Wisdom guards my thoughts, my words, and my ways.”– Psalms 39:1
We are so wrapped up in seeking to be better, skinnier, faster, and smarter that we miss the value of self-development. You can read all the “self-help” and personal development books in the world and apply what you learn, but one of the keys to a successful and rewarding life that is often overlooked is wisdom.
But what is wisdom? Wisdom enables us to see the big picture clearly. In short, wisdom is…
How do you gain more wisdom and knowledge? And then, what do you do with it? How do you learn to trust your inner wisdom and apply it to everyday life? Here are some ways to do that…
14 Ways to Use Wisdom in Your Everyday Life
1. Trust Yourself
“Trust your gut”. We’ve all heard this before, and many even live by it. But what does this mean? And is this truly effective, or are we just succumbing to our own cognitive biases?
There is a difference between being biased and paying attention to and trusting your instincts. It can take a lot of time and soul-searching to learn the difference between the two, but it is possible. This involves taking some time, separating facts from feelings, and really learning to listen.
2. Find a Healthy Dose of Pride
Pride is deadly. It is the first chapter in the book of failure. However, there is such thing as healthy pride and unhealthy pride. Here’s the difference:
Good pride = A deep sense of self-respect and confidence in your ability and confidence to do things
Bad pride = When one thinks too highly of him or herself and consistently puts his or her needs over others’ needs
Transform your moments of bad pride into good, and notice the results.
3. Maintain a Positive Mindset
Our level of focus determines our mindset. Feelings are not facts! Rather, feelings determine our level of focus and directly impact neuroplasticity. In short, neuroplasticity is how we modify our brains by patterns of thinking. It also plays a role in our ability to be creative and, conversely, our ability to procrastinate.
By making wise choices on what we should focus on, we can learn to “reshape” our brains. This is also known as strengthening the “System 2” in our brains, which influences our ability and capacity to feel, think, and act wisely.
4. Relinquish Control
If you are a “planner”, then this can be difficult. (I know, because I have struggled with this for years… and still do.) What have I learned? It’s okay to have goals and make plans to help you achieve them. Create calendars, checklists, to-do lists, and so on if that helps you, but remember to be “agile” and prepared to pivot when things change. Just know that there may be a greater plan at work—even greater than what you could imagine.
We try to imagine how everything in our lives will play out. We also might fixate on how to solve all the world’s problems at once. However, remember that this is impossible for one person, nor is it solely your responsibility. Remember to slow down, focus on what is within your control, and take one moment at a time.
5. Embrace Change
As humans, we dislike change. Change makes us uncomfortable. It’s uncertain. However, change is also inevitable. The best way to deal with change is to embrace it. Have your own change management model, or a process for embracing change in healthy ways.
Journaling is a helpful activity in many ways. One item on the lengthy list of benefits is journaling to get into the proper mindset. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can help you work through challenges and allow you to see problems—and, therefore, solutions—more clearly.
7. Protect Your Time
Protect your “focus” time. This is the time for you when you think, plan, or just be alone with your thoughts. We are often led to believe that being alone is a bad thing. Let’s clarify that: Loneliness can be an unhealthy thing, but regardless of your personality type, we all need time by ourselves from time to time to reset, refresh, re-center, and re-focus.
Personally, I’ve learned to schedule and protect my “deep work” or “focus” time. This can be writing in my journal, writing blogs, or reading. This is when I am truly at peace, where I can organize my thoughts and feelings, and focus, and also when I’m most creative.
8. Meditate, Pray, and Fast
Of course, we can’t really talk about wisdom without spirituality. If you are a spiritual being or soul, then you know the two go hand in hand. If you seek wisdom from a higher power, then the daily practice of meditation, praying, and even fasting can help you find the answers.
9. Choose Joy
When receiving negative or constructive feedback, rather than get down or hard on yourself, use it as an opportunity to learn. Use it as an opportunity to think creatively. Focusing on opportunities to learn, solve, and make a difference rather than negativity is a better use of your time and energy and is far more productive. You might even be surprised to discover how this practice changes your mindset and makes a better impact on your life.
By choosing positivity, you will find it easier to respond to and solve challenges and also turn those negatives into positives. Additionally, a positive mindset and attitude are contagious. If you are positive, others around you will catch your positive vibe.
10. Adopt an Always-learning Mindset
When you stop learning, you stop gaining wisdom and knowledge and applying it to your life and work. Remember, you are never too old to learn. Build ways to learn something new into your daily routine. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Post a poll on social media about a topic you want to learn more about. Take an online class. Join a webinar. Network. The most intelligent people are always open to and ready to learn.
11. Make Decisions
We make decisions every day. Sometimes we make decisions on a whim; others require more thought, deliberation, and time. Reaching our goals often seems impossible. However, by taking one day at a time, one step at a time, and one decision at a time, we get closer and closer each day.
Your current mental and emotional state can impact your decision-making abilities, both good and bad. Therefore, have a decision-making process. This could involve creating a “pros and cons” list or a decision-making matrix in a spreadsheet. By having a process, you can take the time to work through the facts, emotions, and principles. This will help you to arrive at the best possible decision.
12. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
We live in an incredibly materialistic society. As humans—and consumers—we always want more. We are so focused on what we don’t have and comparing ourselves and our situations with others that we lose gratefulness. (And, yes, social media only exemplifies this.)
Gratitude is one of the healthiest human emotions you can experience. Make it a habit every morning on your way to work, over coffee, during a family dinner, or even after a long day to be grateful and thankful for what you have—a beautiful home, a warm bed, a sleeping family, clothes to wear. There are millions of people who would love to be in your shoes. Never take even the smallest things in life for granted. Pursue life with gratitude.
13. Remember Your Purpose
If you feel unimportant or overlooked today, don’t stop investing in your purpose. Even if your task feels small, insignificant, or trivial, focus on the impact it can make. Regardless of what you’ve been assigned to do today, I’ve it your everything. Don’t get discouraged. Hard work is always rewarded.
14. Have Faith
Faith looks different for each person. Faith can mean believing in God or another deity. It can mean believing in your work. But, remember, always have faith in yourself. Stand by your beliefs, your principles, and your boundaries.
Be Present and in the Moment
As mentioned above, you don’t have to constantly be in the driver’s seat controlling every aspect of your life. And honestly, why would you want that responsibility? I’m not saying getting up every day and sitting around doing nothing and thinking, “Welp… I’ll just sit here and wait for the universe to tell me to do something.” I’m talking about learning to let go of some control and trusting your inner wisdom to guide you.
All in all, focus on what you can control. Focus on being the best person you can be, and bring your best to the absolute max daily. Everything else around you will fall into place.