The most influential factor in the development of wisdom appears to be an openness to experience and different modes of representing experience. Wisdom appears to stem from a capacity to reflect on and grapple with difficult existential life issues.
Wise people are not Pollyannaish. They are willing to explore the shadow side of life and are capable of expressing the wide array of human emotions in such a way as to derive meaning. This fosters a general sense of hopeful-ness. They seem able to first embrace and then transcend self-concerns to integrate their capacity for introspection with a deep and abiding concern for human relationships and generative concern for others.
Consequently, they reflect global concerns in their understanding of human issues and also project a sense of ease with themselves and others, as well as warmth and compassion. Consequently, wisdom as currently defined and measured in Western Psychology appears to have benefits both for the mental health and well-being of both the sage and those who are impacted by the sage’s actions.
To put this in the form of poetry – Rudyard Kipling’s poem IF, read by Sir Michael Cane fits (once again, because it’s so personal to me!)
More from Kaufman;
Thus, wisdom involves exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge about the conditions of life and human affairs and reflective judgment about the application of this knowledge. In order to exert judgment about when knowledge is applicable in a complex, dynamic human sphere, it is important to reflect on one’s own subjective standpoint to consider alternative frameworks and to be receptive to alternative modes of representation
Wise people are particularly adept at taking the perspective of others and providing a safe setting in which others can explore their own values, thoughts, actions, and decisions. By all research accounts thus far, it would be a useful skill for society to promote in its citizens because of the generative concern shown by wise individuals and their ability to engage others in an accepting, compassionate manner without judgment.
Wisdom has been conceptualized as:
(1) a rare, highly exercised and developed form of cognitive expertise about the domain of human affairs that allows for multiple conduits or
(2) a constellation of personal attributes reflecting a high degree of cognitive, affective, and behavioral maturity that allows for an unusual degree of sensitivity, broad-mindedness, and concern for humanity.
Using either conceptualization, wisdom research shows that it is a rare achievement, most often evolving
from unusual life experiences that foster introspection, reflection on the human condition, and counseling others. Openness to experience is the most frequent predictor of wisdom. Wise people are also found to think more dialectically, exhibit generativity and compassionate concern for others, and accept life’s limitations. Wise people show less despair and less dissatisfaction by grappling with existential issues and finding purpose and meaning in adverse experiences.
When in doubt, turn to the Stoics