books - philosophy for general wisdom and then domain-specific books for avoiding foolish decisions in specific areas of life (for example business books to avoid stupid business decisions or relationship books to avoid stupid relationship mistakes). Autobiographies are also great for that as long as an author is honest with their mistakes.
  • Studying the mistakes of other people, friends, family, or strangers. Listen when they tell you their stories. Ask questions to figure out what led them to such a decision. Figure out how you can make sure you won't repeat their mistake. I also recommend making friends with older people. As a guy in his thirties, I like talking with people over 40 because they usually have a more mature view on things.
  • Learning from your own mistakes and setting rules for the future that you'll follow no matter what. For example, a long time ago I lost money on sports betting. I vowed to never again, under any circumstances, place any bets, even for fun (because I have an addictive personality and could end up in BIG trouble). I haven't placed a single bet since then.
  • Self-reflection - journaling, contemplating your choices, creating your list of values, seeking the ugly truth about yourself and facing it. Some people do it through meditation, others through going on a walk by themselves, others by wild camping, others by yoga, etc. Doesn't matter what it is, just find a way to be with your thoughts without always distracting yourself with podcasts, music, etc. I think that's a big one that many people in today's world don't ever do. The default is to always do something. Few people spend time with their thoughts.
3. How to gain experience of life?

The third point is about experience. Now, obviously you always gain experience as you age. But some people gain more experience and some less.

From my perspective, you can gain experience faster in the following ways:
  • Try as many new things as possible. Each new interaction, skill, environment, etc. you explore will help you gain more experience that will help you make better decisions.
  • Keep your mind open. Don't be afraid to change your opinion. Seek out opinions different than yours. Don't be dogmatic. Don't blindly follow any philosophy or religion - just take the best parts for yourself.
  • Seek discomfort. Doing stuff that's hard, scary, or uncomfortable will teach you emotional control. By definition, uncomfortable things are things that are unknown to us. So this way you learn something new and develop more wisdom in what was previously an unfamiliar field to you.
Note that even with all the above you'll ALWAYS make foolish decisions at times. We're all imperfect. Even if we have a perfect wisdom-building system, we'll always make mistakes. The goal is to reduce the number of foolish decisions as much as you can. The low-hanging fruit alone (like emotional control) can cut out the majority of bad decisions so I'd start with that.
That's all very nice.

But how do you explain owls?
 
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Btw… I don’t think foolishness is the opposite of wisdom @Fox. I’m not sure what is, but imagine a child or innocent who’s not lived much. They’re not wise, but they don’t have to be foolish.

I presume you’re trying to get wiser. Can you give examples of what you think of as wise?

My idea of wise is being able to make a large difference with a few words or actions well delivered. It’s like having lots of micro-scripts and knowing what situations you can apply them to.

Like Blaise Brosnan giving a workshop and someone asks what could be a tricky question. He has this uncanny knack of saying a one liner that makes everything clearer and simpler to who he’s speaking to. Like “You can’t invoice for input.”

I’m also reminded of that story of the engineer who walks the factory, has a think, and hits a pipe once to get all the machines working again.

What’s your personal idea of wise @Fox?

What are you trying to do more of and/or less of?

Who would you aspire to be more like, and why?
 

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BizyDad

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Let's define being wise as the definition offered by Cambridge:



We have three things to unpack here:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

3. How to gain experience of life?

Let's go through these one by one:

1. What are good judgments and foolish actions?

Based on your post, you'd define good judgments as decisions that help you avoid bad situations. More specifically, bad situations are in this case problems you have because of your foolish actions. (You can also end up in bad situations involuntarily but these are beyond what we're talking about).

So now we're talking about foolish actions. What are they? From my perspective, foolish actions are usually caused by emotional decision-making.
  • Let's dive into this unknown body of water and risk ending up in a wheelchair for life because I need to impress my friends (emotion: pride).
  • Let's invest in this new crypto project because everyone else is and I don't want to miss out (emotion: fear).
  • Let's insult a waitress because you have a bad day and she can't even remember your order (emotion: anger).
So what's the solution here? Learn emotional control. I think that studying and cultivating Stoicism is by far the best option here. I wrote an article on how to deal with strong emotions here:


In this article, I cover 11 ways you can gain more emotional control. The foundation is this, though:



You'll eliminate a lot of foolish decisions if you always take a step back and cool down before doing anything.

Some foolish actions are also caused by a lack of thought and/or planning. For example, you can avoid a lot of problems by not going into the worst part of town at night, or ever. Yet, some people still do that and end up getting robbed.

This brings us to the second point.

2. How to gain a deep understanding of life?

The example above of not going to the worst part of town is a timeless rule of wise people. It's very simple to follow it to avoid ending up in bad situations: just don't F*cking go to the worst part of town, end of story.

There are a lot of practical rules of life that can help you avoid being foolish. For example:
  • Never make any large purchases the same day you come up with the idea to buy it.
  • Avoid people if you have a bad day and feel like you're about to explode (to avoid venting on them).
  • Criticize in private, praise in public.
  • Don't borrow money to finance your wants.
  • Don't take on any new obligations before you consider them carefully.
  • Don't drink (or take any other drugs) and drive, ever.
  • Leave super early for any important meeting. It's better to be way too early than even a minute late.
And how do you gain this understanding of life? IMO, it comes down to:
  • Reading books - philosophy for general wisdom and then domain-specific books for avoiding foolish decisions in specific areas of life (for example business books to avoid stupid business decisions or relationship books to avoid stupid relationship mistakes). Autobiographies are also great for that as long as an author is honest with their mistakes.
  • Studying the mistakes of other people, friends, family, or strangers. Listen when they tell you their stories. Ask questions to figure out what led them to such a decision. Figure out how you can make sure you won't repeat their mistake. I also recommend making friends with older people. As a guy in his thirties, I like talking with people over 40 because they usually have a more mature view on things.
  • Learning from your own mistakes and setting rules for the future that you'll follow no matter what. For example, a long time ago I lost money on sports betting. I vowed to never again, under any circumstances, place any bets, even for fun (because I have an addictive personality and could end up in BIG trouble). I haven't placed a single bet since then.
  • Self-reflection - journaling, contemplating your choices, creating your list of values, seeking the ugly truth about yourself and facing it. Some people do it through meditation, others through going on a walk by themselves, others by wild camping, others by yoga, etc. Doesn't matter what it is, just find a way to be with your thoughts without always distracting yourself with podcasts, music, etc. I think that's a big one that many people in today's world don't ever do. The default is to always do something. Few people spend time with their thoughts.
3. How to gain experience of life?

The third point is about experience. Now, obviously you always gain experience as you age. But some people gain more experience and some less.

From my perspective, you can gain experience faster in the following ways:
  • Try as many new things as possible. Each new interaction, skill, environment, etc. you explore will help you gain more experience that will help you make better decisions.
  • Keep your mind open. Don't be afraid to change your opinion. Seek out opinions different than yours. Don't be dogmatic. Don't blindly follow any philosophy or religion - just take the best parts for yourself.
  • Seek discomfort. Doing stuff that's hard, scary, or uncomfortable will teach you emotional control. By definition, uncomfortable things are things that are unknown to us. So this way you learn something new and develop more wisdom in what was previously an unfamiliar field to you.
Note that even with all the above you'll ALWAYS make foolish decisions at times. We're all imperfect. Even if we have a perfect wisdom-building system, we'll always make mistakes. The goal is to reduce the number of foolish decisions as much as you can. The low-hanging fruit alone (like emotional control) can cut out the majority of bad decisions so I'd start with that.

I like a lot of what you said. But I don't think you took it far enough. You employed a semantic trick because certainly wisdom is more than the absence of foolishness.

A person who avoids foolishness has a certain degree of wisdom, I'll admit that. But would we consider him or her wise, or merely "risk averse"/"sheepish"/"in a shell"?

Wisdom is not just avoiding wrong action, but it is also recognizing right action. And I don't agree with the definition of right action as the action that avoids negative outcomes.

Inaction also avoids negative outcomes. Inaction maybe as a result of wisdom, but it may be as a result of fear.

I don’t think foolishness is the opposite of wisdom @Fox. I’m not sure what is, but imagine a child or innocent who’s not lived much. They’re not wise, but they don’t have to be foolish.

I think of it as a spectrum. You score 100 you've got perfect wisdom. You score negative 100, you're complete fool. The children you describe, true innocents, give or take, are somewhere between 5 and negative 5.

The absence of wisdom does not necessarily mean foolishness, and the absence of foolishness does not necessarily mean wisdom. There is a middle ground, innocence and/or ignorance, but I do think that foolishness and wisdom are opposites.
 

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Owls are thought of as being wise.

Yeah I'm aware of that but not sure what the question is about.

Is it about people who seem to be wise by nature?
 

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I like a lot of what you said. But I don't think you took it far enough. You employed a semantic trick because certainly wisdom is more than the absence of foolishness.

A person who avoids foolishness has a certain degree of wisdom, I'll admit that. But would we consider him or her wise, or merely "risk averse"/"sheepish"/"in a shell"?

Wisdom is not just avoiding wrong action, but it is also recognizing right action. And I don't agree with the definition of right action as the action that avoids negative outcomes.

I focused on avoiding foolish decisions since that seemed to be @Fox's main question.

There's "positive" wisdom as well (as opposed to "negative" wisdom - avoiding bad decisions) that pertains to living a noble life and the right actions as you mentioned. Stoicism touches a lot on that but I decided it was beyond the scope of this thread. I already hate @Fox for sending me this thread first thing in the morning and making me write a long-a$$ response instead of writing my own stuff LOL.
 
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Yeah I'm aware of that but not sure what the question is about.

Is it about people who seem to be wise by nature?
It's a comment by OMJ. He was probably being witty or making a joke.

Half the time I can't figure out if he's just making a joke or providing an absurd zen riddle. I enjoy it either way.

And if he has a deeper meaning, he'll reveal it in time.

Wisdom is the skill of decision making. You either decide to do something wise or say something wise.

But not decision making with memorization, rules and calculating...trusting others too much.

Decision making that comes from seeing clearly what is obvious in the real world. Trusting what you see with your own eyes.

You can only see clearly when you are not afraid of seeing something you don't wish to be true.

People who are unwise are typically afraid or unable of seeing or facing truth in one way or another.

People who are unwise, deep down, are cowards, or totally unable to quiet their mind enough to have any self-reflection whatsoever.

When your desire to improve is genuinely stronger than your fear of emotional discomfort, you won't be afraid of seeking truth, especially about yourself.

You can decrease your fear of emotional discomfort with exposing yourself to it. Doing things that make you emotionally uncomfortable.

I would bet my money that after doing things that make you emotionally uncomfortable, you will be less afraid of accepting hard truths that you see. You will stop lying to yourself so much. You will make better decisions of what to do and say and the things that used to guide your decisions like fear will take a back seat and let other, better things help influence your decisions.

I think you are onto something as well with the idea of facing truth/seeking truth. I believe that is a big component of increasing wisdom.
 

Kevin88660

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I wanted to start this thread for a while because it is a topic that fascinates me...

How can a person become wise?

I think many people have all the intelligence they need but still end up in all kinds of bad situations.
Many times I have looked at some of my own actions and thought "this was extremely foolish".

Brian Tracey has a quote about this which sums it up well..


I would love to see some people weigh in on this:
- do you think it is a case of being able to learn correctly from your mistakes and the mistakes of others?
- is it about being able to control short term thinking and compulsive actions?
- or is it about your values and how you interact with the world?

There is a lot of great advice around on how to create wealth but it does seem there is a lack of good resources for building true wisdom.
It is quite subjective on how you interpret as”being wise”.

I think it usually refer to a set of rules correlated with age and life experience that put you in a place with less unnecessary resistance.

Typically you heard them before. Such as make more friends and try not to make enemies. Don’t be too stingy or greedy towards others. Try to praise others and find less fault…

It is usually in the context of dealing with interpersonal relationship.
 

Guyfieri5

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I would love to see some people weigh in on this:
- do you think it is a case of being able to learn correctly from your mistakes and the mistakes of others?

One aspect of wisdom is being judgment-free when it comes to analyzing your problems and the problems of others.

Something I've found helpful when assessing my actions and the actions of others is observing without judgment. Even if I do something wrong, remaining detached and judgment-free is valuable when learning because you remove some hesitation. For example, I'm learning to play volleyball. While playing I keep launching my serves too far, I can either analyze my movements and adjust them or curse myself for being so bad at the sport. The latter is a judgment that can become a limiting belief that can in turn cause me to give up on the sport altogether. The same applies to judging others. You can either cast judgment on someone's ability and dismiss them for sucking or analyze their actions and learn from them. In my opinion, you can only learn from your mistakes if you observe without judgment.

Btw… I don’t think foolishness is the opposite of wisdom @Fox. I’m not sure what is, but imagine a child or innocent who’s not lived much. They’re not wise, but they don’t have to be foolish.

I can see what you're saying here. Foolishness in a strict sense is just acting like an imbecile or silly. There are direct and easily perceivable consequences to acting foolishly.

Perhaps the opposite of wisdom is acting against yourself out of ignorance?

It would take wisdom to understand that half-assing a job because it's menial is bad for your personal development. Someone could rationalize why saving your energy by not doing your best is good because you could "save it for more important things." You can half-a$$ a job and still not look like a fool because your ability at half capacity is perhaps still enough to do the job well. Only you know that you could do more and go against yourself when you don't do your best.

I think you are onto something as well with the idea of facing truth/seeking truth. I believe that is a big component of increasing wisdom.

I like this. To build on it, seeking the truth in situations without bias and judgment is extremely important when becoming wise. A big part of learning and becoming great at anything is stripping away all of your limiting beliefs which involves trying to find the truth about what you are actually capable of.

When dealing with personal issues and conflicts, removing biases, judgments, and assumptions (all things that cloud the truth) is extremely difficult. Someone with wisdom operates without those things and can easily face the truth rather than imaginary issues. Someone who lacks wisdom approaches personal conflicts with preconceived notions and assumptions that can often be false. This can make problems worse only causing more pain and suffering.

I'm curious about what we all come up with in this thread. I have my ideas of wisdom but by no means understand it fully. It's a tough concept to grasp. To counter my own statement above that the opposite of wisdom is acting against yourself. King Solomon was considered the wisest man alive but allowed women into his life that pulled him away from God. Even the wisest among us make mistakes and behave in ways that go against themselves.
 
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Guyfieri5

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Oh, and if all that fails, just shut up and you might be thought of as wise, or at least not a fool.

(Yeah, I'm still working on that last one)
Good point. I am working on that as well lol.
 

Move the chains

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I would love to see some people weigh in on this:
- do you think it is a case of being able to learn correctly from your mistakes and the mistakes of others?
- is it about being able to control short term thinking and compulsive actions?
- or is it about your values and how you interact with the world?
Great questions and thought-provoking post!

I think the definition of 'wise' varies person to person too and depend on what it's being applied to.

I like to think it related to learning from life experience and although we often have to experience the good and bad while learning from what worked and what didn't, we can get a framework of things to try (or avoid) by studying the experiences of others.

Another route (that I need to get back on) is along the lines of Charlie Munger's philosophy of reading and studying mental models that help with decision making.

Farnham St blog / podcast is a great resource for this type of approach to wisdom.

I do think values play a big part. It's also helpful to remember that our biology is outdated and our mind is here to keep us safe while conserving energy and resources. I'm working on not believing my thoughts when it comes to taking smart risks and/or pushing through when I don't feel like doing something that I know will benefit me in the long run.
 

heavy_industry

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Knowledge is just information.
Wisdom is applying your knowledge to achieve a desirable outcome.

I would say wisdom comes from being able to see the full picture and thinking long term. Fear the consequences of your actions, because everything that you do (and don't do) has a price, and you will be the one to pay it further down the line.

The easiest way to improve wisdom on a daily basis is to reflect on your life and ask yourself:
  • What are the good things that I know I could do, I know I should do, in order for my life to improve?
  • What are the bad things that I know perfectly well to be bad, but I keep doing them on a regular basis?
Start doing the good things and stop doing the bad things, and your life will change beyond comprehension. Start with small actions. Clean your room, stop smoking, stop wasting time on pointless things.

Small victories pile up and you will get a compounding effect on them. Each small step in a positive direction will increase the probability of the next positive step.

Jordan Peterson explains it nicely:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t90yt4b8pA&ab_channel=MotivationMadness
 
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AndreP

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great topic @Fox , nothing is as interesting as the psychology of mankind.

Personally i think this has a lot to do with the following two ways a person handles setbacks, problems etc.

Internal Locus of control
Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life are primarily a result of their own actions., they believe that they are responsible for their own success and faillure.

External locus of control
Individuals with a strong extarnal locus of control believe that what happens to them is luck or fate and that they are not in control of their life; it is all due to external forces in their environment (for example other people)

Research shows that people with an internal locus of control are more successful and happier.
 

ruzara5

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do you think it is a case of being able to learn correctly from your mistakes and the mistakes of others?
From some of my experience with communicating with my network of business friends and strangers, this is a good portion of gaining wisdom and discretion for ideas and potential caveats in life and business. At least 50% of what is helping me improve in my tests in processes and mistakes at a variety of levels.
 

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