Life isn’t always easy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a multi-millionaire or homeless, nobody is exempt from pain or struggle.
The good news is that with every difficult experience, you get a little wiser.
And the more you go through in life, the more equipped you are to cope and manage the things to come.
Like your immune system, you’re building up a tolerance for the good, bad, and ugly of life.
In this article, I’ll walk you through eight life lessons that people who are considered wise have learned.
Once you internalize this mindset, then you can start giving yourself more credit.
In fact, you may well be wiser than you realize.
Let’s get to it!
1) You’ve learned that change is a part of life
If there’s one thing that’s constant in this life, it’s the inevitability of change.
This is just how the universe works, the natural law is to move forward. Wise people have a firm grasp of this.
On the flip side, I know people who are incredibly closed off to the prospect of change (or anything new for that matter.)
My ex, for instance, refused to go and explore new countries, always preferring to visit places she’d already been.
When I would suggest we change it up, that “variety is the spice of life”, that sentiment would get shot down almost immediately.
She had a preconceived notion of certain cities or countries, and little could change her opinion. She wanted to stick to the safe and predictable experiences she had come to know like shopping and brunch.
When you’re opposed to change, you’re not just limiting your experiences, you’re also limiting the opportunities for growth.
If, on the other hand, you’re open to new experiences and change and are flexible when things don’t go as planned, these are, simply put, acts of wisdom.
2) You’ve learned that time is valuable
Here’s the thing: when you’re young, you tend to spread yourself a bit too thin.
You have the energy to mindlessly engage in multiple things at a time, be it social circles or bad habits.
As you grow up, so does your outlook. You start to become more conscious about who you spend your time with and what you’re doing.
In short, you begin growing indifferent to trivial and tedious concerns.
Remember, time is a non-renewable resource. With increased wisdom comes a fresh set of priorities, namely activities that truly matter to you and bring you joy.
You also begin to realize the value of rest and its benefits.
You start letting go and saying ‘no’ to people and things that bring you down, opening up room for the things that really matter to you. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
3) You’ve learned about the power of gratitude
We live in a social media-obsessed world where comparing is one of our foremost pastimes.
Nobody seems to be content where they are. We always want a bit more than what we need.
This never-ending quest for fulfillment doesn’t just cause mental health issues, it’s not a sustainable way of going about life.
The wise person recognizes the significance of appreciating what you have while you have it.
They’re not constantly trying to one-up one another or show off, using empty validation as a source of gratification.
They find happiness in the little things in life and regularly express their gratitude to the people and activities that bring it to them.
In a nutshell, wisdom brings the understanding that experiences and relationships deliver far more happiness than material possessions.
4) You’ve learned about the importance of self-love
Who knows, maybe it’s the media, maybe it’s Instagram or X (aka the social network formerly known as Twitter) but somehow today, we have this warped definition of what a grown-up should be.
For many, it means perpetuating the toxic hustle mentality of working unnecessarily long hours and never having an idle moment.
The ironic part of this attitude is that it often results in self-neglect and burnout.
Remember, taking care of yourself, mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually is not at all selfish or self-indulgent, it’s absolutely necessary.
The wise person prioritizes self-care and maintaining healthy boundaries.
They do things that benefit them and help them move forward on their journeys; be it cooking a nourishing meal, getting some exercise in, or making sleep a priority.
They’ve also learned to let go. Whether it’s past regrets, toxic relationships, or unrealistic expectations, they know how to release things that no longer serve them.
I remember an ancient Zen proverb that went like this: “Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”
The point is, when you begin to actively love and appreciate yourself, life becomes more meaningful. The wise person is highly attuned to this mindset.
6) You’ve learned that not everyone will like you
In high school and even your early twenties, life is pretty much a popularity contest.
You tend to want to hoard friends and acquaintances like baseball cards or NFTs. It’s only natural at a certain age that you want to be well-liked and in demand.
The wise person understands that they cannot please everyone–and attempting to do so isn’t being honest with themselves.
Wise people are unafraid to ruffle feathers. They don’t compromise their fundamental, authentic selves for the superficial goal of appeasing society or gaining admiration.
So, you keep doing you.
The people who count, not the fake friends, will still be there for you when it matters.
As wartime UK prime minister Winston Churchill once said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
7) You’ve learned that failure can be a stepping stone
In life, there’s always a silver lining when things go wrong.
Being wise means realizing that failure is a necessary means of self-improvement.
When the wise person doesn’t succeed, they try again, new lessons in tow.
They view mistakes and shortcomings as solvable obstacles to learning and growth, not as deterrents.
Granted, the heartache from failure or rejection hurts for anyone, but the difference with the wise person is that they’ll use failure as a platform for bouncing back… stronger than before.
I have a friend who recently moved to a new country. He’s been struggling to get his bearings, mostly relying on the income of his wife to make ends meet.
He told me he stopped applying for work, as he was disheartened by a recent string of rejections.
I responded by saying that his approach was wrong and defeatist, that he needed to persevere, to thicken his skin, using what went wrong in previous applications as a means of nailing the next interview.
After all, not many people get a decent job after sending a handful of applications.
For the majority of us, it can take hundreds of applications, and more importantly, a bit of resilience, to get the job we want and feel we deserve.
8) You’ve learned to live in the present
Like the aforementioned friend, it’s so easy to wallow in past mistakes or fret about the future, but by doing so you’re robbing yourself of enjoying the moment.
I get it though–I used to be something of a worry wart myself.
I’d frantically ruminate about everything under the sun, from an awkward conversation I had a decade ago to the prospect of losing my job to contracting the terminal illness I read about the evening before.
Somehow, a few years back, I had a Eureka moment: the stress I was getting by worrying about things that were out of my control was depriving me of the enjoyment of day-to-day life.
I noticed other people I respected and admired mindfully living life in the moment. It took a while but I gathered the resolved to change.
And though it’s still a work in process–righting the wrongs so ingrained within my constitution–the difference is now palpable.
I’m one step closer to gaining wisdom, I guess you could say.
Life is intrinsically unpredictable and even the best-laid plans are disrupted.
If you’ve made the leap toward embracing uncertainty and remaining flexible, you’re miles ahead of the game.
Take it from the sage Grand Master Oogway from the Kung Fu Panda films: “Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, but Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
Real talk: if these life lessons are already part of your makeup, then give yourself a gentle pat on the back. You’re one step closer to Yoda himself.
You’ve come to terms that life’s a constantly-changing journey, not a destination.
And if you feel there’s still room to grow, then don’t fret. The fact you can acknowledge it is already an ideal start.
Remember, it’s never too late to gain wisdom. You just have to approach things with an open heart and mind.
And the brilliant thing is, you literally have it in you, you just have to tap that energy; once you do, you’ll become unstoppable.
So keep these lessons near, refer to them when necessary, and always remain open to new learning.
You’re navigating this mystery called life admirably well.
Continue moving forward, always evolving and maintaining your authenticity. Don’t let up!