As I age, I’ve been thinking a great deal about wisdom, a useful concept to reflect on in my business of helping people lead their best lives. What I’ve come to believe is that if I can teach clients and readers how to become wiser in order to make better choices for themselves—with food and all of life—I’ll have made an impact. Rather than hear my voice in their heads guiding them, I’d like them to develop their own internal Wise Woman or Man who knows what’s best for them.
The word wise has many meanings: good judgment, discernment, prudence, sagacity, the ability to discriminate, enlightenment and knowledgeable. It is not per se about happiness, success, achievement, love, power or healing. In my mind, it grows out of learning from your experience and that of others in order to make the best choice you can make in any given moment. It’s about making an informed decision that is as good as one is going to be at any point in time.
There are a number of ways not to gain wisdom. You won’t get it by making a beeline towards it. You can’t tunnel vision your way to growing wiser, nor can you wear blinders to reality and expect to find it. You can’t acquire it without veering off the beaten track and you’ll never possess it solely by seeking wisdom from others. Rather, it will be a unique by-product of your past and present, history, capabilities, and temperament. You can borrow the wisdom of others and take it for a test drive, but you can’t take it home, park it in your garage and expect it to transport you where you need to go.
There are, however, ways to garner wisdom as you stumble through life. On is to reflect with curiosity on your own behavior and that of others and to try to fathom your and their motivation without making a judgment about it. Emotional intelligence coupled with compassion will bring you practical wisdom. When you understand what makes people tick, rather than see them as defective because they don’t work very well, you move toward wisdom. When you understand yourself inside and out and learn more as much from your mistakes as from your successes, you’re taking a giant leap toward wisdom.
Remember that being wise only comes from an open, ever curious mind. You can’t shut out ideas that make you uncomfortable, but need to embrace discomfort and follow where it leads. You can’t pick one way of thinking and insist that you will never change, but, rather, think of yourself as a work in progress that won’t ever be completed. You all have the potential to develop a Wise Woman or Man inside you that guides your life. Listen for that voice, cherish it, and follow it. That’s as good as it gets.