10 Lessons from the World’s Wisest People

by Johan Olers

1. Be here now

Wise people are attuned to the present moment. Mindful awareness comes naturally to them after years of practice. They know that infinite possibilities arise from being mindful and present. If one is not paying attention, dangers can cause havoc and opportunities can be ignored or allowed to pass by. When one does pay attention, everything becomes one’s teacher.

Wise people also know that the past and the future are illusions. One can strive for a goal via deliberate actions in the present moment, but if one is lost in the goal itself, one ceases to be present, and loses the power to influence the future. The future is built on the quality of one’s actions in the present moment.

2. Perception is everything

All perception is subjective. The wisest people find value and learning in all things. This is not false bravado or forced positive thinking – it is completely authentic, as a truly wise person genuinely understands probability and risk, and sees potential where others see nothing.

A wise person knows that even from empty mud, one can grow a farm or a forest if the right seeds are planted. New solutions are always bubbling forward from a basic positive position of being completely realistic, and completely optimistic. Optimism has been learned via experience, in what some call “learned optimism.”

3. Be grateful for what you have

When one wants something more, one can’t fully enjoy what one already has, one is always seeking and yearning on a perpetual treadmill. Wise people know how to stop, be still and breathe, appreciating the view from the top of the mountain.

Wise people enjoy the sunset because they know they have worked the whole day to arrive at this Solo Travelers, which will not last indefinitely.

Life is constantly changing, and when the fruits of one’s success arrive, a wise person knows that celebrating and enjoying those fruits is essential to their souls.

4. Be patient and know the value of time

Wise people understand and use time discerningly as they know from experience when the seasons are changing, when they need to sow, and when they need to reap. Wise people are patient – they know the value of compound interest, and the results one obtains from repeated actions.

When one goes to shake a mango tree trying to get the mangoes to fall, it will lead to frustration. Wise people are effective and act strategically to get the results they seek.

When one is still, what one is watching is still too. Wise people don’t chase stuff for the sake of acquisition.

Wise people know that it doesn’t only count what one attains. The measure of a wise person is what they let go of – how did they leave the world a better place.

5. Follow the middle path

The Buddha taught this as a directive for living. Although in most cases, common-sense dictates how one responds to life, the wisest people have an innate sense of balance, attention to detail and understanding of the big picture which guides and supports their behaviour throughout their lives.

Mostly, wise people will always take the middle path of moderation in all things.

6. Be impeccable with your word in conduct and understanding

In the Toltec wisdom book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz’s first agreement is to be impeccable with your word.

Ruiz defines it thusly – “Impeccability means ‘without sin.’ Impeccable comes from the Latin pectus, which means ‘sin.’ The ‘im’ in impeccable means ‘without,’ so impeccable means ‘without sin.’

A sin is something that is against ur will and you know it is wrong and you still do it.

Wise people take responsibility for their words, deeds and actions, yet do so without judging or blaming themselves for getting it wrong. They are absolutely in tune with themselves and the world.

A wise person places a high value on their word, and hence impeccability – they follow a code of ethical conduct and value the highest standards in behaviour and propriety.

7. Trust your own judgment

A wise person relies on his own inner wisdom and experience. Independent thinking means leading and not following.

When one only contemplates, one can come to understand the nature of things. Yet, too much-thinking clouds judgment and wisdom in practical affairs.

Thoughts are signposts – point out where things are. They are not the things themselves. A sign for a toilet tells you where to go. An intellectual makes the mistake of confusing the signpost for the thing itself.

Many people make a  mistake “learning how to think” with wisdom. They can be stupid in life, because they rely on intellectual ideas more than real experience, lived experience.

Step into the world – that’s where wisdom comes from. Learning how to feel, to really see things how they are, instead of commenting on them (thinking).

Wise people experience the world for themselves and have learnt to be masters via experience. They step into the world and in learning to be skilful, they obtain wisdom. They do not believe something just because it is taught by an authority – rather a wise person is his own authority.

8. Learn from your mistakes

Wise people reframe their experiences to see the value and the learning in disappointments. Every failure carries the seed of success. Thomas Edison knew that every failed attempt was a step closer to discovering the light bulb.

Getting lost can be a great adventure – it can also lead us somewhere even better than our original destination. Wise people are willing to get lost on purpose.

A wise person all seeks the learning in is experiences, so that next time, he may get even better.

9. Know the value of good health

Wise people know that there is a limitation placed on time and energy. Personal power, longevity, happiness and productivity is enhanced by good health.

Wise people dedicate time and effort to improving and building their Qi (energy). The Tao masters were after immortality. All the great martial arts traditions from Tai Chi to Karate focus on understanding health and increasing energy and power.

Wise people live longer. The habits of wise people will always include a high value placed on life. Wise people value life itself.

10. Contribute to society

Wise people give and share with others, as they know that what matters is not just what they can take, but also what they can give – for all things need to be in balance. They also give without expectation of reward.

Wise people understand the value of purpose.

They know that they are a part of the world. Just as a bee has a purpose, so too, do all people have a purpose.

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