How Might We Become Wiser?

March 3, 2022

How Might We Become Wiser?

May 29, 2023

Chip’s February 24th Wisdom Well post “How Wise Are You?” about the work of Dilip Jeste triggered this response from me:

Chip: I've been contemplating Jeste's work for over a year now and have found that while his observations seem true, his work hasn't really offered a path towards wisdom. As a result, I've synthesized his seven (components of wisdom) down to two: discernment and decision-making. The way I see wisdom, it's the ability to discern what matters in any given situation and decide what the optimal response might be. In order to do so, it seems to me that one must actualize Jeste's seven (components). By becoming a student of discernment and decision-making, it's been my experience that one can be more intentional about becoming wiser.

A little context: I primarily (though not exclusively) teach, train, and coach financial advisors. I’ve long felt that the most valuable service that advisors could offer their clients would be to serve as a wise guide, a source of wisdom, particularly when it comes to money. It’s been my experience that people generally don’t know how to think about money or how to deal with their emotional baggage when it comes to money. Instead, they’re buffeted by fear, greed, past conditioning, social norms, comparisons, etc. In short, it’s rare to encounter someone who’s truly wise when it comes to money and wealth and even rarer to find someone who can guide others wisely.

So, how might we become wiser?

The Serenity Prayer begins:

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

Besides praying for wisdom, how might we become wiser?

So, back to Dilip Jeste’s work, here are Jeste’s seven components of wisdom:

  • self-reflection
  • pro-social behaviors (empathy, compassion, and altruism)
  • emotional regulation
  • acceptance of diverse perspectives
  • decisiveness
  • social advising (giving rational and helpful advice to others)
  • spirituality

Let me ask you this: do these seven factors apply when it comes to discerning what matters? Bring to mind challenging topics like the Ukraine, Covid, the Great Resignation, inflation, politics, social media…it’s easy to get swept up in the chaos; it’s easy to get overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, anger, malaise or other not-so-wise states of being. Now ask yourself, given everything that’s going on right now, what really matters (discernment)? What’s the optimal thing to be doing, especially with your resources (decision-making)? If we can be wise in our ability to judge well and then decisively move forward with our path, we and the world are better off for it.

It's been my experience that frequently asking these two questions and diligently pursuing the answers inevitably leads to Jeste’s seven components of wisdom. Furthermore, over time this form of wisdom seeking can become a path of growth and learning.

Ron Nakamoto is an MEA Corazon member, a member of the Modern Elders on the Loose cohort, and a 2-time Sabbatical Sessions participant.

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