Wisdom and the Power of Questions


  Wisdom and the Power of Questions

What is wisdom?
Is it a question?
Is it an answer?
Is it something in between?
How do we get there or find it? 

Wisdom is not one thing. Wisdom is the ability to discern and understand such things as good and evil, beauty and ugliness, justice and injustice. In other words, wisdom comes from being able to recognize that which is of value in our world. When you ask for clarity about what matters most in your life, you are asking for wisdom. When you ask yourself what stands in the way of your happiness, you are asking for wisdom.

Wisdom is a process and a form of knowledge, an inner knowing. It begins when questions bring clarity and meaning to your life. But wisdom is not found simply through asking questions. Wisdom requires that you seek answers and take action based on those answers; it requires having knowledge but also making choices. Wisdom requires that we do something with what we have learned, that we act on our insights and experience so that our lives may be better. It is not enough to inquire; you must also act.

Wisdom is a path that you travel, a journey that begins with an understanding of who you are and what matters most in your life. It involves developing and clarifying core values and goals, then taking the actions necessary to achieve them. For some, wisdom provides the road map they use to make their way through life; for others it provides only the impetus—the inspiration or motivation—to create such a road map.

The stories in this chapter illustrate the different paths people have taken on their journeys of wisdom, revealing how questions can guide us as we learn about ourselves and change our lives accordingly. You may learn from these stories your own questions, and the paths you choose to walk as you learn about yourself and change your life accordingly.

We all have questions. Some of us have asked a lot of questions, perhaps more than others. Each day we spend a great deal of time asking questions.

Whenever we ask questions, we should keep in mind that these are not ordinary questions. We do not just ask them for the sake of asking them. Questions are powerful, and they can help us find the answers we need. If you have ever been lost and had a map, you know that it was not the mere act of looking at the map that got you from one location to another; you had to walk to get there. In effect, you used your body and your feet to move from one place to another in response to your vision held within that map. Similarly, when we ask questions it is not enough for us merely to ask them; we must seek answers with our minds and our hearts in order to find them.

When we take the time to examine our lives and our past, we invariably have questions. We may question ourselves and our decisions. We may question others' motives, actions, values or choices. We may question what has happened in the past and how we viewed or handled it at the time.

Sometimes we find that changing our perceptions to fit reality is like trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. Asking questions can help us understand this as well as other situations that are difficult for us to resolve on our own. When we begin asking questions, many of them may seem unrelated to our life. But as we examine and ponder the answers to them, we often will find that the questions we asked had relevance to our own situation. That is why it is important for us to listen carefully and reflect upon what someone is saying to us; for in their words there lies an opportunity for us to learn something about ourselves.

When we do not pay attention or reflect on what others are saying, especially when they are giving us advice or offering an opinion about how we should proceed in some matter, we may miss a valuable opportunity. We may overlook the fact that the advice or opinion they offer may be based on their personal experiences. If we do not pay attention and reflect, we may act on those opinions without considering the validity of their suggestions, or the wisdom of the choices they make. We may act without considering the impact our decisions will have on us, others or our part of creation.

We must be careful not to judge what someone else's advice is based upon a direct sampling of their lives. We all make mistakes in life; yet at the same time we all are human beings with very similar experiences and have made their share of mistakes as well. Many people make choices and decisions based on these similarities rather than on an honest assessment of what they think is best for themselves or for others.

As a result, at times people may tell you things that seem to be true and right at the time, but later on you may realize that they have not provided the answers you sought. Although their advice seemed to make sense at first, when we look back afterward we will often find that it did not answer our questions.

The truth is that there are many different paths in this world; there is no one path for us all. There are different paths for men and women and different paths for children, teenagers, children of divorce, parents of teenagers with busy schedules and parents with young children who cannot sit still long enough to listen or understand. In today's fast-paced society everyone moves at a different speed in life.

We all must adjust our lives to fit the circumstances we face. Each path has its own challenges and lessons, and each is unique. To explore these different paths with the wisdom we have at hand can be a truly liberating experience.

The Journey Begins

As adults, many of us already have a good idea of what our life goals are, but for others it can be difficult to make sense of what matters most to them or where they want to go in life. When we do not clarify these important goals for ourselves as well as how we will get there, it can become very difficult to move forward in our life journey.

Conclusion: Clarifying Our Lives and What Matters MOST

I have been asking myself these questions all my life.


It was late in the evening on a Friday night before I began my shift at work. As I went through the doorway, I stepped into an unexpected scene. One of my co-workers stood in front of me and asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes; then, as we were walking toward the parking lot of our department, he whispered to me that his wife wanted him to leave her and their young children.

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