WISDOM FOR ALL TIMES, WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES
This is a quarterly newsletter promoting wisdom within our culture.
This newsletter is presented by Geoff Woods, Certified Life Coach and Founder of
The Institute of Wisdom and Courage.
This is my sixth newsletter entitled WISDOM FOR ALL TIMES, WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES. It is my hope that you enjoy reading and thinking about the ideas within this newsletter.
In my previous newsletter, I defined my foundational wisdom principle (FWP) and another principle based upon it. In this newsletter IÕd like to discuss with you one part of the second principle. As a reminder, the two principles are written below:
1. FWP: People have a difficult time differentiating between good and evil, where evil may be seen as that which is bad or destructive. And that people have difficulty making these kinds of important distinctions is a great source of unhappiness.
2. Related Principle: True and greater happiness can be experienced in developing the four fruits of wisdom, which are self-control, sound judgment, reconciled relationships, and courage.
I now want to write briefly about self -control since it is one of the four fruits of wisdom. The benefits of practicing self control are becoming lost in our culture since the practice of self control is at odds with a pervading societal belief, which maintains that humans should be free and uncontrolled with their desires. The presumption is, then, people will find true happiness within this freedom. In contrast, self -control admits the existence of desires, but it requires humans to have control over desires instead of desires having control over them. This control is over thoughts, feelings, fantasies, as well as over the allure of power, fame, and fortune. And it is within this type of control where humans will find true happiness.
So what exactly is the relationship between self-control and wisdom, and, how does it lead to happiness? Acquiring wisdom means one has to take the time to study, reflect, search for, and implement wisdom principles. In order to gain wisdom, a person canÕt be out of control. This means a person canÕt react in any way he wants to every thought and feeling and still expect to acquire wisdom. It is self -control that allows someone to say no to certain thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions that inhibit the growth of wisdom and courage. One must first have self-control or discipline to acquire wisdom, and in the process of gaining wisdom, one gains more self-control, and then through this new self-control one will gain new forms of wisdom. The result is that going through this process then gives someone the strength to say yes to other thoughts, feelings, desires and actions that will lead to a life full of wisdom. It is self-control that moves a person into wisdom and maintains this movement or journey of finding and applying new forms of wisdom. Through this life process one will find true happiness.
What are your thoughts about self-control? Do you think self-control is beneficial? When you hear the words self-control, is there a positive or negative reaction?
Now, letÕs return to looking at four more characteristics of wisdom. Below is the same text that has been in my other newsletters, so letÕs take a close look at irresistible, beneficent, humane and steadfast. I encourage you to quickly reread the text below to reacquaint yourself with this passage from the Book of Wisdom.
The Nature of Wisdom
There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.
Book of Wisdom 7:22-30
The first of the four characteristics is irresistible. Irresistible means to be incapable of being resisted. If wisdom is described as irresistible this means when one finds it and applies it, then it becomes an enticing and compelling force in oneÕs life; a force that is incapable of being resisted. Irresistible is an incredible adjective describing wisdom, since it means that once one has a taste of wisdom and the positive effects it has on oneÕs life and on the lives of others, then one wants more and canÕt resist having more. ItÕs almost like wanting your favorite dessert. You remember how good it is and then when you have it, you really enjoy it, but your taste isnÕt satiated because you continue to want more. However, the pleasure of wisdom is far greater than any desserts! After reading this brief description of irresistible, is wisdom irresistible to you?
The second characteristic is beneficent. What comes to mind when you hear the word beneficent? By definition, beneficent means causing good to be done so that it adds something positive to oneÕs life. Beneficent also includes something that is not only good for one personÕs life, but also good for another personÕs life. A person may have something beneficial in his life that catches the attention of others, who then perceive this as beneficial and then in turn apply it to their lives as well. Asking for forgiveness from someone you have hurt is a great example of a good, positive act that can be passed on from one person to another. The communication between people of the process of forgiveness and how it helped heal a broken relationship is extremely valuable and beneficial to others. So, do you believe wisdom is beneficial to your life?
The third characteristic is humane. Humane means to possess what is considered the best qualities of human beings, such as to be kind, tender, merciful, sympathetic, and civil. This list also includes forthright, truthful, and courageous. Inherent within the definition of the word humane is the discernment to know when to use these qualities and in what situations. For example, to be kind to a thief would be inhumane to the victim. And it is wisdom and its principles that enlighten people in the development of humaneness. After reading this, how does wisdom help us be humane?
The fourth and final characteristic is steadfast. Steadfast means fixed in direction, firm in purpose, and unwavering. These are powerful words that describe steadfast. Wisdom guides human beings and, therefore, fixes the direction on how to act in life, especially during difficult and trying situations. Wisdom is not to be pushed to the side or thrown out when life gets difficult. Wisdom gives human beings a purpose and a strong foundation upon which to make good and yet difficult choices that come during trying times in life. Wisdom has the ability to elevate humans above and move humans beyond their own resentments, vengeance, circumstances and despair. So, have you experienced the steadfastness of wisdom in your life?
In looking ahead to the next newsletter, I will be discussing the next four characteristics of wisdom, which are sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, and overseeing all.
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Founder of The Institute of Wisdom and Courage and Certified Life Coach