Oscar Wilde wrote that ‘with age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone’, so how do we know if we are becoming wise, or just becoming older?
While age is a given, becoming wise is something we all strive for as we get older. Yet, it is difficult to know at times whether we are actually becoming wise. Wisdom is hard to see, and always hard won.
Through the twists and turns of life, we live, and we learn from mistakes and from heartaches. Through it all, we may be becoming wise without even realizing, or we may be simply a victim to circumstance. So, how do we tell the difference? It seems then that ultimate wisdom is knowing that you are becoming wise.
Can you forgive?
Heartache is a natural consequence of life. We all meet people who will hurt us and let us down. We do not have to forgive them right away. In fact, it would be unwise to, but the truly wise do not hold onto grudges. Others may say that we are silly to forgive those who have wronged us, as it opens the door for them to hurt us again, but this is where there is a subtle difference.
As we grow, we learn that others are not infallible. They are just as likely to make mistakes as we are. In becoming wise, we learn to forgive the mistakes of others without giving them another opportunity to hurt us. We let go of our grudges, but we remember to respect ourselves enough not to let it happen again.
Similarly, we learn to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes and we learn from them. Regret and guilt are natural, but in truly becoming wise, we understand when to let go to hold ourselves back.
The bigger picture is more important
We can all lose focus and get caught up in the small and insignificant problems that life throws at us. We lose sight of the bigger picture and obsess over things that are unimportant in the long run.
A key sign that you are becoming wise is that you can slow yourself down and widen your field of vision. Refocussing on the bigger picture gives you a better perspective and allows you to see alternative solutions to the problem that you may not have seen before.
As with most things, this takes a practice and can be difficult to perfect. The wiser we become, the easier it is to realize the importance of the bigger picture and not the issue that is right in front of us.
Disengaging from expectations
Expectations are natural, and we all need them to practice self-respect. The problem with expectations, however, is that we are too emotionally connected to them. When we are disappointed, our emotions take over and we get upset and angry with those who let us down.
Becoming wise does not mean not having expectations, but it does mean that we must disengage with them to a certain extent. Rather than letting them affect our emotions beyond our control, the wise simply accept that they have been let down and move on.
This makes us much more level-headed when dealing with others and keeps us in control of our own selves. In maintaining control of our emotions, we retain the respect of others and can be much more effective in implementing future expectations. A true sign of becoming wise is the ability to know how to deal with disappointment maturely and knowing how to calmly express expectations.
Seeking to enrich rather than experience
When we are younger, we naturally seek experiences which are instantly thrilling and entertain us straightaway, but boredom quickly follows.
As we get older, we may carry on this behavior to the detriment of the bigger picture. It can leave us feeling hollow and unhappy. A sign of wisdom is seeking the experiences and successes which enrich our lives and entertain us on a more permanent basis. Hobbies, skills, and projects are all ways in which we cultivate sustainable enjoyment in our everyday lives.
Time means more than money
It’s a natural consequence of life that the older we get, the less time we have. However, there are some who take a long time to realize this. They disregard not only their own time but the time of others and don’t understand the consequences of wasting time. There are some who value money over their time and spend more time working for money than they spend enjoying the money they earn.
Life is a fine balance of spending our time to earn money and spending money to enjoy our time, but the wisest of us understand that time will always have a higher value than money. It is something we cannot earn more of, and we should enjoy it while we have it.
Becoming wise is a slow and subtle process it. You may not realize it’s happening, but it has profound effects on the way we live our lives. True wisdom is the wisdom to know yourself, and if you find these signs reflect how you feel, you may be wiser than you think.