Learning from hardship can help us to grow. Our tough experiences in life make us stronger and wiser. However, in reality, it’s not just about surviving hard times, but, our wisdom comes from how we deal with difficulties and what we actively learn from those experiences.
Wisdom is a process which emerges in a specific context within a specific period of time through the interaction between an individual and a real-life situation that he or she faces. The process has cognitive integration, embodying action, and positive effects for oneself and others. Although wisdom may take a different form in different contexts, the real-life process we call wisdom begins when a person cognitively integrates elements that are ordinarily considered separate or incompatible to form a benevolent idea or a vision.
The process continues when the person takes actions to embody his or her integrated idea or vision, and is completed when the embodying actions generate positive effects for the acting person and for others. In fact, we derive wisdom from how we relate to life events and how much we question our beliefs and our values for growth. Importantly, though, the type and quality of the social contact that we experience during difficult times also play a critical role in determining whether we stagnate or become wiser.
Wisdom develops from extraordinary judgment or unusual effort; it seldom arises from merely following existing rules and norms. A person may need to integrate different perspectives and divergent or even conflicting ideas to solve problems, transcend suffering, resolve conflicts, heal wounds, and bring peace. Even though the actual content to be integrated will differ in different circumstances, wisdom is characterized by a benevolent idea that comes from integrating different, even opposing, ideas.
As we may observe in real life, wisdom also involves deeds that embody the integrated idea or vision. Thus, actions taken to embody the integrated idea in real-life situations is an essential part of wisdom. Being wise and having wisdom reflects forms of behavior that are admired, condoned, and encouraged.
However, wisdom is not merely a result of inquiring and reflecting on the relationship between self and society, but it is also the embodiment of action taken to transform self and society towards a better whole. The other essential feature of wisdom is its positive influences. An individual’s embodiment of the integrated idea should generate a positive influence for the self by, for example, resolving real-life problems, gaining emotional or psychological rewards from accomplishing a self-defined life mission, living a better life, or earning the respect and admiration of others.
Everybody who strives to live a meaningful and satisfying life can display wisdom if he or she integrates separate or incompatible ideas cognitively, embodies the integrated idea through actions, and generates positive effects for the self and others. The truth is that significant life learning fosters wisdom. Wisdom fosters significant life learning. Significant life learning is part of wisdom. Wisdom is part of significant life learning.