When it comes to learning life lessons, what type of students are we? Oops! Did I make a wrong assumption? Are we students of life? Shall we find out?

First, I invite you to read this Wall Street Journal post: “The Man Who Predicted the Depression

Next, based on what you’ve read, what grades would you give out based on the state of our general physical health or economy.  How about our grades on social studies, history and math?   What more do we have yet to learn about wars, poverty, prejudice and pride? What does rampant obesity, discrimination and fear teach us?   Are we growing more wise or more creative in ways to NOT learn?

Wisdom: a word worth paying attention to!

How do we grow wise? What ingredients do we need to cook-up some wisdom? Consider this wisdom pyramid (much like the old food pyramid):

First ingredient: data Words, numbers, images, sounds, sights, tastes are all good examples of data. For example, open a dictionary to any page and you’ll find all sorts of words. Words form a small part of our wisdom. We need more than words to become wise.

When we combine words into something meaningful, we form information. The web is wonderful in overloading us with information. Is information wisdom? Not yet! Why? Well, google some directions on how to change a flat tire sometime I bet this information doesn’t come CLOSE to containing what you need to know when you actually have to change a flat tire. When you finally DO change that tire, you turn.information into knowledge.

Yes, knowledge contains the seeds of profound wisdom. While people who contain vast stores of knowledge often seem wise, don’t allow all that knowledge to fool you into believing they’re a wise person. For example,  imagine you’ve read every known book about New York city. You’ve listened to every know expert on the city of New York. You’ve watched every known movie, DVD, video and TV series there is on New York city. However, you’ve never actually traveled to, or lived in New York city. If the time comes for me to visit New York City I’ll hire a someone who LIVES and works in New York city (hands-down any day) over anyone who’s book smart about NYC.

BINGO! Experience combined with knowledge forms the initial crumbs of wisdom. Why only crumbs of wisdom versus the full on buffet? Simple! The amount of first-hand experiential time plays the pivotal role to determine how ripe ones’ wisdom really is. The more time we spend practicing our craft, the more wise we become in such practice. Of course, we aid the process of becoming more wise when we add the final wisdom ingredient: perspective!

Data + information = knowledge. Knowledge + experience + time = initial seeds of wisdom. Time + multiple perspectives = savvy wisdom! To test out this formula, think back to a time when you thought you knew it all! (Is that time, today? If so, you’re in for some big surprises!) As you ponder your level of wisdom, do you notice how the more you know, the more you become aware of how much more there is to know?

Is it possible to ever know ALL there is to know about some one or some thing? A wise person will automatically answer NO! If someone tells you, “Yea! I know all there is to know about [insert any topic], RUN (don’t walk) away from this person. Why? Arrogance inspires blindness. Confidence inspires insightfulness.

What does forming wisdom have to do with one’s personal worth?

Our personal worth is soundly rooted in how well (and fast) we learn life lessons. Those who learn quickly tend to adapt, survive and often thrive. Anyone who learns the hard way (often painfully hard), does so by repeating, repeating (did I mention, repeating? ) certain lessons over and over again. Each time we repeat a lesson, we consume more time, money and related resources. While each lesson offers a nuance unlike any other lesson, it’s worth our time to learn our lessons the first time around.

Any time you discover yourself feeling discomfort or pain due to repeating a less-than-enjoyable life lesson, try on this suggestion to soften or dissolve pain: LEARN with a sense of gratitude. Learning based in gratitude helps dissolve discomfort or pain when we genuinely appreciate or savor the learning process. Ready to engage the art of savoring the learning process this time? I hope so!  Why?   When we fail at learning something, we face repeating that lesson. The Man Who Predicted the Depression clearly demonstrates how we once again have before us some critical economic lessons.  These lessons impact our personal worth on many levels.

Have you noticed how a wise person enjoys and savors the art of learning? How wise do you feel these days? Wise?


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