If you’ve had these 7 experiences in life, you’re a lot wiser than you realize

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

It may sound a little cliche by now, like something your grandmother would periodically blurt out when you were seven–but I can say with relative certainty that there’s a great deal of truth to the latter adage. 

If you’ve experienced certain things in your life, both good and bad, then you’ve invariably become a little wiser, even though you may not always realize it. 

In this article, I’ll take you through a list of seven things in life that if you’ve experienced, you’ve become wiser. 

It’s time you start giving yourself a bit more credit. 

Let’s dive in! 

1) You’ve overcome failure 

I know people who are so fearful of failure that they’ll refuse to try, avoiding risks at all costs. 

But from my experience, there’s no better teacher in life than failure. 

With it comes adaptability, resilience, and increased perseverance. 

When I opened my first business in 2014, things initially went incredibly well, almost to an unsettling degree. 

I had no experience, yet there I was flying high, feeling like I was on top of the world, but also feeling that things eventually would come crashing down. 

I knew my success was somehow too good to be true. 

Sure enough, a few years and several poor financial decisions later, my business fell. 

Fell hard. 

What followed was the most stressful period of my life. 

For years, I was dealing with subpoenas from unpaid suppliers, non-stop threats, and the ever-present rumination of losing everything. 

But looking back, as stressful and painful as that period in time for me was, funnily enough, I don’t regret a thing. 

The amount of self-reflection and lessons I learned set me up for the rest of my life. 

I’m stronger, I’m wiser, I’m better off.  

I have a deeper understanding of myself and the world, something that I wouldn’t have gained under more comfortable circumstances. 

2) You’ve traveled or lived in different cultures or countries 

There are few things more stimulating to me than traveling to a new place, meeting the locals, and seeing the differences in cultures, beliefs, ways of living, etc. 

The more you travel, the more your mind broadens. 

This is just one of the rules of the universe. 

When you travel, you’ll see how vastly different people and customs are from your own. 

This exposure naturally expands your perspective, enhances your empathy and tolerance for others, and cultivates an all-around more open-minded, wiser approach to life

So if you ever find the opportunity to go backpacking through Asia, or try the many regional cuisines in Mexico or China, or simply do a road trip to a neighboring state, I recommend you take it with conviction. 

With the right approach, travel can change you fundamentally. 

Take it from the late great journeyman (and one of my heroes) Anthony Bourdain: “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”

3) You’ve built and lost relationships

They say if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing. 

I find this sentiment to be at least somewhat true. 

If you’re still exclusively hanging out with the same people you did throughout high school, growth tends to have a cap. 

Besides, the process of both building meaningful relationships and experiencing the pain of losing someone you once valued can teach you priceless lessons about love, loss, empathy, and the importance of connection in life.

This can apply to both platonic and romantic relationships

A breakup will always be heart-wrenching, for instance, but the silver lining is you emerge a far wiser person than you were previously. 

4) You’ve faced a health crisis 

Once you’ve intimately come to terms with your mortality, you will change as a person. 

So if you’ve gone through a severe health crisis and survived, this entire process can be transformative, teaching you the power of resilience, taking care of your body and mind, and simply enjoying the present moment. 

People who have gone through major illnesses tend to have their priorities in order. 

They know that the mundane trivialities many of us are preoccupied with really don’t matter at the end of the day. 

They know how to live with purpose–and value life because they have a heightened awareness of the fragility of it all. 

5) You’ve learned to forgive 

Genuinely being able to forgive people who have wronged you is no walk in the park. 

It’s a process that takes humility, self-reflection, and empathy; qualities that elude many of us at times. 

Let’s face it: a lot of us can allow pettiness and pride to rule over us. 

So when you’re able to overcome this and embrace the process of forgiveness, whether it’s forgiving yourself or other people, this can lead to a deeper understanding of compassion, the complexity of human emotions, and the power of letting go. 

I know people who have held onto grudges for decades–and it’s like a dark cloud is constantly hovering over them. 

So once you break the cycle, let go, and choose to forgive, you almost always gain a tremendous amount of wisdom. 

6) You’ve achieved something you worked hard for 

There are few greater things in life than achieving something you put your heart and soul into. 

Whether it’s your own business, a six-pack of abs, or a house you just purchased (or built), with that feeling of accomplishment comes wisdom; the wisdom that nothing of genuine value in this world comes easy; the wisdom that hard work and persistence pay off. 

So if you’ve ever gone on the journey towards achieving a set goal, particularly one that requires significant effort, you’ve inevitably become wiser than you were before–with values like discipline and the joy of accomplishment firmly in tow. 

7) You’ve helped others through tough times 

Like many kids at that age, when I was in my teens, I was incredibly self-absorbed

I’d be so preoccupied with things like brand names, hair gel, Axe body spray, and my overall image. 

When my parents encouraged me to spend the summers volunteering to build houses for the less fortunate, my perspective and priorities changed drastically. 

Instead of my energy being focused inward, I began to realize that the world didn’t revolve around me; and that my helping others was a far more worthwhile pursuit than being caught up in adolescent superficialities. 

Looking back, I now know that supporting others, whether friends or strangers, during the more trying times of life offers valuable insights into the human condition, empathy, and the interconnectedness of all of us. 

Final words 

It’s simple: the more you venture out of your comfort zone, the wiser you become. 

So if you want to gain wisdom, then start taking risks, and start acting bolder than you would before. 

The prospect of failure shouldn’t deter you, it should motivate you. 

Because as we’ve established, failure is the ultimate teacher in this life. 

And if the above experiences already resonate with you, then you’re in a good place; far shrewder than you might realize. 

So keep at it, life is a journey, one with fresh lessons to discover at every corner. 

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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