They say wise people are clever and very knowledgeable about their decision-making process. This is the “wisdom” that comes with the aging process in an individual. Wisdom is one of the basic and also the umbrella term for so many concepts under positive psychology and is the trait that defines one person as wise and intelligent. Wisdom is the ability to think in nuanced thought processes and taking things in various colors, not simply in a black and white context. Wisdom, an intangible property of humans, requires the powers of experience, knowledge, and a very in-depth understanding about the crucial situations of one’s own life. The most important characteristic of a person of high wisdom is that he or she will tend to motivate others, rather than simply judging all. Problem-solving tests, sentence completion assessments, self-report questionnaires, etc. all tend to measure wisdom accordingly. In short, wisdom is the awareness about people and surroundings and also the harmony and meaning of living that emerges as a result of high wisdom.
STRENGTHS ASSOCIATED WITH WISDOM
When a person’s intellectual abilities combine with psychological knowledge and well-being, then the result is wisdom. The 5 important properties of wisdom are as below:
- CREATIVITY: The individual contribution of a person to a particular life issue or situation in an original and unique manner. The end product may be ingenuity or even a groundbreaking solution to any problem. Scientific discoveries and also the artistic skills are the traditional focus of creativity in positive psychology.
- OPEN-MINDEDNESS: The process of thinking out of the box, considering various aspects of an objective problem beyond their original levels of faith, knowledge, and belief systems. Judgment becomes more open and critical thinking is the key foundation of the open-minded process of thinking. Open-minded people tend to have new experiences daily in their life making things interesting.
- CURIOSITY: Exploring new ways of life and also getting into it with enthusiasm and courage is what is called curiosity. A curious mind will always have new life experiences and also more knowledgeable than the general public. Interest, openness to experience and the novelty-seeking mind are the three important characteristics of curiosity.
- LOVE OF LEARNING: The mastery of skills, talents, abilities, etc. in a formal educational way or on basis of self-interest and personal initiative. It is basically adding things extra to the already known facts and knowledge. The learned people have the trait of sharing with others about what they know personally. The love for learning new things results in higher knowledge, better decision-making strategies, and the power of mastering completely in something.
- PERSPECTIVE [WISDOM]: Processing things for the satisfaction and dedication to both the self and to the surrounding others. It is also the ability for providing counsel to others with wise information and knowledge. A good perspective will help the person see in the eyes and views of another individual and also give practical, appropriate reasons for things which makes sense to both the self and others.
DIFFERENTIATING WISDOM VS KNOWLEDGE
Wisdom is the ability of giving sound judgments, exact and appropriate reasons for queries and situations that arose earlier. This wisdom is also useful for denoting the experience of a person when he or she pertains to the present. Wisdom is hence a significant positive and an intangible property of the self. Knowledge, on the other hand, is the confidence level of a person when he or she tends to respond to give answers. Education is the knowledge and known information about a subject matter that is read or learnt previously. While wisdom comes from personal experience and both formal and informal way learning, knowledge comes from sources like education, regular learning, reflections, science, and logically reasoned thoughts. Knowledge is always ready for improvisation, whereas wisdom is timeless and is governed by the choice of pursuits like experience, relationships, communication, etc. Some theories of positive psychology also state that wisdom comes from the knowledge, where wisdom arises from the inner self and intuition, and knowledge come from the external, outside world.
For example, knowledge in simple terms is, attending the semester examinations in college where a person writes what he or she knew or studied already. On the other hand wisdom to understand easily is, knowing that scissors are useful for cutting paper and not using it to cut wood.
SOME CHARACTERSTICS OF WISE PEOPLE
- People with higher wisdom and morale have greater satisfaction with what they have in their lives.
- Both the emotional or affective state and the brainy or cognitive state are together functioning as an integrative part of wise people.
- The general quality of living in the early adulthood years of life is very important for wise people.
- Men usually tend to act as wise when they are in social situations like public places, whereas women usually express wisdom in private parts of their lives.
- The beginning of wisdom is around the end of teenage and young adulthood days and starts to decline around the age of 70 years.
- Taking a category of people, clinical psychologists have generally proven to be strong in their values of wisdom.
BRIEF LIST OF THEORIES OF WISDOM
The earlier theories of wisdom had the issues of confusion between considering wisdom as either a normal quality which is exhibited by regular living people, or taken as an extraordinary and fuzzy thing possessed by great sages and monks. After proper conceptualization came a few theories like implicit, explicit, and the final and most significant, balance theory of wisdom.
- IMPLICT THEORIES OF WISDOM;
- Initially Clayton in the year 1975, gave 3 dimensions of wisdom, namely affective, reflective and cognitive.
- Sternberg in the year 1985, presented the 6 dimensions of wisdom as reasoning ability, sagacity, perspicacity, judgment, expeditious use of data, and learning.
- Holiday and Chandler in 1986 gave 5 other dimensions of wisdom as exceptional understanding, interpersonal skills, social unobtrusiveness, and general competence and communication skills.
- Baltes in 1933 said that wisdom is something one can easily view and hard to cultivate, where wisdom is the special knowledge and an extraordinary scope of knowledge.
These theories were later neglected, due to cultural reasons and then entered the phase of explicit theories of wisdom which focus upon behaviors, twinning with theories of personality and values of pragmatic knowledge.
- EXPLICT THEORIES OF WISDOM;
- Reigel in 1973 stated that wisdom is built into the dialectical stage of operations in development, and this theory has its roots with Piaget’s cognitive theory.
- Erickson in 1959 said that wisdom is something that is of collective significance than that of the self and it is a general part of optimal development.
- BALANCE THEORY OF WISDOM
Robert. J. Sternberg gave the balance theory of wisdom which defined wisdom as the use of an individual’s knowledge, skills, talents, experience, etc. to achieve insights for a positive, common good and also an ethical end, which is acquired by the balance between factors like;
- Extra personal interests over short and long term balanced for,
- Adapting to new circumstances
- Selecting the environments; and
- Shaping of the existing situations.
In short, the balance theory of wisdom considers the above criteria as a balance between the interests, environments, and time frames.
APPLICATIONS OF USING WISDOM
- If the person has enough and the right wisdom, then he or she can easily cope with life issues and get the best out of everything since they tend to understand the self, others and the situation correctly.
- You will be better at knowing about your upcoming potential threats and dangers, if you have the wisdom of it.
- Gaining other people’s influence is very much easier and you will be better able to manage failures and also success in any context.
- Wisdom is also helping people in big situations of life like getting married, deciding upon various career options, handling death of a beloved person, and even deciding to plan and have a family of your own.
- The situations in every person’s life that occur daily and normally like negotiating with someone, asking something from some person, driving and intents of eating, walking, exercising, etc. all use wisdom at various levels.
- General enhancement of the self and life is possible if there is enough knowledge, good education resulting in wisdom and optimism.