How Does A Person Attain A Level of Wisdom?
Start writing a post

How Does A Person Attain A Level of Wisdom?

I think the answer can be found through a good read of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

How Does A Person Attain A Level of Wisdom?
Grace Bellman

This summer, I have been taking a Lifespan Developmental Psychology class for my Pre-Physical Therapy requirements. Each of the five weeks of class, we were asked to write opinionated discussion posts online. We were graded based not on our opinion but instead on the quality of our explanation. It was also mandatory that we cite a scholarly article in each of our posts.

All of the writing prompts were thought provoking and interesting to respond to. However, one question was particularly fascinating to me: How does a person attain a level of wisdom?

Most of my odyssey articles are opinion pieces or snippets of my life. I wanted to submit something unique that still held my voice and opinion but touched on a larger topic. Here is my response:

When approaching this discussion post topic, I thought about all the people in my personal life and in the world that I consider to be wise. I thought about Ernest Hemingway and his definition of courage as "grace under pressure." I thought about Nelson Mandela, who was wise enough to know that changing South African apartheid policies would require drastic action even at the cost of his own freedom. I thought about my Grandmama who always used to say that "nothing can't be solved with a little almond pound cake." That is a different kind of wisdom but it is wisdom all the same.

But one quote stuck out in my mind that seemed to encapsulate wisdom pretty well. Harper Lee wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." I think that is what it means to be wise. You need to be able to see things from a perspective other than your own, and you need to value that other perspective just as much as your own.

In the Journal of Happiness Studies, wisdom is defined as having "a knowledge of facts but also a deep understanding of life, particularly with regard to intrapersonal and interpersonal matters, including knowledge and acceptance of the positive and negative aspects of human nature" (Ardelt and Bergsma 2011). In this journal, the authors studied the relation between happiness and wisdom. Their results were that wisdom and happiness had a positive correlation, when controlling for sex, age, and education.

It is often said that those who are happier, live longer. I'm not sure if this is scientifically proven but it would make sense why we often equate wisdom with older age. If the two are positively correlated, it is probable that a man who is happy will live longer and coincidentally, whether it is due to breadth of life experience or simply age, he may also be wise.

Those who gain wisdom by being open-minded to others' viewpoints will live a happier and longer life because they will have given themselves the opportunity to see all of the world's beauty and diversity


Bergsma, A., & Ardelt, M. (2011). Self-Reported Wisdom and Happiness: An Empirical Investigation. Journal of Happiness Studies,13(3), 481-499. doi:10.1007/s10902-011-9275-5

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Dear College Students, Are You Undecided?

Up until last week, I always had a major. I was an international business major, finance major, psych major on the pre-medicine track… and now (finally) I am exactly where I should have been when I started college: undecided. I think there is too much pressure as a high school student to have a designated path about what you want to study, be when you 'grow up' and essentially spend the rest of your life doing. As an 18-year-old, I really feel like I tried to pin myself down to a major so that I had a set path to follow and something to look towards. This is probably very conventional and I know tons of people at school who have their minds made up about what they want to study.

Keep Reading... Show less

Life Is Messy

Finding who you are in your 20s

Life Is Messy

I am 25 years old and just now learning who I am. When I separated from my husband I was terrified of what would follow. I did not know who I was outside of a relationship, nor did I know how to be on my own. It was scary, and I was so lost. I spent months discovering who I was, and what I wanted to be. I am still searching as I believe we never truly know who we are even when we "grow up". I came to the realization that I had been hiding a part of myself for my entire life. Coming out was not easy, growing up in the church made it scary, and hard. I was told growing up that being anything but straight was such a sin, and that i would spent my life in hell because of it. I came out to my parents when I was 25 years old. I picked up the phone and called my mom, and uttered the words "I'm queer" through tears. I knew my parents would be supportive, but that didn't make it any easier for me to vulnerable and raw. Since then, I have slowly started being more authentic in who I am, and not hide parts of me just because of people's shitty opinions.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.

Ask Your BFF These 20 Questions To See If They Know You As Well As You THINK That They Do

My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.

Keep Reading... Show less

Alone At The Met

I survive a day alone in NYC.

Wikimedia Commons

It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

College 101: How To Ease The Back To School Blues

Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.

Beyond The States

With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments