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  • Writer's pictureMona Cooley

What Is Wisdom?

“That knowledge is the accumulation of facts, insight is an understanding of what we might do with the facts, and wisdom is the judicious use of both.” This was described in the book, “Your Best Destiny” by Wintley Phipps with James Lund.

The chapter on wisdom in his book touched a nerve with me. When you are wondering what your destiny is, you search and search for the nugget that will enlighten you with insight. I remember vividly in my early 30’s being frustrated and wondering what my purpose was in life. Our 4 children were out the door figuring out what they wanted to do in life. Ted was going to his work every day and here I was lost in what I was going to do with my life. I woke up one morning ticked at myself for not knowing what I wanted to do! I said, “By the time I am 50, I will be doing something.” Well, our family was faced with our daughter being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Little did I know this would be the work I would be doing for the rest of my life; however, I see it now as a gift. I have read many, many times that our traumatic experiences are the gifts for us to do something with. I have to agree; it certainly has been a journey.

As stated in this book in a chapter on wisdom, “Knowledge is the vital first step toward acquiring wisdom.” How true. We had to learn about Bipolar Disorder, had to learn through trial and error what worked and didn’t work, learned through reading books, listening to those living with a mental health problem and persevering through the struggles not knowing if we were gaining ground. Experiencing all of the ups and downs, failures and successes, managing emotions, not managing emotions and trying to figure out what is working and not working was more prominent. Through all of this, you are gaining insight into what is working, some ‘ah ha’ moments happen and someone validates you that you are doing something right. As stated in the quote at the beginning – it is about understanding the facts. Facts are the key point here. When focusing on what the facts are, you can decide what can be done. This is putting the emotions aside for the moment as facts are needed to know what to do different or what to keep doing because it is working.

Here is an outline for you to consider to work through this process:

1. Take time without the emotions, write down the facts – doing a fun activity has everyone engaged versus isolating

2. Keep looking for the facts, keep writing until done – keep the emotions out for now.

3. Look at the facts – pick out what is being said and done that is creating better outcomes

4. What is left on your list – what is the reason these were not picked? These facts could be what is not working.

5. Consider building on what is working, how can you implement more of this such as listening more, talking less, or,

6. Consider letting go of what is not working such as reacting to what someone says versus exploring the reasons they said what they said, then,

7. Decide what you will do with the facts (either #5 and/or #6)

8. Get your ego out of the way and be honest about what you can change

9. As a family, sit down, decide what you all can work on and make an effort to change your part (eg. responding instead of reacting)

10. Believe your family has the capacity to install these new findings

Wisdom will be the gift you gain through your experiences. You will use this learning experience to help you with other situations that appear. GO FOR IT!!

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