By Donald Latumahina
Do you want to be a wise person? I certainly do, and I believe you do too. Being wise is different from just being smart though. Here is a definition of wise from Dictionary.com:
having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.
And, to complement that, here is Wikipedia’s definition of wisdom:
Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding.
As a comparison, here is a definition of smart from Dictionary.com:
having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability.
So, as you can see, being wise is more than just being smart. Being wise is about the ability to make the right assessment of a situation and, from there, to know what to do. It’s about making the right decision given the situation you are in.
From this understanding, it’s obvious that being wise is essential to live a full life. The wiser you are, the more likely you are to live a full life. Why? Because it helps you make the right decisions in life.
So the question is: how can we be wise?
Well, there could be other ways, but there is one that I believe is essential:
If you want to be wise, you must learn to see the big picture.
Yes, the big picture. It’s essential. Let me explain why.
Making the right decision depends on making the right assessment of a situation. But to make the right assessment, you need to understand the big picture. You need to understand the context of the situation and how everything fits in. Only then will you be able to assess the situation correctly and, from that, to make the right decision.
This, unfortunately, is not how many people live. Instead, they are so busy with the details of their lives that they can no longer see the big picture. As a result, they tend to just follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. Or they just follow their natural inclinations. Obviously, this is not a good way to live.
I’m not going to go into details in this post, but here are a few things you can do to see the big picture:
- Learn how the world works
To see the big picture, you need to understand how the world works. This way you can see how your situation fits in the present world. Among others, it means learning about globalization, technologies, new trends, and the global economy.
- Learn history
While the point above deals only with the present world, you also need to see how the present world fits within the larger context of history. This will give you a deeper insight of your situation. Moreover, there are many events in history that you can learn something from.
- Read biographies
As I wrote in How to Learn About Life, a good way to learn about life is to learn from the lives of exceptional people. Through their biographies, you can see the big picture of their lives, along with their good and bad decisions. This will enrich your life and help you see your life in a new way.
- Check your life map and patterns
Talking about the big picture, you should also see the big picture of your own life. One way to do this is to create a life map. It helps you see how your life has been throughout the years. This, in turn, will help you make strategic decision for your life. You should also find patterns in your life such as your passions and things you care about. It will help you figure out the right direction to go to.
- Have a regular “think time”
While all the points above can help you see the big picture, it’s easy to lose sight of it because of one thing: busyness. Once you get busy with the details of your life, it’s easy to forget the big picture. So it’s important that you take time away from your busyness to connect again with the big picture. It can be in the form of reflection time, prayer, or whatever it is that works for you.