In a world dominated by commerce, where nearly everything carries a price tag and can be purchased via an app, some things remain beyond the reach of trade. Wisdom, for example, stands out as a remarkable exception.

Even with everything being turned into products, like health, learning and fun, wisdom doesn’t come so instantly. In this article, I explore the critical distinctions between purchasable knowledge and more profound, harder-earned wisdom, focusing particularly on the misconceptions of instant knowledge and the important role of education and experience.

Today’s society is embracing the idea of instant gratification. From same-day delivery services to on-demand streaming and fast food, the expectation is that needs and desires should be fulfilled almost as soon as they arise.

We have a “know-it-all wizard” in the palm of our hand, Siri can answer any question from “Where is the nearest store?” to “How does quantum physics work?” We have more access to knowledge than ever before but are somehow less able to retain information. Why? Because we know it’s available, and we don’t have to work hard for it. The world of smartphones has made people dumb.

Acquiring knowledge is often confused with being smart or wise. But in this era where everyone can share a quote from a smart philosopher or a mathematician simply by asking Dr. Google for “the right thing to say,” there’s an inflation in the value of knowledge.

With time, knowledge will turn into wisdom. And this involves a layer of depth, understanding, and application that data searches or information collection cannot provide. It is the result of not only consuming information but also critically analyzing, synthesizing, and applying it to oneself in meaningful ways.

The process of becoming wise requires exploration, mistakes, learning from those errors, and gradually building a nuanced understanding of the world. Unlike a book purchased from a store or a video watched online, acquiring wisdom is personal and cannot be fast-tracked. It requires a person to actively engage with information, challenge preconceived notions, and adapt insights to their complex personal and societal contexts.

Education also has a significant role in HOW we learn.

While it is easy to mistakenly equate education with the acquisition of wisdom, formal education is just a foundation. Schools, universities, and online courses are expected to provide the tools and frameworks necessary to begin understanding complex concepts and theories, but they can only provide knowledge, and how it’s used depends on those who learn.

Wisdom then comes from applying learned concepts to real-world situations, which often involve unpredictable variables and conditions that classroom settings can rarely replicate.

Sadly, we have recently seen that top universities in the USA aren’t teaching critical thinking; in fact, quite the opposite.

The educator’s job is to equip students with materials that are based on truth, and facts, theories, and methodologies—while experience transforms these raw materials into the edifice of wisdom. This transformation happens as individuals engage with diverse environments, face challenges that require creative problem-solving, and interact with people who offer different perspectives and insights. For instance, a surgeon does not attain proficiency solely through medical textbooks; it is gained through years of interacting with patients, making difficult decisions under pressure, and reflecting on those experiences to improve future care. Inevitably, this process may involve making horrible mistakes along the way.

Moreover, experience will contribute to wisdom by fostering resilience and adaptability—qualities that are crucial in our rapidly evolving and expanding world. These qualities are not the direct products of formal education or a series of Google searches, but are developed through applying educational principles in varied and often challenging circumstances.

If you ask me, a big part of wisdom is the ability to recognize our limitations. Intellectual humility is crucial because it opens the way for continuous learning. If you already know everything, what can you possibly learn? Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your cup so that it may be filled.”

Through acknowledging that one does not know everything, a wise individual remains open to new ideas and perspectives. This humility is also not something that can be bought or quickly acquired; it is a trait that develops through experience and sincere engagement with the world.

Various cultures and philosophical traditions provide diverse perspectives on wisdom, often linking it to moral and ethical maturity – in addition to knowledge. For example, many Eastern philosophies consider wisdom to be synonymous with virtues like compassion, patience, and mindfulness, which are seen as qualities to be cultivated over a lifetime rather than traits that can be instantly acquired. These viewss emphasize that wisdom is not just about knowing what is right but also about doing what is right. It’s a capability that underscores the deep connections between knowledge, action, and moral discernment.

While the modern world offers a myriad of shortcuts and quick fixes, with information available at our fingertips, wisdom remains distinctly resistant to such immediacy. It cannot be bought, sold, or downloaded. True wisdom must be cultivated through the thoughtful, challenging process of real-world experience. It is less about the accumulation of resources and more about how one uses their resources to live well and ethically. As such, it lies not in what we know, but in how we apply that knowledge to make the world a better place.

So I ask you, if wisdom is currency, how rich are you?

Tsahi Shemesh
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts

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