For me, age has benefit: As I get older, I find myself more willing to seek out and take advice; and I have lived long enough to gain some valuable experience. The other day Kim and I went with our daughters and some of their friends to watch “17 Again,” starring Zac Efron. In this movie a middle-aged man had a chance to live life over again. He returned to age seventeen, only to find his former life really was good; he had misunderstood his adulthood and now longed to go back. Do we really need to experience to learn, or can we take life-lessons from trusted advisors and live better?
Teenagers bear the brunt of most criticism for not taking or following advice. I would argue that each of us (every age group) is involved in some type of avoidance with openness toward words of wisdom. Teenagers are living at a time in which there is heightened attention paid to their lives as they are in their molding years. They are still at an age where adults feel we can push harder toward acceptance of our ideals because of their age. If you think about it, we do not have these same expectations placed on relationships of those who are older. We hope our advice is taken when given in love, but we have greater empathy when it is not followed. So why bring this up? I do so only to suggest we should never get to an age where friendly advice is not sought after or followed.
Wisdom comes to us in a variety of methods. One way is gaining knowledge and experience by learning life-lessons first hand. This understanding of wisdom is deeply rooted in our psyche as it comes with direct and personal emotion. Learning wisdom by experience is the most difficult method as sometimes we have to learn some life-lessons the hard way–through painful consequences.
Another way to gain wisdom is through watching others and learning from their experiences. This method, I believe, is preferred to direct experience as we do not have to learn as many difficult lessons and have more time to pursue positive life paths. Yet, the best method may be the one most difficult to master and could come later in life as you move through direct experience and learning from others. It is intuitive discernment by reflection. At this level one can put together life-lessons or experiences and observations of others to gain an understanding of anticipated outcomes. Those who can master wisdom at this level are rare and of great worth to each of us. These individuals we should seek after, hoping to glean some of their understanding.
By obtaining wisdom our lives are benefited since growth is gained at a much quicker pace. We are blessed with greater discernment, making joys in life long-lasting and expressed deep within our souls. We are capable of participating in the improvement of society as we have knowledge of the big picture. Our sincerity gives others an example, opening doors for their soliciting of our observations. As we participate in the growth of others, our wisdom is magnified and we begin to master the highest level of wisdom.
No matter your age, no matter your experience, no matter your understanding, seek out the knowledge of your fellow beings. Learn from your own experiences, make observations of others, but be wise enough to know the value of another’s opinion. Seek out those who love you, those who have your best interest at heart, and those who are trusted advisors. Know your path to any desired outcome is quicker and easier by asking someone who has taken the same route or who has gained an understanding through knowledge. Never be too old, too smart, or too stubborn to seek wisdom.