Monday, March 17, 2014

Some homilies on wisdom - older and wiser.

Because at ~72 years of age I am becoming more aware of how much time I have left rather than how long I have lived, I enjoyed a recent article by Phyllis Korkki. Here are some clips, edits, and paraphrases from the article:

Wisdom defined as maintaining positive well-being and kindness in the face of challenges is one of the most important qualities one can possess to age successfully.

In a 1970’s study by Vivian Clayton, decision makers asked to characterize a wise person stressed three key components: cognition, reflection and compassion.

Elkhonon Goldberg, a neuroscientist in New York and author of “The Wisdom Paradox,” says that “cognitive templates” develop in the older brain based on pattern recognition, and that these can form the basis for wise behavior and decisions.

…acceptance of aging is necessary for growth, but it’s not a resigned acceptance; it’s an embracing acceptance.

From Ursula Staudinger, a life span psychologist and professor at Columbia University: True personal wisdom involves five elements. They are self-insight; the ability to demonstrate personal growth; self-awareness in terms of your historical era and your family history; understanding that priorities and values, including your own, are not absolute; and an awareness of life’s ambiguities.

Modern definitions of wisdom tend to stress kindness, a reduction in self-centeredness, understanding situations from multiple perspectives, showing tolerance as a result

There’s evidence that people who rank high in neuroticism (tendency to be in a negative state for long periods of time) are unlikely to be wise…They see things in a self-centered and negative way and so they fail to benefit emotionally from experience, even though they may be very intelligent.

Daniel Goleman (author of “Emotional Intelligence”: One aspect of wisdom is having a very wide horizon which doesn’t center on ourselves, or even on our group or organization…an important sign of wisdom is “generativity,” a term used by the psychologist Erik Erikson… Generativity means giving back without needing anything in return…The form of giving back could be creative, social, personal or financial.

,,,there’s a point in life when a fundamental shift occurs, and people start thinking about how much time they have left rather than how long they have lived. Reflecting on the meaning and structure of their lives can help people thrive after the balance shifts and there is much less time left than has gone before.

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