10 Ways to Grow Wiser Every Day

March 14, 2017

Wisdom is something we can never have too much of.  Having wisdom helps us make better decisions, perceive people and situations correctly, and live according to our values.  Increasing intelligence is wonderful, but I’d rather hang out with a wise person than an intelligent person any day (not that the two are mutually exclusive, of […]

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Wisdom is something we can never have too much of.  Having wisdom helps us make better decisions, perceive people and situations correctly, and live according to our values.  Increasing intelligence is wonderful, but I’d rather hang out with a wise person than an intelligent person any day (not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course). 
Why should we seek to grow in wisdom?  Aside from the obvious, if we seek to grow wiser, we acknowledge that we have more to learn; we view ourselves with humility and recognize that we don’t have it all figured out…and we probably never will.  Wisdom is something we should pursue not because we will eventually have enough, but because the pursuit of it continually reveals more of what we need…deeper understanding of ourselves, our purpose, and our world.  
Here are ten ways you can grow in wisdom a bit every day. 
1.  Do more of what you love every day.  Tuning in to your authentic self and trusting your intuition is wise.  We may not always be right or have all the right answers, but we know what we like and what we don’t.  Who do you love?  Spend time with those people.  What do you love to do?  Do some of that as often as possible.  What are your favorite foods and drinks?  Eat and drink them more often.  Stop trying to be someone else and LIVE your beautiful life.  Your likes and dislikes are there for a reason…DO YOU, Besties!
2.  Choose joy.  A few years ago, I read a book with this title by Kay Warren.  It totally changed my perspective on the ups and downs of life.  Warren states that “joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  SO much of that resonated with me, and recognizing that we do have a choice in how we respond to our circumstances is a powerful truth, regardless of your spiritual beliefs.  
3.  Accept the unpredictability of life.  I wrote about this in a post on non-attachment.  Most of us wake up every day with an assumption about how our day will go.  We make our plans, fill our agendas, and go about our to-do lists.  But how many times have those plans flown out the window when our child becomes sick, a loved one unexpectedly needs us, or an exciting offer comes our way?  Life and people are dynamic; they change in the blink of an eye.  The sooner we learn to loosely hold our plans, the more peace and wisdom we will have.
4.  Stop comparing.  When you find yourself comparing your life, your body, your bank account, your personality, your kids, your abilities, your ______________ to someone else, stop.  Comparison is so, so unhealthy.  Mostly because we do not have the ability to compare ourselves accurately.  You may have heard the saying, “if everyone in the world put all of their problems in a big pile, chances are you would be perfectly willing to take your own problems back and go on your way, rather than trade problems with anyone else.” We see such a small glimpse of what others are actually going through, and who they truly are.  It’s not fair to us or to them to compare. 
5.  Express all the love and appreciation you can.  I’m a big believer in making our regrets few.  We grow in wisdom when we realize each moment we have with our loved ones is a gift.  Let’s be mindful of telling the people we hold dear how very dear they are to us, each and every day.  If you love someone, tell them.  If someone has helped you, thank them.  Show and tell all the love you can, while you can.  This is something we will never, ever regret.
6.  Celebrate your uniqueness.  We are made unique for a reason. Everyone is different.  Everyone is a little quirky. Seriously, everyone.  Me.  You.  The Pope.  Our parents.  Your favorite movie star.  Your Spouse.  For sure all of our kids.  EVERYONE.  So why do we spend so much of our lives trying not to be?  Trying to hide our weirdness, our us-ness from others?  Recognizing what makes you different and celebrating it is absolutely wisdom.  Loving yourself is wisdom.  
7.  Understand that trials help us grow.  My husband and I were recently asked the question, “what causes maturity and growth in a person?”  He very wisely answered:  “hard times.”  As much as we hate them, and experiencing trials is painful, we are wise to recognize our opportunities to grow from them.  In the midst of dark times, how have you seen yourself grow in the past?  Who are you now that you wouldn’t have been had you not gone through something trying?  We obviously won’t be happy about it when we experience deep loss or difficulty, but we can look for an opportunity to grow from it.
8.  Know that your feelings are not facts.  I also discussed this here.  Practice noticing when you are engaging in black and white thinking, jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, and other cognitive distortions.  Every human being does it at some point, but the more we are aware of our thought patterns, the wiser we become.  When we are distressed with repeated, troubling thoughts, we must test them to see whether or not they are reliable.  
9.  Read.  I know life is busy, but we grow in wisdom (and intelligence, actually) by reading.  We tell our kids to read every day…turns out it’s also good for adults. 😉  Make a list of topics that interest you, or books and blogs you want to read and keep it handy.  Utilize your library.  Use your downtime well.  If you find yourself with unexpected free time, put it to good use and read something rather than mindlessly perusing the internet or (cough cough) social media.  
10.  Listen.  Pay attention to what others are saying.  Your family, your friends, the people you meet in the places you go.  We grow in wisdom when we intentionally listen to people and give them our full attention.  Our relationships improve, we read people better, and we are more present with those we love.  People are constantly teaching us about themselves, but we will never learn more about them if we are the ones doing all the talking.  
Let me know if you have anything to add, and as with anything else, take what works for you and leave the rest.  A big part of wisdom again, is trusting your instincts.  Here’s to increasing our wisdom today, and every day!

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