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6 Ways to Nurture Your Inner Sage

6 Ways to Nurture Your Inner Sage

“Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in your fruit salad.” – Miles Kington.

Wisdom has a close relationship with sight-related words: foresight, insight, hindsight, reflection, enlightenment, visionary, etc. The wise person is able to see beyond the small issues and find a larger perspective; that is why they are so fascinating and useful. Telling your problems to a wise person will result in a solution that you might have not been able to think of, because you are too concerned with your own problems (which, in the scheme of things, are small).

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Really, isn’t wisdom why we are all here? If wisdom is looking beyond individual things and seeing larger trends, then people on this website can see that their life is made up of all the little habits and traits that make them so individual. Crafting a better life is all about focusing on those small things and hacking them to create a larger effect further on in time.

Here are six uses of this skill of looking beyond the near and the obvious. They all have this one thing in common, but have wide and far reaching effects.

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See Beyond the Cloud of Emotions

Beginning with Aristotle and Plato, philosophers have argued that emotions interact with reason when we make decisions. Aristotle believed that emotions exist on difference scales, and having an extreme on either side of the scale is a failing. For example, the virtue of courage is the perfect middle ground between the extreme emotions of foolhardiness and cowardice. The way to make this balance, in Aristotle’s view, is by the use of reason. Or, to use a cartoon example, the Green Lantern has to use power rings of different colours (emotions) occasionally to overcome his enemies. Only when these emotions are channelled through the power of his green ring (representing willpower) can Hal Jordan save the day.

Seek Long-Term Goals instead of Short-Term Pleasures

The infamous marshmallow test suggests that being able to delay gratification is a cornerstone trait of successful people. But, more than that, it is linked to better physical health, psychological health and social standing. The connection is obvious: it is far easier to sit down and watch TV or eat, rather than going for a walk, having a heart-to-heart with a loved one, or making new friends. It is easy to forget what you want in the long-term when you don’t have clear goals—that is why having them is such an indicator of success.

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Dispel the Illusion of Certainty

Life is certain? Are you sure about that? Every living creature tends towards homeostasis: it attempts to stabilise its environment for security, stability and simplicity. The tendency of chance is to create insecurity, instability and complexity, but it is only through chance that living things can evolve. Evolution isn’t just limited to biology—it happens with culture and innovation as well. The wrong chance adaptions can cause an organism to die out (unsuccessful mutation) and this can be true of other evolution. The chance development of fire mutated and changed the race that discovered it; the chance development of nuclear power and rockets did the same, but they may be our end.
With chance, there are no limits to change because there are no restrictions of logic, purpose or morality. Understanding the nature of the dice can shatter comfortable realities, but it can also stop people from living an illusion.

See the Consequences of Your Actions

Just like throwing a rock into a lake, your actions create ripples. When you fail to understand the consequences of your actions, there are two resulting problems: if the consequence was negative, you will fail to learn from your mistake and keep on repeating the problem behaviour; if the consequence was positive, you will be unable to repeat the behaviour that gave you your desired results. Either way, you lose out. When you assess different courses of action, understanding the potential consequences is what allows you to repeatedly make the best decision. Remember the carpenter’s proverb; “measure twice, cut once”.

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Understand the Holistic Nature of Knowledge and Community

Learning in one area can improve learning in others. This isn’t touched upon much in schools, although some people capitalise upon it and produce great work in their exams. The classic example is that learning a musical instrument can make you better at mathematics. Our brains aren’t good at dividing what we know into subject areas—people just try to force them to do so.
The same can be said of communities: we live in societies that are dependent upon others, and part of accepting that is offering the acceptance we would give to a neighbour across the street to the people of a neighbouring country. Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all humans belong to a single community based on shared respect and morality. It is the reason that Egyptian Muslims and Christians can protect each other as they pray, or that Superman can renounce his American citizenship to show that he is a protector of humanity and not just a single country.

See Things as They Are

Many of us have our vision obscured by the information presented to us. Media capitalises on sensational and gruesome stories, with little attention paid to the mundane, which makes it easy for us to become disenchanted with the world. When we see current events, there is wisdom in looking into the context and the history behind those events, as well as looking forward to the possible future outcomes. In the history and context lie stories and motivations that are ignored just to give a story a certain spin or to make an argument appear stronger.

The truly wise man understands how far the scope of knowledge extends and how little they know in comparison. Because of this, a wise man would never try to list comprehensively all the ways to become wise, so these are a just a chosen few. Feel free to add to them, in your own time.

Featured photo credit:  Piercing owl Eyes via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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