Exercising mature thinking and learning wisdom from experience

Older but Wiser?

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Are we guaranteed to be wiser and more mature in ten or fifteen years than we are today? Looking back, can we see the evidence of greater wisdom and understanding in our own lives today compared to a decade ago? If you have never put much thought into this subject, the answer might be “no”—but that could change.

As young children, our bodies and minds grow at staggering rates. Physically, a child’s brain is more "plastic"—meaning it is more ready and able to learn than an adult’s. There is good reason for this since everything infants and toddlers encounter is new. So it makes sense that children would gain knowledge and understanding about the world as they grow. The wisdom and maturity accumulated by children are almost automatic, but what about the rest of us?

Our physical bodies automatically mature with age, but is that true for our emotional and intellectual growth, as well? We could answer this question ourselves by observing the people whom we have known for decades, perhaps since high school. Some of our old classmates have done well and reflect wiser and mature personalities. Other classmates seem to be caught in a time warp; they have the same level of thinking and the same habits as they did 15 or 20 years ago. What is the difference?

Those who mature in their thinking and conduct have made the choice to learn from the experiences life has dealt them. They have internalized the consequences of daily living. For example, My wife and I once decided to try a new French restaurant close to our home. We knew the restaurant specialized in breakfast and lunch so we decided to go one Sunday morning for breakfast. When we pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 a.m. we quickly noticed the parking lot was empty and the restaurant was closed. We were understandably perplexed.

There were two directions our conduct and thinking could have taken us at this point. One would have been to get mad and leave a nasty note on the door of the restaurant questioning the establishment’s priorities. Another more sensible option was for us to internalize the scenario and think of how we could have done better, which we did. We agreed that it would have been prudent to inquire earlier in the week about their specific hours and days of operation.

If we had chosen the path of anger, we really would not have taken responsibility for our actions. We would instead have blamed the restaurant and not learned anything that would benefit us in the future. We would have experienced zero growth intellectually or in maturity.

However, by internalizing the event and taking personal responsibility for our actions, we gained more knowledge and wisdom that could be applied to the next episode. By making ourselves accountable for the experience, we were able to sharpen the edge of our wisdom and grow a little more toward full maturity.

We all have the same choice during our busy day whether at home, at work, or dealing with traffic. We can either blame “the other guy” or we can choose to take the high road of inner reflection. By doing so, we seek to understand how our actions might, in fact, lead us to the undesirable results we face. Internalizing the results of our actions means taking the brunt of responsibility, enabling us to improve and learn.

This principle is reflected throughout your Holy Bible and succinctly stated by the Apostle Peter, who tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge” of Jesus Christ and to add self-control, knowledge, and virtue to our list of desirable traits (2 Peter 1:6; 3:18). In fact, all of the Holy Scripture is profitable for instruction and correction (2 Timothy 3:16).

If you would like direction and encouragement toward personal growth, there is no greater book than the Holy Bible. To aid you in your study, please sign up for our free Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course and gain life-changing insights not available anywhere else. Also, be sure to watch the insightful telecast “You Can Be a Success!” today.

  Originally Published: 19th September 2013