Wisdom vs. Intelligence
Although people value intelligence—understanding, reasoning, the ability to learn—they also respect wisdom, or the knowledge and experience that we accumulate over a lifetime. Cognitive scientists call the former “fluid intelligence,” which does reduce somewhat during adulthood, and the latter “crystallized intelligence,” which generally improves with age.
In some ways, wisdom is like beauty: we value it, we desire it, we know it when we see it, but it is nearly impossible to pin down such an ethereal quality. But researchers have tried—and here’s what they’ve found.
The Definition of Wisdom
istock/Mercedes Rancaño Otero
In the late 1980s, the Berlin Wisdom Project at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development defined wisdom as having:
* Intellectual knowledge
* Factual knowledge
* Superior judgment
* Excellent problem-solving skills
* The ability to learn from experience
* Emotional resilience, or the ability to rebound from a setback
* Openness, or the maturity to be comfortable allowing the world to see you as you really are
* A deep understanding of human nature, including empathy for people who are different or from other cultures
Don’t have all these qualities? Almost everyone has the capacity to become wiser, especially if you strengthen these six habits that the wisest people all share in common. (Find out how wise you are already with these six questions.)