Wisdom Is A Skill: Part 3
How living from your “wise mind” leads to a wise heart
In Part 2 of this series on Wisdom is a Skill, we covered living from the wise mind; how to recognize that mind state, and how to find yourself in that balanced place more often.
What is really beautiful about living from a wise mind, is that it encourages you to naturally cultivate the traits that we all associate with wisdom. For example, psychologists have found open-mindedness to be one of the traits associated with wisdom. By being mindful (aware without judgment) of your thoughts and feelings, you will notice that you have emotions that conflict with your rational thoughts and vice versa, or you might find yourself questioning something you had believed to be true. As you are more open to your own mind, you become more open-minded in your approach to others and to life itself; which I view as a wise heart.
Wise people understand the limits of their knowledge, and because of that, they are more open to take different perspectives into account and consider diverse viewpoints. This intellectual humility allows them a greater sense of compassion for themselves, and the perspective to view the self as just another human going through the school of life.
We can also develop more compassion towards others as this humility allows us to be more open to other viewpoints. This is how the wise mind expands into a wise heart and lets us act through wisdom.
The wise heart as a personal practice
When we practice acting from the wise mind, it begins to feel natural. We start to develop a personal philosophy; a way of guiding our lives based upon the fundamental truths we have discovered about ourselves, the world, and our relationship to/in it.
For those of us who are religious, we may look to the teachings of our tradition to show us how to cultivate wisdom, and in that way, we practice the teachings that we follow. For those of us who do not follow one spiritual path, practicing the skill of wisdom is a way to create our own path. As we discover what rings true for us, we shape our personal philosophy; which are the principles that we live by.
Living from your personal philosophy is a way to practice wisdom
As Stephen R. Covey says “If you’re looking to create a timeless sense of purpose and to shape the overall mission of your life, then you should use principles. Establishing a set of principles creates a compass to which you can refer whenever something is in doubt or you need to take a stand or evaluate any particular opportunity, behavior, or situation.”
Developing a personal philosophy can be a grounding base to live from. Even if you do follow a spiritual or religious path, you can personalize those teachings and prioritize where your focus lies, or reflect on what areas need more practice to become second nature.
For more specific how-to: here is an article on how to draft your own personal philosophy.
If you are someone (like me), who doesn’t love formal explorations and wants to organically find your philosophy, just use mindfulness. Practice being in your wise mind and notice what traits repeatedly surface. Does your wise mind feel compassionate? Curious? Open? I name these because those are a few of the big ones that come up for me, but we all have our unique combinations. Finding these characteristics and using them as guiding principles is the way to practice the skill of wisdom. My personal desire is to recognize more of them and integrate them into my personal philosophy as I cultivate more wisdom throughout my life.
When I experience something that upsets me, often I can see that it is at odds with one of the principles I hold dear, and just knowing that helps me be okay with feeling the associated emotions. This feedback actually reinforces the benefits of focusing on the wise mind because I can see how it’s helping me to stay balanced. Instead of dismissing emotions that I’d rather not feel, I can use my rational mind to allow them into the balanced center.
So returning to the title, and my original assertion; Wisdom is a skill. A skill is the knowledge and ability that enables you to do something well. Wisdom is something you practice in order to live well, and it is through living that you hone that skill. In my view, it is what this school of life is all about.