Elon Musk once asked himself the following question: “What are some of the problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?”
And his answer was, “I think the biggest terrestrial problem we’ve got is sustainable energy… and then, the other one being the extension of life beyond Earth to make life multi-planetary.” With that in mind, he built SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City.
Well, his answer is amazing and his capacity to make things happen enormous. Of that there is no doubt. However, I believe that there is a deeper problem facing humanity.
You see, just like a gun can kill or protect, the problem is that regardless of the technologies we develop, if our people lack wisdom – especially our leaders – they can always be used for the wrong purposes.
So, in my view, we need to become a tribe of wise people. We need to tackle our pride and our education system, etc. We must take on the root of all problems: IGNORANCE. Not knowing how our minds work and lacking self-observation skills and knowledge make us admire the wrong people — people who end up running our companies and countries. In the current state of affairs, with the lust for power and lack of self-knowledge demonstrated by our leaders, no technological developments will help.
However, if we start admiring the right things, the situation will slowly change. We, as citizens of the world, need to become wiser.
Now, I am far from being as intelligent as Elon Musk. And what I’m talking about isn’t about me or him anyway. I believe that there is a problem that we must tackle, and I am looking for people who can help with this message, this vision.
I can’t change the world alone; let’s do this together. My book and this blog are just the first steps, and I am looking for people who can help me spread the message to more people, faster. Let’s make aspiring to be wise a new normal and take it mainstream
I must say that I am proud of my book, which I believe it is my greatest contribution (so far) to this cause. With all honesty, though, I am well aware that only a tiny portion of society will read it — the book requires a lot of effort, intelligence and self-reflection from the reader to be able to fully apply it in their lives. That’s not enough. To become ‘the tribe of the wise,’ we need more and we need it faster. Together, we can create something (a movement? A course? A game? A movie? Anything — whatever works) that can help us create the pride that we need to start the change.
If you think this is a challenging goal, think about Elon Musk’s quote below.
“You need things like that [being a multi-planetary species] to be glad to wake up in the morning. Life can’t be just about solving problems. There have to be things that are exciting and inspiring that make you glad to be alive.” — Elon Musk
I wonder what the world would be like if we had a few Elon Musk’s tackling the problem of the world’s pride, and its education system? I think we’d probably get to Mars faster!
Call to actions:
If you are excited or inspired by my goal:
Spread the word:
Do you like the idea, but don’t have the time to help? That’s fine! If you simply share these articles with your family and friends and encourage them to read (this second step is important), you will be helping a lot. After all, whether or not this idea spreads will depend on you, the reader. There is only so much I can do.
Subscribe because I have a plan!
I will almost never email you. But wait? Why should you subscribe? Hear me out. I have a plan. I am not a ‘social media guy,’ but I’ve been reading about how to spread a message. Here is the plan: Once I gather enough subscribers, I can publish the Chasing Greatness I – The Return of the forgotten Virtue article on medium.com – a great content platform for articles with millions of readers – and encourage wannabewise subscribers to like the post. So what? I’ve heard that if we get a few hundred likes within a day, the article might start trending and then medium.com will push it out to their readers. It is all about being noticed by the platform’s content recommendation. If we do it right, the article (and the idea) will be read by thousands of people in a few days. How does that sound? Please subscribe and stay in stand-by. I am not sure when I will contact you. Hopefully very soon. It depends more on you than me now. Spread the word.
Come join the movement and help change the world for the better! We need to become “the tribe of the wise”. Help us spread the message. Please subscribe and stay in stand-by.
Some of you won’t like this article, but I can’t please everyone and remain authentic
Sidney Mazzi – 5 min read
Professionals of the mind (psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists) have made great discoveries, and their findings explain a lot about our minds. However, I believe that they failed miserably as an inspiring brand. What do I mean? Well, they fail to interest the average ‘Joe.’ In fact, many of our great leaders don’t read books by professionals of the mind because they don’t recognise the value of their findings. I mean, they know of one or two books, but they hardly apply them to their daily lives.
Think about it.
How much do everyday people really know about psychology? Then, consider all the advances of the past decades, how much our lives have changed — all the new technologies (the internet, electric cars, artificial intelligence, cell phones and the advances in medicine, etc.) that now permeate our everyday lives, even when we don’t notice them.
Now, think about human psychology. How much of what mankind has discovered do you apply to your daily life? Do you really think that there is nothing useful? Nothing that you could take advantage of? Is it just a bunch of emotional intelligence BS designed for weak people? Really?!
Because I believe that most people are oblivious to the workings of the human mind (even though there have been thousands of books written on the subject), I wrote The Art of Hunting Humans, a radical explanation of the human mind. I have never sought exposure. However, never the less, I exposed myself in my book, as well as my series of articles, because the world has gone crazy, and I decided to do my part and change things.
But why did I write an inspiring article like Chasing Greatness I, and also a guide to hunting humans?
First of all, my book is not a real guide. It is just a fun way to explain the mind, like it was written by an alien observing us. But if you want a list of reasons for my controversial book’s title and approach, I will give you five.
I didn’t want this article to be too long. So, if you want, you can read the reasons in more detail click here.
Not enough reasons for you? How about one more?
Bonus – Reason 6:
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Well, if you believe that the world is getting wiser, then maybe I am wrong. I don’t think so, though. Hence, I thought we should try a different and unconventional approach to talk about wisdom and self-knowledge.
Only time will tell if I am right or wrong. At least I am trying my best.
A guide to hunting humans is too much for you?
No problem at all!
So, you want to learn about the human mind, but you don’t like my approach?
ALL GOOD! You can always go for the works of famous psychoanalysts such as Freud or Lacan, or you can try all the textbooks about cognitive behavioural psychology and neuroscience. There are lots of them out there! They are not fun to read, but if you read lots of them and put all the information together, they will be, indeed, useful. Tip: Don’t stick to one field of science: psychology, psychoanalysis and neuroscience are all important.
No, I am not going to try to convince you to read my book at all. But I would suggest that you start with history, politics, marketing or even philosophy. I believe you can learn a lot about the human mind without having to read boring technical books. Watch a few YouTube summaries about psychology and neuroscience, for example.
Did you say history, politics and marketing?
Yep, history of humanity, countries, the old empires, how life was in the dark ages, etc. Read about different cultures, beliefs, religions, rituals. Go deep to understand how society started, or how different societies are and were organised. For example, you can really learn how the east and west think in profoundly different ways. It is very interesting and will give you a good general perspective. For history, you can start withSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It is maybe the best book ever written.
You can even find some interesting documentaries on YouTube… there are great ones about life during the middle ages.
Or read about politics. A book that teaches the basics about power and politics – including how politicians trick you – is The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli. No, it is not just for evil people. It has different uses. For example, Good people can use it to understand how those who lead us think and act. You will be able to start spotting their tricks and gain a good understand regarding how power works. After all, whether you like it or not, the history of humans is the history of the struggle for power.
Or go for marketing techniques. They are very interesting! Here you can read almost any book on the subject – yep, techniques to make people buy stuff. Even a simple book like Ca$hvertising will teach you a lot about how marketers trick you. And, obviously, if you are intelligent enough, you can use it as a source of knowledge (not just to make people buy stuff). You can learn, for example, how marketers play with your insecurities and desires.
If you want to start with philosophy, I would encourage you to start with books about Stoicism. They are very interesting, too. But if you like a mix of fiction and learning, then you can start with Sophie’s World, a 1991 novel by Jostein Gaarder. In this book you will get a nicer perspective on life, learn about philosophy and regain the ability of wonder like when you were a kid. By the way, this is the first real book I intend to read to my son when he is 12-14 years old. It is amazing!
You can learn a lot about humans from these books — much more about the human mind than from a self-help book that spends hundreds pages teaching you that you should have the right mindset in life (which basically means that you should learn from your mistakes and failures, so you can improve and grow. If that’s news to you. Go for it. Enjoy!).
Chasing Greatness IV (cont.) – Reasons – Extended
Sidney Mazzi – 4 min read
1. For me, the books out there are terrible.
First of all, maybe it is just me, but anything that mentions emotional intelligence puts me off. The term is so overused that it has kind of lost its meaning. So, when I hear it, I immediately lose interest. I immediately think, “Oh God, here we go again… another politically correct and boring talk with nothing inside.” On top of that, lots of people who talk about emotional intelligence are NOT emotionally intelligent at all. So…
With this disclaimer done, let’s go for the specifics:
The problem is that most books about psychology are either extremely boring, too damn technical, or in the best cases, just a bunch of curiosities that you will forget right after reading them.
i. Self-help books that claim to explain the mind are almost always USELESS. I’ve read lots of them, and almost all were a waste of time. Even the most popular ones use hundreds of pages for a simple, obvious lesson. Often they comprise 300 pages that repeat the same thing over and over… anyway.
ii. On the other side of the spectrum, more often than not, psychology books overcomplicate stuff and use extremely technical language. It’s like the authors just want to appear smart, rather than help others.
iii. How about books on neuroscience? Some are interesting, but they are very limited. They show curiosities about your brain, but they’re hardly life changing. Their piece of the puzzle is too limited.
For me, apart from one or two examples, you can get 95% of the information contained in any self-help book by watching the 15-min summary on YouTube. So, why bother reading the book?
I wanted a book that would provide all the basic information in one place. A book that could serve as a guide and that I could turn to from time to time. Because many curiosities about the mind you kind of know, but it is only when you put them all together that things make sense. For that reason, I designed a book that should be read at least twice because it is packaged with information.
2. Distance! I didn’t want my book to be compared to all those others I’ve mentioned.
Because, in my opinion, these books are so terrible or limited, I don’t want to see mine on a shelf with them. I wanted an approach to psychology that would be highly original — a work that defied easy categorization (is it fiction? Satire? Self-help? A book about psychology? All of the above?), even at the potential detriment to marketability.
Sadly, I believe that the broader use of psychology is done by marketers. They are the ones who really know how to trick your mind into buying something. Meanwhile, psychologists reach a tiny percentage of the population (via treatment or their interest in the field of study). Just a fraction of the population. It’s disaster.
Don’t get me wrong. Psychologists do a great job treating the people they help, but overall, as a science, the findings in psychology don’t reach the vast majority of the population.
A fresh approach was required. So, I packaged The Art of Hunting Humans in a radically different way. While writing this book, my goal was to appeal to a new market: people generally disinterested in books related to psychology. Sceptical people like me (or like I was just a few years ago).
3. Lack of an outsider’s perspective.
As I explained in the Diamond of Wisdom article, people struggle to observe themselves from the sceptical perspective of an outsider.
My book was designed to allow you to distance yourself from a problem so that you can understand its magnitude and the challenges ahead.
4. Catchy title! Yes! controversy can be good! Let’s shake things up!
I am almost always in a good mood, and I often make jokes about myself. Among my friends, I am very funny, sarcastic, ironical — stuff like that. So, I like a catchy title, satire, weird metaphors. That’s just me. Also, my book needed to be controversial, so people would talk about it. It is not easy to get people’s attention these days.
Also, it needed to be fun:
I use satire and weird metaphors to explain lots of things in life (a ship, a prisoner, dungeons…). So, why not pretend to write a guide for hunting humans? For me, it sounded like an interesting approach.
5. Give me the bloody truth! Designed to challenge, rather than comfort.
Maybe it is just me, but I am always more interested in constructive criticism than praise. I have lots of motivation and self-confidence inside me, and I don’t really need anyone to lift me up. So, I wanted something less inspiring and motivational and more focused on exploring the problems we all face. I want the truth. Yes! Point out the finger! It’s fine! That’s how we solve problems and build urgency for change.
Here’s a sentence from The Art of Hunting Humans: My book is “An investigative tool for those brave enough to face their inner darkness.”
That is my style, but I am well aware that not everybody likes it…. sad it may be, but the quote below is true for most people, so I know that my book won’t be read by many:
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism” — Norman Vincent Peale.
If that quote is true for you, don’t even start reading my book. However, I can also say don’t give up just yet. Later in this article I will recommend a few other books for you to read.
My journey has been more difficult than it should have been, so this article focuses on helping you avoid my mistakes. After all, I am far from a super-wise person, but I’ve been on this journey for more than a decade, so I have one or two tips to share.
You see, the first five to seven years into my journey weren’t that good.What can I say? I didn’t even know where to start, what to read, how difficult it would be, where to focus, etc.
Anyway, I made lots of mistakes that I could have avoided.
So, unfortunately, this article will not be as inspirational as the first. Instead, it is more about setting expectations and planning (which can be seen as less glamorous, but is super necessary).
It’s a complex journey, so you need 4 things:
An outsider’s perspective
The right dream
Number 1: Knowledge
This is tricky, and it focusses on all of the other following qualities. Here you will learn how humans behave and understand different cultures, etc. But the key is to understand the human mind, which is the main thing I intend to help you with.
Even if you have a PhD in engineering, if you haven’t studied topics such as psychology or the history of a certain country, you are pretty much starting from zero.
I often call it being ‘well-trained’ vs being ‘well-educated.’ Very different things. You see, there is a HUGE difference between being
a well-trained person (like a doctor, an engineer or an investor) who has trained to perform certain tasks.
a well-educated person (which is closer to being a wise person) who knows about psychology, history, philosophy and the economy, etc. A well-educated person is a complete citizen who understands the world.
Using this definition, most people you know are likely to be well-trained, not well-educated.
Anyway, quality number 1 takes lots of explaining. Let’s look at the others:
Number 2: An Outsider’s Perspective
This will help you with Knowledge. I mentioned it briefly in my previous article, but it is worth exploring more:
The human mind is one of the most complex puzzles to solve and, in my view, if you don’t get extra help from an outsider’s perspective, the chances of fully understanding the size of the problem you are about to deal with are low. You’ve been a human for so long that it is almost impossible to detach yourself from a human perspective, and this will hinder your development.
It might sound crazy, but you will soon understand the importance of extreme self-distancing when it comes to self-reflection.
A couple of examples:
(1) Imagine a person who has never left his country. He would find it nearly impossible to question his culture, rituals (weddings, funerals, human greetings, etc.), expected social behaviours, social structures and religious beliefs.
For this person, given that he has known no other life, everything seems natural and as it should be. How could he possibly feel otherwise? Meanwhile, a foreigner would have a very different point of view and be able to evaluate these things from an outsider’s perspective.
(2) Here’s another way of putting it: A lion, doesn’t understand or question its instincts; it just follows them naturally. A scientist, however, is able to observe the lion from an outsider’s point of view, knowing the animal’s behaviours.
So, humans can only question their instincts, beliefs, emotions and assumptions if they study themselves from the sceptical perspective of an outsider, like a creature from another planet.
To better understand the world and make better decisions, the importance of perspective is crucial. Even if you are highly capable of understanding others from their points of view, you will need to take things to a whole new level to truly understand the human mind.
So, the second bullet point is the ability to observe yourself and the world from the pragmatic and sceptical point of view of a third person — to have a completely different perspective on life, ideally like that of a non-human entity.
Number 3: The Right Goal
The right goal is important because, for example, if someone does not intend to be an ethical investor, well, he can have all the knowledge and the time to prepare, but without the right goal, we know the outcome will not be good. Do you see? It starts with the person’s intentions. So, in this case, in my view, the investor would have the wrong goal from the beginning.
Are you going to learn to improve yourself or to work against other people — to manipulate them? It is all about having the right goal.
Given that you are reading my Chasing Greatness series of articles, you probably already have the right goal of trying to be wise. So, I don’t think we need to spend any more time here.
Number 4: Time to practice
You can’t rush things too much (like I did). Just like it takes time to build your muscles at the gym, it will take time to understand the human mind. And understanding is just the beginning. Being able to apply it when you are nervous or under pressure is another. After all, you will unlikely have the luxury of applying your knowledge of the human mind while meditating on top of a mountain. Wouldn’t that be nice? In reality, you will be working, taking care of your family, etc. Daily worries and pressures won’t suddenly stop for you to pursue your journey.
We are going to fix the aeroplane while it is flying.
So, the first important thing you need to learn for number 4 is that this famous quote is NOT true for you:
“Absence of occupation is not rest; a mind quite vacant is a mind distressed” — William Cowper.
In Brazil, where I come from, this quote is often said as “The empty mind is the devil’s workshop” (I am not sure if it is as popular in English).
Anyway, what matters for you is that the idea that you must be busy all the time is completely wrong. You will need lots of time dedicated to introspection and self-reflection. No matter how busy you are. It is about priorities. You must find time during your daily/weekly routines to have an idle mind in order to pay attention to your emotions, to look inwards, to reflect on your actions and so on. It won’t be easy; after all, we live in a world where people can’t sit down on the toilet for a few minutes without their phones. So, taking time to “do nothing” and observe yourself might even spark anxiety attacks.
Yes, it is true that at the beginning, looking inwards can be quite unsettling — even disturbing — but doing so will pay off, and it’s the only way anyway. Looking inwards is far better than never listening to your inner longings.
So, slowly you will realise that the following quote is more accurate:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” — Blaise Pascal.
The journey will take a long time. You must embrace a no-shortcut mentality. As times passes by and you get better, you will learn to enjoy exploring your mind and challenging your assumptions and become increasingly proud of your decision to strive to be wise. But just like the first days at the gym will make your muscles ache, looking inwards will be a strain if you’ve never done it before.
Enjoy your journey…
So, those are the only four things to keep in mind, and the diamond diagram above summarises them. No, this is not rocket science, but they are, indeed, useful.
The good news is that numbers 3 and 4 only depend on you. And there is a pretty good chance that you have number 3 (The Right Dream) sorted, which is the most important step anyway.
The bad news is that you can’t stop practicing. You see, if you stop going to the gym, we all know that your hard-earned muscles will shrink. Well, the same principle applies to your ability to work with your mind and become wise if you stop putting in the work. Yes, as far as I am aware, the road to wisdom is a never-ending journey. But at least it’s fun.
Lastly, don’t forget that becoming wise is like turning your inner self into a beautiful diamond — a precious stone that isn’t formed overnight, no matter how much pressure you apply.
Before you leave…
For the next articles, I will use excerpts from my book. I am well aware that, with a confronting title (like my book’s), they will not be for everyone. So, you might want to sign off here.
My message is that the world needs more people to learn about how the human mind works. If I am able to convince you, I have succeeded. The need for wise people in the world is immense. My dream is that one day, a key element of the world’s Ideal Self will be wisdom. This, of course, won’t happen just by everybody reading my book. Read whatever you want, as long as it’s valuable.
In case you’ve chosen not to read my following articles (check out my book recommendations), I wish you the best with all my heart. Take one diamond, and good luck in your journey The world needs you to be wise. Your family needs you to be wise. You need you to be wise.
Finally, during your journey, when real life hit you in the face, and you’re feeling under pressure, remember that pressure and time makes diamonds.
A dream or a manifesto. I am not sure. You tell me.
Sidney Mazzi – 13 min read
More than 10 years ago, I uncovered a secret — an idea — that led me on the most amazing journey. A journey that profoundly changed my view of the world. It even altered the way that I see the problems we all face. The secret turns out to be a simple idea. Maybe it is the world’s simplest idea. Yet, it is so powerful that it has the potential to solve most of the problems of the world. It tackles the root of almost all problems. Including yours. For now, let’s call it, the ‘Forgotten Virtue.’
What is intriguing to me, is that the Forgotten Virtue was not always … well, a forgotten. Our ancestors thousands of years ago knew of it. Yes, for centuries, civilizations used this simple idea to guide their lives. But, somewhere on the way to this present moment, it was lost. All I did was bring it back to my reality. And I hope that, by the end of this article, you decide to bring it back to yours, too.
What are our most common dreams?
I want to be rich, beautiful, popular, famous … as kids we often said we wanted to be a soccer player or basketball player. Later, we wanted to become a tech entrepreneur, doctor or an accountant (hey, what’s wrong with accountants….? Kidding).
But dreams are more than that. At the same time, we can desire to become a wife or a husband, to have kids and become a mum or a dad, etc. Dreams can even be specific. For example, I want to be a cool dad. Not just any dad. A cool one. This is important to me.
So, there are several layers and dimensions to our dreams, right? At work, at home, how we want to be recognized among friends, and so on.
Now, imagine you filled all those dreams into one person. Like a super version of you.
There will be a few conflicts among your dreams, but you get the picture.
This super version of you we will call your ‘Ideal Self.’ A super self. It is the sum of all your DREAMS. Cool, aye?
This, my friends, is the beacon that guides your life. If you were a captain of a ship, it would be the paradise island you’d be chasing, okay? I often call it my ‘Personal Holy Grail.’
As you’d expect, you will admire people who look like your Ideal Self. Something in them has the characteristics of what you aspire to be.
If you wish or want to be a great entrepreneur, you may look at Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos as guides or role models.
Not surprisingly, everyone’s Holy Grails are different. That’s why you might really care about being beautiful while your partner doesn’t even look in the mirror. People are different, and they admire different things.
We all chase different Personal Holy Grails, and that’s fine.
I have a word for all of this.
What we admire, what we are proud of, can be summarised as our ‘Vanity.’
We love to be recognized by the characteristics that we admire or wish we had.
Here is the KEY:
When it comes to vanity, admiration, pride… all that stuff, most of us lack something essential. Something that has the potential to change our whole perspective of life.
So, what do we lack?
Wisdom. But, more specifically, the pride of trying to being wise.
Now, you might say, “Oh God, here it comes…”
Hold on just a few more minutes. You will see.
For centuries, civilizations have passed down their ideas of wisdom. All over the world, they told stories of a moral and virtuous life. Wise people were praised and admired. But nowadays, you hardly see people talking about such things.
Let’s go back to basics: What is wisdom?
It is not intelligence. And, no, you don’t have to have white hair to possess it — although decades of experience often helps.
Also, being wise is not analogous to being an intellectual. And no, you don’t become wise by simply reading lots of books. It takes much more than that.
WISDOM. It is a simple word that summaries many things.
The simplest definition some people use is “to know a lot.” But that doesn’t help us much, does it? It seems too broad to me.
The dictionary defines being wise as something like “having or showing experience, knowledge and good judgement.” Not particularly helpful either.
But, I promised that I would give you an answer, and so I will also show you here, in my view, the characteristics of a wise person:
Let’s take two-three minutes to analyse wisdom in more detail because wise people really are extraordinary human beings. To start off, what I say will be a bit generic, but hold on just for a few seconds and things will start to become clearer.
1.Understand humans and their complex minds
Wise people know that there are irrational forces hidden inside each human being. They know that most of our problems come from our insecurities. They can see the real person behind his or her mask. They know what drives human behaviour. They can understand the reasons why each person does what they do. In short, wise people understand the human mind and, as a result, they understand humans. And this is a powerful skill that everyone should master.
Let’s dig deeper.
2.The need for introspection & to escape from the past
Wise people are well aware that people have different backgrounds, skills and dreams. So, they focus on his or her journey — one that inevitably started with a dream of being wise that lead to a commitment to introspection and self-development.
Hence, wise people focus on exploring their own minds. By exploring their thoughts and emotions, they escape haunting memories and are free to chase the future. They are free to become who they really are.
3.Less comparison and need for social approval
As a result, wise people have great self-esteem, and they almost never compare themselves with others. They can be authentic human beings that have very little need for social approval or validation.
4.Self-awareness and humility
Although they know a lot, wise people are aware of their limitations. They are well aware that the world is complex and no matter how much they know, there will always be more to learn. This self-awareness allows them to keep a humble attitude and also avoid certain mistakes caused by overconfidence.
This ability allows wise people to not be impulsive. They pay attention to and question their feelings as if monitoring a control panel, and they react in a manner that they believe appropriate. This ability gives them great control over their bodies and minds. As a consequence, wise people are masters of their emotions.
5.Permanently curious beings & an outsider’s perspective
Wise people are curious about western and eastern cultures, philosophies and ideologies, as well as their pasts. As their curiosity translates into knowledge, wise people become able to see the world from different perspectives.
Every wise person can see any problem from (1) his or hers point of view, (2) yours and even from a (3) a third party’s perspective — like a sceptical alien observing we humans from another planet.
As a result, wise people can view their lives from an outsider’s perspective, just like citizens from one country have no problem challenging foreign rituals, cultures and behaviours. So, wise people can question aspects of their own lives because they are able to observe themselves from the outside.
6.The meaning of suffering & struggles in life
Wise people understand that life without struggle is an illusion. They know that it wouldn’t even be desirable to have a life without struggle. Because struggle, failure and suffering move us forward and can present opportunities to learn and improve ourselves. You have to struggle. Can you see how wise people change the meaning of struggle and suffering? Instead of avoiding struggle, they embrace it as part of their lives (that doesn’t mean they chase it either). And by doing this, paradoxically, wise people suffer less.
7.Mortality — a guide for better decision making
Regular people distance themselves from the fact that they are animals, creatures that eventually perish. Wise people, on the other hand, use their mortality to their advantage. Doing so provides them with a realistic perspective on life. Wise people plan for the long-term while knowing that no human’s lifespan is certain.
8.Compassion and empathy
A consequence of all this knowledge is that wise people better relate to others — with less judgement and more compassion and understanding.
“A smart person wins all the battles in which a wise one does not enter” — Chinese wisdom.
Wise people are likely to be able to handle high amounts of pressure while remaining calm. They are also extremely patient. Do you get the picture? And, I bet that it sounds good, but at the same time a bit too alien, right? Let me give you a few quick examples because now you might be picturing a wise person as an old fellow on top of a mountain meditating all day, and that’s not what I mean.
So, let’s move to a more practical example because these people really do have super powers.
Wise people are super heroes. They:
· change their opinion if presented with a better argument
· can give advice and not get angry if the other person chooses not to follow it
· can discuss politics without getting angry, listen to opposing ideas, reflect and sometimes even change their minds — incredible!
In fact, wise people are such extraordinary beings that sometimes they even seem to be able to predict the future. For example:
· In a bar, we praise the person who fought and defended his family. Which is good. But we are oblivious to the wise person who noticed something wrong and left the bar before the trouble started. Got it?
By understanding people and having lots of life experience, a wise person can see problems before they occur — a few minutes or even months or years before, like in the next example:
· Wise people can avoid working for a company because, before a problem arises, they can see that the boss is too greedy and insecure (a deadly combination), and at the first sign of a problem, he or she will most probably throw them under the bus.
Observing from outside, we might simply think wise people are lucky when, in fact, they are much more than that.
Wise people are like super heroes, no?
Now, think about it.
When was the last time you admired someone, not because they are rich, famous, popular or intelligent, but because they are wise? And, let’s not confuse wisdom with intelligence. These two qualities are not the same thing.
Or whom do you admire that fits the criteria above, or appears to be trying to fit, and is always improving and moving in the right direction?
Note that I am NOT saying that you should only admire perfect people.
You can admire a workaholic entrepreneur with a terrible personal life, but a successful business. It would be good to know WHAT to admire and what not, but that’s up to you.
I am talking about adding another layer to your analysis when deciding whom to admire. It is an extra step. Or at least know one wise person to help balance your life.
You’re just one decision away.
So, am I saying that you will become wise if you adopt my idea?
NO, not at all, and I am NOT saying that I AM MR. WISE PERSON, either.
I am talking about making a DECISION. About deciding to admire something. To start paying more attention.
The problem is that most people don’t choose WISDOM as something to admire — either because they forgot what it means or because it seems unachievable.
But you don’t have to ACHIEVE wisdom. You just need to chase it.
Think of a young boy who admires Michael Jordan and dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. He will watch Michael Jordan’s games and play basketball himself. The reality is that — even though he lives and breathes the game — the young boy may not become a professional player, or even become an outstanding player. But, regardless, he will be a better player than if he had never worked on his basketball skills. That’s what matters.
Think about wisdom.
I am suggesting that it’s good for you to wish you were, aspire to become …. That’s what I am talking about.
Just add your dream to your vanity, to realise your Personal Holy Grail.
You have your dreams. Keep them. It is very difficult to change your dreams, and you won’t do it overnight. But add wisdom to your dream, like “I want to be a WISE, cool dad that is a great professional.” Got it? Just one extra word. One small change.
Adding wisdom to your dreams will change your perspective, your priorities, your decisions, your way of thinking. Make wisdom your passion. It will pay off. Regardless of whether you reach your goal or not, you will live a better life.
For example, if you decide that among the stuff you want to be, one of those is to be a wise person. You will probably start asking questions, like “What would a wise person do in this or that situation?” You won’t necessarily know the answer at the beginning, but that’s how it starts.
Then you start rethinking whom you admire….
You will start noticing, and admiring, people who live good lives with no need to brag and people who are always calm, even in the most difficult situations. These people have no need for swagger….
There must be at least one near you. They won’t show off — he or she wouldn’t be the wise person I am talking about if they did.
Then, you remember that a wise person knows a lot about different cultures, different perspectives… and you will become curious and want to learn more about the cultures of different countries, how people thought in the past (so you will try to learn a bit of history).
Suddenly, your culture or your beliefs are not “the best” anymore, and you will start having a broader view of the world. A more complex view.
You will also remember that I said a wise person understands the human mind. And so you will start wanting to learn more about that too…
And so on…
Naturally, your quest for knowledge, your true curiosity, will explode. You will start looking for experiences that matter, which will add value to your pursuit. You will unleash a new version of you.
As your mind expands, you will be fascinated by how less vulnerable a wise person is to social pressure. How unbreakable they are. And, you naturally will become more authentic.
Sounds good, no?
Now, if you are better motivated by fear:
The bad news is that every day you are getting older. And, advancing years don’t automatically make you become wise. You must try hard and spend decades improving to achieve wisdom. And being old and not wise will not bring you much joy nor pride.
And, in case you are planning to postpone the start of this journey, here is a quote for you:
“A year from now you will wish you had started today” — Karen Lamb.
You might be thinking “Okay. Maybe I should try that. Give it a go. But how can this change the world?”
First of all, striving towards wisdom is good for you, regardless of whether you change the world or not, right?
But, let me now answer your question:
Slowly, people — not everybody, just a few — will start noticing that you are different. Not because you are showing off, either. Rather, they will begin admiring your serenity, and all the abilities of a wise person….
Naturally, you will also become a good role model. An enviable alternative to what people have around them. A person to admire.
And here I am not talking about social recognition as a benefit for you. I am talking about you being a benefit to the world. I am answering your question.
When people ask what’s your secret, you say, “I just ‘want to be wise, that’s all.”
Then, as time goes by, as you show the benefits of wisdom to those around you, people will start aspiring to be wise also. Slowly, this Ideal Self will start to materialise in your community, culture, country, and so on and so forth.
And if we strive for wisdom consistently and for long enough, we can change the world’s Ideal Self. We can add this Forgotten Virtue. Almost everyone in the world wants to be rich and famous. Wouldn’t it be amazing if people also aspired to be WISE? It would be quite something to see the return of the Forgotten Virtue.
I guarantee that any world that has wisdom as part of its Holy Grail will thrive. It will be better off.
Now, this will sound old fashioned, but yes, I have a dream. Imagine a world where the desire to be wise becomes a trend. A world where people help each other without taking selfies while doing so. Imagine a world where people agree and disagree and continue to be friends. Where people are curious about the past and discuss the future. A world where voters demand wise politicians. Where people talk about real problems and discuss solutions for poverty, poor education, pollution… where people that show off their money are not admired. Where the desire to be famous is something to be pitied, not admired. And finally, I want people to rediscover the ability to reflect and wonder.
Maybe one day, instead of hollow selfies, we will even have #wannabewise as one of the top trends on social media with people sharing articles and interesting videos to help educate each other.
The pursuit of wisdom is a slow process. But it’s the only way. If you force things, you won’t be genuine. And if the citizens of our world don’t truly want wisdom, you will not make it happen. We need to convince them. One by one.
“Patience and time do more than force and rage” — Jean de La Fontaine.
You might think that I am just a dreamer. I describe myself as a ‘sceptical one’ because my dreams are real and anyone who aspires to be wise will benefit, even if they die trying. This is because the journey is good for anyone who decides to adopt the dream of being a wise person, as I did.
I will get there one day. I hope you will be on my side.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” — African proverb.
Do you like the idea, but don’t have the time to help? That’s fine! If you simply share this article with your family and friends and encourage them to read (this second step is important), you will be helping a lot. After all, whether or not this idea spreads will depend on you, the reader. There is only so much I can do.