We all seek answers, clues, solutions, and even magic to ambiguity, obstacles, adversities and problems life keeps bringing our way every day of our lives. We seek wisdom in dealing with personal, family, business and even world’s challenging and complex situations. We are not alone.
Baltes and Freund in 2003, define wisdom as having rich and diverse knowledge, know-how to make hard decisions in various contexts, recognition of differences in beliefs & values, and recognition & tolerance of uncertainty. Sternberg, whereas defines wisdom as composition of practical intelligence with tacit knowledge and puts more emphasis on balancing and recognizing the ecosystem beyond ourselves. Latest research adds the capacity to foresee the long-term consequences of our actions to the definition.
Today, we seek wisdom more than ever. We are facing more uncertainty, experiencing enormous consequences of ego-centric industrialization age in the form of climate, resource challenges and awaiting impact of disruptive trends like technology, population, ageing. Businesses, academics and researchers are seeking means to increase human performance, grow expertise, improve ageing and build a sustainable future. Definitely enormous piles of information, big data and more intelligence will be helpful, but as we steer into unknown territory of future, we need more of wisdom: knowledge, insight and virtue synthesised.
Wisdom appears in the shape of sage, mentor, go-to person of the family, philosopher, or an expert. Though age is not an explicit requirement, experience, understanding and insight built from all the adversities of life definitely build up wisdom. Monica Ardelt, PhD argues, wisdom leads to wellbeing in her 3 dimensional wisdom score model. Ardelt’s wisdom model adds Reflective dimension to Cognitive and Affective (compassionate) in defining how wise one is. In her argument, Cognitive dimension helps one see the world more realistically, Reflective helps him understand deeper truths and move beyond egocentricity and Affective dimension promises the tolerance toward life bringing more of grit, more of resilience. Adverse events having a negative toll on wellbeing elevates wisdom and strength of its correlation to wellbeing as another paradox of life.
Multidimensionality underneath the concept makes it challenging and puzzling. Wisdom is not merely knowledge, nor virtue, nor coping with life, but all of it internalized and reflected onto everyday. Good news is that we can work towards it. Choosing what we attend to, practicing mindfulness, resisting distraction, looking at the bigger picture, considering different views on issues, building empathy and compassion as positive life habits make us wiser. Being wiser invites success. Better yet, being wiser brings happiness in the end. Is not happiness the ultimate goal in life? It is in your hands, so be wise.