Wisdom is not imparted but cultivated

Are you in need of direction, guidance or discernment in your life? Maybe you are facing a big decision, considering a major change, dealing with a difficult circumstance, or uncertain about a course of action. These and countless other times on our human journey, we wish for the wisdom to know how to proceed. 

We often wish the answer, insight, or understanding we need for our lives would magically appear, fall from the sky, or be supernaturally revealed to us. But consider the possibility that accessing the necessary guidance and discernment we need is closer than you think. 

There are at least six tools to use in acquiring the insight and wisdom we need:


We think of intuition as a mystical phenomenon, but hunches are formed out of our past experiences and knowledge. Listening to a hunch is not nearly as flighty a tactic as it may sound. A good question to ask yourself about an area of your life where you need discernment would be: What does my gut tell me?

Common Sense and Reason 

Truth that you can base your life and wellbeing upon is often simple and straightforward and can typically be accessed through common sense and reason. Common sense is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. Unfortunately, common sense is not that common today, but a good question to ask yourself when needing discernment would be: What does the voice of logic and reason say that this situation requires? 

Critical Thinking 

In order to gain the insight and wisdom we need it is important to perform due diligence with the matter at hand. Educating yourself, gathering and analyzing facts and relevant information, evaluating evidence, asking questions, open-minded inquiry, skepticism, and weighing the pros and cons of various alternatives are all part of critical thinking. A useful question to ask yourself: Have I rigorously investigated and examined all the relevant matters that relate to my situation? 

Knowledgeable Input

A person doesn't want to run their life by committee, but seeking knowledgeable input and wise counsel from the right people is another practical way of acquiring greater insight. There's only so much knowledge, understanding, and experience you can have as one person. Seeking the input, feedback, knowledge and experience of others is almost always useful. No human being fallible but as the axiom goes, "there is safety in the multitude of wise counselors." The question to ask yourself here is: What two or three key people can I ask for their knowledge, input, and insight? 

Purposeful Introspection 

Self-knowledge is a critical component for attaining the direction and guidance we need. Introspection is the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. Some useful introspective questions when needing direction are: What truly matters most to me? What is my greatest desire? What am I afraid of? What outcome do I ultimately want? An instructive question related to purposeful introspection would be: Have I asked myself the penetrating questions about the matter at hand?

Path of Virtue 

A tried-and-true avenue for arriving at the insight, direction, discernment, guidance and wisdom we need is the practice of virtue. Choosing a course of action based upon virtues such as truthfulness, courage, justice, compassion, honor, generosity, and integrity are likely to be meaningful, rewarding, and fruitful. Conversely, choosing to act in greed, malice, hostility, hatred, deceit, ill-will or cowardice will likely not produce a constructive result. A question to ask yourself would be: What virtue would make the biggest difference in this area in which I need direction and discernment? 

Consciously directing your own life requires personal work and effort. Don't think of the insight or guidance you need as something that is downloaded from above, but a skill you cultivate with practice. There is no magic wand for the answers that we seek, but we have many tools at our disposal to guide us forward. 

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©  2009 Jim Palmer Author. All Rights Reserved
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 Advice and information are provided on this site as-is and may not suit your specific circumstances. We are not liable for any potential damages that may be incurred from this information. Always consult a licensed professional for psychiatric or medical conditions.

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