How Wisdom Is Different From Knowledge

  • Time to read: 7 min.

Wisdom and knowledge are similar since they are both related to knowing something.

Understanding the differences and similarities and how to utilize each to benefit your life is where the magic begins.

Meaning Of Wisdom And Knowledge

Wisdom is when you apply general truths in a situation, which results in intuitive awareness and sound judgment. A term often associated with wisdom is common sense and includes the motives to do better and be well based on your attained knowledge. There is also detailed research that actually measures wisdom on different components of a persons life.

Then there is knowledge.  Knowledge is gathering information or facts about a specific subject matter or experience. It is when you have the conventional thought to do what is correct for the well-being of yourself or others.

For instance, you may have listened to someone say that their current life circumstances or living conditions are poor. When they were a child, life was intolerable, preventing them from being productive as adults today. This example is knowledge-based as it displays a way of thinking or beliefs that are conditioned, or set within you, in a world of ever-changing circumstances.

In contrast, the person with wisdom will take the knowledge of this example and work to overcome the past circumstances. Then, they rise above the situation to be better than their surroundings due to their hunger and aptitude.

Wisdom and knowledge are similar since they are both related to knowing something. However, wisdom is more associated with wisdom gained from personal experiences, while knowledge relates to studying and memorizing facts.

Wisdom or knowledge in the simplest terms condenses down to:

  1. Living based on the what is questions in life=knowledge.
  2. Knowledge utilized to discern and see, from a removed perspective, each interaction in life is unique and explores the whys=wisdom.

What Makes Up Wisdom?

Wisdom has several aspects and each attaches to the next like a chain. When used together, they are stronger, much like a braided rope.

1. Experience

Experience is taking your book learning to a job position and physically completing tasks that you read about. You may be fearful of this process as you know the steps in your head but wonder if you will be able to complete the steps.

Imagine the first day of a resident doctor. They have learned many things and now they need to begin experiencing people, situations, noises, fatigue, others opinions, judgment from the supervisors, perform procedures on real people.

They know how to do it in a controlled environment, but the experience in a non controlled environment begins for them.

2. Understanding 

As we practice the knowledge in real world situations, our understanding of the relationship with the book learning and others in our world begins to grow. We begin to understand how the knowledge we have functions in varying environments and impacts our and others beliefs.

3. An unbiased judgment

Next we begin to judge when to use what part of the knowledge we have and when not to use it. Ideally, we are trying to make these judgments with no bias and thinking about the world or situation based on facts or knowledge rather than our emotions, feelings or beliefs.

4. Insight

The last link in the chain is our insight. Our knowledge and wisdom begin to work hand in hand, and we begin to follow our intuition. We trust our inner knowing as we have the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to lead from our intuition.

Wisdom Is Timeless

The basis of wisdom is from its source; it’s from the self. Wisdom is eternal or timeless and develops from our knowledge when we use that knowledge actively. 

This process includes who the person is as well as their character that has been defined and refined through experiences. You may forget the knowledge you learned about a subject, but you will most likely recall the experience you had.

For example, I wanted to play a musical instrument.  My choice was a guitar or a guitar, so I chose a guitar. As a result, I learned about notes, chords, tuning the guitar, picking, strumming, and beats. With each passing day that I played, I began to experience the sound of the notes and how they vibrated within me and my environment. My wisdom developed as my experiences playing the guitar increased.

Today I do not recall everything I learned when younger. However, I play the guitar from time to time, and the memory of my experiences and how to recreate the sounds I once did are still a part of me, my wisdom.

How To Gain Wisdom?

There are five steps to gaining wisdom. These five steps will help you gain wisdom by challenging your current worldview to see if it makes sense in light of new evidence.

1. Make yourself accountable for your beliefs. Challenge your beliefs and challenge your reasoning about moral problems. Start with more minor views, such as going against what you believe just because someone else thinks it or try sticking up for someone picked on.

2. Consider opposing views. You can consider opposing views by thinking them through without automatically rejecting them. For example, if there is a particular news source that you usually read, find an opinion from another news source that opposes it and try to think about why the other view could be correct.

3. Think about how your actions affect others. When you begin to think about how your actions may affect another, you will start to open yourself up to seeing things from their point of view. If you are typically only looking for what’s terrible in something or someone, then challenge yourself to search for at least one good thing as well.

4. Reason through ideas rather than emotions. Reason through using facts and logical explanations instead of just “sounding off” with your feelings and letting those feelings stand as facts too. Think about the ideas behind what you are saying instead of just repeating phrases. For example, if someone says “______ is wrong,” that’s an opinion, not a fact. You need to explain why you are holding that opinion instead of just stating it.

5. Practice emotional self-control. Emotions tell us many things about ourselves. They keep us safe and guide us. However, emotions are changeable and often change minute to minute, so try keeping your emotions out of your thoughts and there will be less chance for them to cloud your judgment. Living life mindfully can assist you in gaining wisdom. 

The Positive Effects Of Gaining Wisdom

Every day we grow through our experiences, interacting with our environment, with others, within ourselves.  Gaining wisdom in our growth offers many positive outcomes to our lives.

  • The ability to change your thoughts and feelings towards others.
  • Changing how you view other people’s lives.
  • Feeling less offended by others’ behavior toward you.
  • Seeing other individuals as unique human beings instead of a member of a group.
  • Having better relationships with friends/family/partners.
  • Feeling more in control of your life.
  • You will see yourself developing more rational views on issues and feeling more comfortable seeing other people make their own choices even if they go against what you believe.
  • You will be more open to other people’s points of view and feel less offended by their behavior towards you.
  • You will gain more knowledge which will enrich your life further.
  • You will develop better relationships with friends/family/partners.
  • You will notice that when an idea comes up in a moral debate with opposing views, you will be able to stick to the facts rather than getting caught up in emotions.
  • You will see yourself feeling more in control of your life because by being able to look at all angles before going into something, there won’t be many times when you are surprised by your actions.

Is Wisdom Needed In Your Life?

Many believe that as you age, you gain wisdom, and for the most part, this is true. The older you are, the more knowledge and experiences you have achieved. However, many go through life and have little or no wisdom. This is seen in those that have not embraced accountability or will not consider opposing views. They do not care how their actions affect others, do not reason things through ideas rather than emotion, and do not have emotional self-control.

We are all on a path, a journey, so each of us will sojourn forth accordingly. Yes, wisdom is helpful to every person.

Wisdom Is More Than Knowledge Only

Knowledge on a subject is available to read or hear, whereas wisdom is not readily available. 

In today’s society, wisdom is becoming less important as schools cannot reproduce wisdom in a classroom, but they can provide knowledge. Our social worlds are changing to an information and knowledge gathering environment. As a result, meaningful interactions between people have lessened. So practicing knowledge obtained to increase our experiences and wisdom has also diminished.

Many companies are looking for people with wisdom to be change-makers and create growth in today’s society. Although an individual may have more than typical training at a college or university, wisdom is contingent on how the person uses that information to be efficient in their field and in life.

Final Thought

Knowledge is what opens the door, wisdom is knowing when to open the door.

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