Friday, May 31, 2019

What Does It Mean to be Wise?

What is wisdom, exactly? Hard to define, but most of us agree that we know it when we see it.

The Oxford Dictionary defines wisdom as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment, and the soundness of an action or decision in regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

So, in short the ability to take what you have learned in your lifetime and apply it to future situations.

And how do we gain good judgment? Well....

I always felt like I was a wise person. One who learned from their mistakes and able to apply it to future situations, getting a little bit better, smarter, more confident, as I  continued to grow and learn. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, and all that jazz.

I felt like my experiences were like little fireflies I could capture in a jar, study, and take out as needed to guide me through the next sticky situation.

Of course there were times when I failed to go through my firefly collection and choose a proper navigator, and I had to earn a new one, but that was okay because then I had two (or perhaps sometimes more) in that one jar. Eventually, that life lesson would be so bright, I couldn't possibly ignore it any longer.

I was so proud of my collection. After all, it took me 44 years to accumulate all that wisdom. I could sit back and mentally peruse my shelf of hundreds of lessons earned through plenty of bad judgment, knowledge and experience, and pat myself on the back knowing they will guide me through almost any future situation.

My splendid golden armor has served me well to survive growing pains, teen drama, broken friendships, bad relationships, toxic family, frenemies, and co-workers. My fireflies of wisdom whispered in my ear, how to say the right thing, wear the right thing, participate in the right thing, so I avoid the sting of rejection.

Then, I stumbled across this quote somewhere......

Did this mean I should be letting some of my precious pets go?  That thought made me want to gather them even closer. It took a lot of falling on my ass to accumulate this much wisdom. The thought of letting them go sent a shiver down my spine.

However, as I started looking at what I had collected through the years, I realized that although my pets serve me well, perhaps they were guiding me away from the most important things.

Like when I compromised so arguments and unpleasantness was avoided, even when that meant being quiet when I knew something wasn't right or it met I gave up what I really wanted.

Like how to become successful even though it sometimes meant that I missed important events and time with those I hold most dear for a cause or experience I didn't believe in or need any longer.

Every time past experience had me saying yes because I was too afraid to say no.

I realized at this point in my life, I am no longer looking to survive, but to thrive, and one can only thrive when they live authentically.

When I say authentic, I mean the BrenĂ© Brown definition defined as the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries. 

I cannot be imperfect and vulnerable while I am so busy caring for all these little jars of accumulated knowledge, experience, and judgment, and I cannot set boundaries until I know what I want, and what I feel I deserve.

Once I am clear on my values, I can decide which fireflies have earned their retirement. So far I have said goodbye to these gems.

The need to be right, to prove myself, or to hustle for acceptance and approval.

The fear of calling out something that isn't right because it might make me and others uncomfortable. Speak with kindness and good intent and let the rest go.

The need to workout and deprive myself of joyfully eating what I want so I look a certain way. I want to be healthy of course, but sometimes I want a chocolate croissant.

Comparing myself to others to gauge how I'm doing as a mother, wife, friend, person, homeroom mom, etc., which leads me to participating in a whole lot of stuff I don't to want to, to avoid the fear of missing out. (Not my circus, not my monkeys).

The need to appear busy for the sake of being busy.

Today wisdom for me is being able to define what is truly important. That list can probably be summed up in 10 items or less.  If my house burned down, what would I grab on my way out kind of things.

Wisdom is striving to remain curious, and embracing and loving who I am with all my faults and screwups. 

Wisdom is letting go of trying to fix what is supposedly broken, and embracing what is right about me and about life. In order to travel this road, I need less baggage not more, so, I am paring down my life, both my physical things and the mental baggage I've been hoarding.

I am sure there are a whole lot of other jars that will need to be aired out and released, and as I am setting my boundaries and continuing to define what wisdom means to me, I'll take them down from their shelf, look at them, and question whether or not they still serve me. If they don't, then like my size 4 jeans, I will let them go and move on to more important things, like having donuts with my kids more often.