“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates
If knowledge is information or data, wisdom is a refinement of that data and knowing when to act upon that knowledge.
One does not need to become a philosopher to be wise — one needs to be a lover of wisdom. While the contemplative argues for an unexamined life’s worthlessness. Others support the plethora of critical examination of society, religion and government.
Yet, once wisdom is tasted, one will not want to give it up!
1. Slow down to Speed Up
Speed drives our world. Yet, if we are always in a rush, racing from one point to the next, we are more prone to making mistakes and losing perspective. All great civilizations from Persia to Rome were built upon the unharried mind and have collapsed by the hurried hand. Do not be obsessed with quick thinking. Every sentence or social media post should “be on trial for its existence.”
A person word and writing should clarify their mind, and it slows one down, which is the most productive kind of time one can have. Make more “time” to read and write, instead of moving like a New York taxi from one place to another. Try to understand what is underneath something — what is driving our behaviour. The wise slow down their minds — they observe things from a distance. They pause, learn, self-reflect and pray.
Wise decisions require balancing urgency and tenacity.
2. Focus on What’s Essential
We associate much for meaning and more with better. So the more you do and the more you have, the better person you become. When everything is a priority, one cannot separate what matters from what does not. Unfortunately, this endless race to do and achieve more and more drives confusion and frustration. If one can say no to the unnecessary, one can have tranquillity.
If one can eliminate more, one will discover meaning. To “do less, better” is the secret of the great. Life is not about getting less done or about getting more done in less time. Instead, life is about priorities or essentialism –focus on the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.’ As people of faith, the criteria we should follow for how we define things that add value to our lives is the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We embrace this concept of “pause and reflect before saying yes” as a way to help us follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit for our lives.
People are mistaken when they are more protective of their property, money, and possessions yet careless about their most precious asset: their time.
Remember, life is never short if we know how to use it.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”
3. Think From the Middle Ground
Seeing the world only in black and white will gets us stuck. Thinking in from the middle ground is about learning, not taking positions — where one-stop seeing opposing concepts as enemies. Integrative thinking is essential. It is the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in our heads and reconcile them for a problem at hand. Fundamentalism, dualism destroys creative thinking.
Learn to shift from fundamentalism and duality to integration. Heaven and earth, mind and matter, truth and criticism mean clarity.
“When you are at the top, you only see shadows, and when you’re at the bottom, you are blinded by the light, but from the middle, everything is pleasing… day and night.”
Wise people embrace differences and diverse perspectives without compromising their convictions.
4. Spot the Weakness in an Argument
The words we don’t challenge become true.
“A lie told often enough becomes the ‘truth.’ “
The purpose of critical thinking is not to find an error but to avoid behaviour based on false assumptions.
The confirmation bias, for example, is our tendency to look for and to recall evidence that confirms, but not that disconfirms, our beliefs and hypotheses. This is because people are usually prone to various cognitive biases.
When reading or conversating, look or listen out for the word “surely.” It is often used as a ‘truism’ without offering sufficient “reason or evidence” — s/he hopes or presumes the listening or reader will quickly agree. However, thinking critically means not taking things for granted. Logical fallacies are arguments that fail to make sense scientifically — though they can often make an emotional appeal, they do not prove the underlying claims. Proof by example is a fallacy that uses one or more cases to suggest a general rule. For instance, if a person has one bad experience from a certain nationality, that does not suggest that every one of that nationality are the same.
When you observe people from a particular group doing something and then assume everyone who belongs to that group acts the same way. This is an example of a weakness in an argument.
5. Be Intellectually Humble
Most talented people do not make wrong decisions because of a lack of facts but of low self-awareness. Most intelligent people tend to overestimate how much they know. Intellectual pride prevents the celebration of uncertainty — when we reward certainty and condemn doubt, we then focus more on being right then, finding the correct answer.
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
Intellectual humility is about recognizing that the things you believe in might, in fact, be wrong. It is an invitation to ’empty your cup,’ so you can fill it up with new knowledge. Practice being obsessively curious. Challenge everything — especially what you believe is right. Leave the door open for better solutions, rather than sticking to your answer, old wineskin. Intellectual humility is letting go of certainty.
Wise people are not embarrassed to become temporarily dependent on other people’s knowledge or expertise.