Wisdom and the Art of Decision-Making


  Wisdom and the Art of Decision-Making

Everything in life is a decision. You decide whether to get out of bed, what to wear, and where you want to go for lunch.

Ultimately, the quality of your  life is determined by the quality of your decisions – especially the difficult ones. And one way to make better decisions is through wisdom. This may not be intuitive: people often think wisdom and knowledge are not necessarily related. But they are inextricably linked; it's impossible to have true knowledge without some measure of wisdom or perspective on how it applies in a given situation.

Moreover, wisdom is a quality that can be cultivated. And in this way, we can make better decisions – and live happier lives. According to Joris Luijendijk , author of Wisdom and the Art of Decision-Making : "The essence of wisdom is living with less regret." Living with less regret means making choices that are better for you and your loved ones in the long-run. In other words, being "wise."

So how do we cultivate wisdom? And how do we use it to make better decisions? Here are some guidelines:

1. Accept your limitations.  Learn to see yourself as you really are , warts and all. And don't pretend you have the answers if you don't.
2. Pay attention to your inner voice – that something that sounds like a voice but isn't necessarily verbal or vocal. This is what you are called to do, but it's something you can develop over time as well.
3. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude . Which means appreciating what you have even at the time when nothing is going right in your life. According to Luijendijk: "Remaining grateful is a choice, and it's an act of wisdom per se."
4. Take care of yourself and your needs . There is little value in denying yourself necessary things – whether food or sleep or love – when they are needed most.
5. Stay away from negativity. People who are negative and complain too much, Luijendijk says, tend to live with more regret than those who keep their feelings to themselves or express them in another way.
6. Practice forgiveness . It's another way of saying you're seeing yourself as you really are, and then taking action to change the things you need to change.
7. Keep your promises . How many people do you know who make promises they never keep? Make a habit of it, and people will trust your word even when it is inconvenient for them to do so.
8. Engage in acts of kindness for others – but also for yourself . Doing good for others, Luijendijk says, is a sign you have a strong sense of how lucky you are in this life.
9. Take responsibility for your actions . You are ultimately responsible for the quality of your life – it's not the result of destiny, or something else beyond your control. You can take responsibility and change what needs to be changed. 
10. Identify opportunities to make changes . If you see something that needs to be changed within yourself or in the world around you, make the necessary course correction through action.
11. Learn from the past. Remembering and learning from your mistakes is essential for growth and change .
12. Don't forget to make gratitude a habit – which means appreciating where you are in life, even in the midst of suffering, for what you have in the moment.
13. Practice wisdom, courage and compassion . The three greatest virtues of a human being, according to Luijendijk: These are basics to being wise, courageous and compassionate .
14. Live simply . Simplicity is a way of life and not an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality .
15. Exercise regularly . Being physically fit takes care of all your other needs. It should be viewed as a top priority – you can't think clearly or make good decisions if you're out of shape.
16. Eat healthy foods . A key component to wisdom is to be informed about what goes into your body – which means eating the right foods at the right time, and avoiding junk food, for example, which isn't conducive to living a wise life. 
17. Engage in learning activities outside the home . Your mind is an instrument that needs to be sharpened through exercise.
18. Read more books , which helps you use your imagination and learn from others' mistakes and successes in life.
19. Stay in relationships with people who are supportive . People who give you negative energy don't serve your best interests – for anything, but especially not for making decisions when you need to make them.
20. Surround yourself with the right people . Who can provide counsel when they're needed, as opposed to being a drain on your energy resources.
21. Practice forgiving and being forgiven . Forgiveness is a sign that you have learned from your mistakes and are moving on in a positive way.
22. Be comfortable with making mistakes . Most people lack the comfort level to take chances, make decisions and live without regrets. But learning to be comfortable with failure is another way to develop wisdom over time – because mistakes allow you to find out what works and what doesn't, instead of theorizing about it in your head.
23. Don't dwell on questions that can't be answered . This allows you to spend more time on questions that can be answered – and then acted upon.
24. Do something nice for someone else . It doesn't have to be anything big, but it is the right way to live, not just for others but for yourself.
25. Practice gratitude . It's another way to practice acceptance , and being grateful takes a lot of pressure off of you so you can be more comfortable and relaxed in any given situation.
26. Practice meditation . This is the best way to sort through your thoughts and come up with the best plan of action in any given situation.
27. Take responsibility for your needs without blame . This is another sign that you are comfortable with not having all the answers – and instead focus on finding solutions through compromise or whatever else it takes to move forward sanely.
28. Don't make everything about yourself . Leaving room for others to be involved in situations and available to them in whatever way you can makes you less selfish and more compassionate, which are two signs of wisdom.
29. Grow your mind through reading . Which is another way of saying you're bettering yourself through information that comes from others, as well as from your own experiences. It's all about growing your mind over time.
30. Seek out mentors and people who know more than you . Surround yourself with people who can teach you something – because everyone has something to share with the world, even if it's just a little bit of knowledge they've picked up along the way.
31. Cultivate a tolerant attitude towards other people and opinions .

Conclusion: Wisdom is a gradual process. It's not something that happens overnight, but it happens over time as you learn what works and what doesn't in life – and then act accordingly. You have far more wisdom inside of you than you can possibly imagine. The key is learning to tap into it when necessary – but not keeping yourself so busy that you never take the time to do so.
"I was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." -Jerome K. Jerome

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