A wise person has the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right. It is not that unwise people don't judge. However, their judgments are.
Elder Neil L. Andersen teaches us how to discern between God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom.
In today’s information tidal wave, we desperately need wisdom—wisdom to sort through and discern how to apply what we are learning.
The scriptures describe two types of wisdom: the wisdom of the world, and the wisdom of God. The wisdom of the world has both a positive and a negative component. In the darkest description, it could be described as a partial truth, mixed with intelligence and manipulation, to achieve selfish or evil purposes.
We need to learn that when there is conflict between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, that we must yield our will to the wisdom of God.
There is another kind of wisdom of the world that is not nearly so sinister. In fact it is very positive. This wisdom is consciously acquired through study, reflection, observation, and hard work. It is very valuable and helpful in the things we do. To good and decent people, it comes as we experience our mortality.
More importantly, the wisdom that brings success in the world must be willing to step behind the wisdom of God and not think that it can substitute for it. The wisdom of God is wisdom with a large W.
Not all wisdom is created equal. We need to learn that when there is conflict between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, that we must yield our will to the wisdom of God.
I suggest you take some of the issues facing you. Put a line down the middle of a paper. List the wisdom of the world on the left side and the wisdom of God on the right side. Write the issues in conflict one with another.
In section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which speaks of the events leading up to the Second Coming of the Savior, the Lord again tells the story of the ten virgins and then leaves us with these words: “For they that are wise [wisdom with a large W], and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (D&C 45:57).
Let us seek after the wisdom of God. There is much we can learn right now about wisdom. I promise you that the Lord’s blessings will attend you as you seek for wisdom, the wisdom of God. He is so anxious to impart His wisdom to us. And if we will be obedient and prayerful and seek after it, it will come.
How do you choose God’s wisdom over the world’s wisdom? Share your experience with other youth by commenting below.
This article originally appeared in the August 2014New Era.
If you want to become a wise person, especially when it comes to money, you need to start acting like one. Here are characteristics to consider emulating.
You don't have to be Gandhi or Mother Theresa to think wisely. We can all tap in to that place within ourselves if we try. Being wise can save us a lot of heartache and negativity in our lives. And who wouldn't want that?
Here are 11 ways you can think like a wise person:
1. Think before you speak.
Like you haven't heard that one before! I'm sure most of our parents told us that when we were children. It's something you probably know you should do, but may find difficult. One of the principles of communication is that "Once you say it, you can't take it back." Sure, you can try. But whether the other person will believe you is another story. So before you open your mouth to say something, make sure it's something you would be proud to post everywhere on social media. If it's something you might regret later, then maybe it's better if you kept it to yourself. So, think before you speak.
2. Realize there is never a 'right time.'
"When I get a better job," or, "When I graduate," or, "When the kids are grown." These are all common statements that are probably uttered by millions of people every day. But you will always be able to rationalize why it's not the 'right time.' There is no time like the present. So, the best time to do anything is now. Take that first step toward your goal. Waiting will only make you older, not wiser.
3. Balance self-interest with the collective good.
In relationships, there should be a balance between "self" and "other." I view it as a continuum. At one end of the spectrum you have the very selfish people. At the other end you have the selfless people. And most of us are somewhere in between. Yes, you should care about your own needs. But you should also care about other people's needs too. It's a balancing act that can be achieved if you try hard enough.
4. Put things in perspective before you jump to conclusions.
It's easy to jump to conclusions, but wise people remember that if they need to jump to the right conclusions. Emotions always run high when people are upset. While it's natural to do that, problems can occur when you engage in conflict with another person before you calm down. As I said in point 1, you need to think before you speak. But if you're too caught up in your anger, you're not going to think clearly. So take some time to calm down, put everything into perspective, and then review the facts not assumptions when you can think more logically.
5. Don't blindly accept the status quo.
Just because everyone does something doesn't mean you have to. I'm sure you've all heard of the "bandwagon" effect. It's the phenomenon that occurs when people act like lemmings and blindly follow the crowd. Instead, if you want to think like a wise person, step back from the crowd and observe. Ask why they are doing this. And ask yourself if you truly want to do it - or even if it's advisable to do so. Many times it's not. Bottom line: think for yourself.
6. Keep your power - don't let other people's negativity upset you.
Wise people realize that they are always in control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Most people let others' behavior affect them negatively. As a result, they let that negativity permeate their lives and make them miserable. Instead, let their bad behavior roll off your shoulders. If you get angry, then they have won. Own your power and keep your happiness by not allowing them to change you for the worse.
7. Don't act impulsively - have a purpose and a goal.
Being spontaneous can be fun ... if you're going on vacation or playing hooky from work one day. (Not that I'm suggesting you do that!) But in life, acting on impulse can lead to regrets. If you don't take the time to think things through, you might create problems. Wise people use a combination of their logic and intuition to come up with the best decisions possible.
8. Accept other people for who they are.
Let's face it, most people try to change others. Why do we do that? It's really pointless. I admit there was a time in my life when I tried to change others, too. But it doesn't work! People are who they are. If you don't like them, then you have the choice to leave the relationship, spend less time with them, or change your attitude. Accept who they are. You want to be accepted for who you are, right? Well, then live by the Golden Rule and give others the same respect.
9. The cover may be pretty, but the book might not be.
What I mean by this is that the "outer person" may not be the same as the "inner person." Wise people don't get blinded by charm, personality, or looks right away. Conversely, they are also not turned off by anyone who is not beautiful or charming on first impression, either. In other words, they take the time to get to know people and judge them on their inner self, not who they appear to be. Trust me, there can be a huge difference!
10. Don't judge others - try to understand them instead.
Above all else, truly wise people don't judge. They practice empathy. Empathy is truly putting yourself in another person's shoes and trying to see the situation from their point of view. That doesn't mean you have to agree with them. But it does mean that you need to recognize the fact that "perception is reality."
11. Think positive thoughts & repeat affirmations.
Let's face it - wise people are positive. However, they are human. And because of that, they are not immune to negative thoughts. But here's the difference - whenever a wise person recognizes negativity creeping into their minds, they immediately stop it and turn to something positive. They turn to reading positive quotes, or simply pick up a self-help book to help change the direction of their thoughts. It's habit to them, and it can become that to you too, if you just put some conscious effort into it.
Thinking like a wise person might seem difficult. However, all you need to do is train your mind and control your emotions. Easier said than done for many people, but it is possible to think wisely with practice. The more wise we all become, the happier the world will be!
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We have people like the Dalai Lama who is an incredibly wise and loved individual. He's spent years on this earth learning and studying.
On Tuesdays I write about the top voted question on Ask Berkun (see the archive). This week’s question is from Mike: How can you tell a wise person when you meet one?
If you can’t judge a book by its cover, how can you judge a person on their first impression? I’ve never liked the cliche about “you never get a second chance…” because it’s rarely true. Sure, if you spill a grande coffee on someone’s lap, or set an entire dining room on fire, that would be tricky to recover from on a first date, but most first interactions with people are terribly bland, no matter how wise either of you are. There just is no secret wise-person handshake nor a wise-person detection app for your phone.
Instead it takes an actual conversation with someone to learn who they are and how wise they might be. Starting conversations isn’t that hard, but there is a stupor that comes over most of us when we meet new people. Mostly, it goes like this: “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, you?” “I’m fine, thanks” <silence>. There’s not much chance to notice a wise person here. Our questionable social skills with strangers means there are hundreds of wise people we have met at parties, or stood next to at the bus stop, and never knew it.
I understand social anxiety and fear of embarrassment, but yet it’s still mystifying that after 10,000 years of civilized life our species still hasn’t recognized how little there is to lose in talking to strangers (in safe situations). Why not just assume they are wise or interesting? What is there really to lose if you’re wrong? It’s easy to end conversations with strangers and they likely didn’t even expect you to start one. Therefore, why not make an offer to get outside of the boring conventions of daily life we so often complain about? More to my point, it takes a bit of wisdom about wisdom to find wise people.
Wisdom means not only experience, but an understanding of how to apply life experience (the past) to the present. This means the most likely way to identify a wise person is to have a conversation about life, which likely means to talk about a shared, or personal, event that has already taken place. It’s in their own observations that their wisdom or insight will be revealed (or not). This could take the shape of lessons learned, of attitudes about relationships or work, or thoughts about regrets and future dreams.
Now it’d be weird to go up to a stranger, introduce yourself, and demand “tell me a personal story that reveals how wise you are”. Don’t do that. But in most social situations there is a fast path towards sharing stories. For example, at a party you can always ask anyone you don’t know: “how do you know <name of host of party>” which almost always has some kind of story as an answer (and you can show your curiosity by asking interesting questions about their story). And then you can reply with your own answer, but add some leading context that hints at a story, or question, of your own. Perhaps “We went to college together a decade ago, but I have to admit I’m not sure I belong here. There’s just too many people I don’t know.” Or even ask for advice about how to meet new people at events like this, a fun meta-trick (as by asking this to a new person you are using the question itself to solve them problem).
Perhaps my party socializing advice seems bound to fail, and you might be right. Maybe it’s easier to start with people we already know, like friends, coworkers and family. But even then there must be some kind of inciting event to wake another person up out of their daily routines and pay attention to the fact you are offering a more interesting kind of conversation. There is no guarantee they’ll be interested, or even understand that this is what you are offering. Yet if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you just overlooked a wise person. Someone has to (kindly) incite the chance for insight. To find wise people, you have to be wise enough, or perhaps just sufficiently bold, to reach out for them.
Part of the challenge in finding wise people is what we perceive as wisdom is filtered by the chemistry created by our personality meeting the personality of another. Someone can be very wise, but also irritating. For example I suspect Socrates, for all his wisdom, wasn’t particularly easy to get along with (yet the meetup group that bares his name can be a great way to meet wise people). Maybe you meet someone wise, but they offer their wisdom in a way that makes you feel belittled. Or they have bad breath, which you despise. Or maybe you don’t like their sense of humor, which diminishes your interest in their sage like thoughts. Just because they are wise doesn’t mean their wisdom will be palatable, or even comprehendible, to you.
If I had to list traits of someone wise, they’d include:
Which leads to the observation that wisdom isn’t a universal attribute. Some people are very wise about business, but are terribly ignorant about how healthy relationships work. Or they can give fantastic advice about life to others that they fail to practice in their own lives (a notorious failing of gurus, experts and authors too). The singular word wisdom doesn’t stretch to cover the complexities of how it, or it’s absence, plays out in a person’s life, or in the advice they give. People in their later years certainly have more life experience to work from, but that by no means guarantees they possess any more wisdom about life than someone much younger than they are: a person might accumulate ignorance, or bitterness, at the same, or a faster, rate than wisdom.
In the end, mostly what we want are interesting people who are interested in us. Who are friendly, perhaps charming, willing to share what they know and perhaps willing to listen for wisdom they don’t have in new people they meet. Framed this way the titular question of this essay is less daunting. Once you befriend one person with these attributes, it’s easier to find more. And who knows, maybe while we’re trying to find what we need, now and then we can be the “wise person” someone we meet (at a party) is looking to find.
Where have you met the wisest people you know? How did you recognize them? Leave a comment.
If you are looking for ways to be wise then look beyond your self-interest. A wise person will adhere to choices and judgements based on his.