Word of the Month: Wisdom

Where does wisdom come from? It seems to mostly arise from many years of life experience. Occasionally we meet a young person who seems unusually wise, but for most of us, wisdom emerges from the sorrows and joys that we experience over the decades. The author Dorothy McCall noted, “One cannot have wisdom without living life.”

Wisdom is often associated with having perspective, seeing the big picture, being philosophical. For example, after we have dealt with dire circumstances in our lives, it’s then easier to put minor troubles in perspective; we know how much worse things can be. Wisdom can help us to appreciate the high points of our lives—the celebrations, the accomplishments, the rewards; when we are aware of how soon such things will be behind us, we can savor them more as they occur. So in both difficult and joyful times, the perspective that wisdom provides can benefit us.

Wise sayings and writings of other people can also benefit us. But if we don’t have extensive life experience that we can test those sayings and writings against, that benefit can be very limited. When it comes to words of wisdom, one of my favorite sayings is “This too shall pass.” It’s a concise reminder that everything changes: A terrible event eventually ends and so does a happy event. That’s simply the nature of existence. What are your favorite words of wisdom?

See more features from the March 2014 issue