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Are you sharing your wisdom?

Posted on June 12, 2014 | Comments

A recent headline asked:  “Do you have 100 years of wisdom?  Project needs participants.”  The “100 Years Project” is seeking centenarians to participate in a new documentary program to create a video equivalent of an international elder council.  Reading this had me wondering if wisdom is a virtue or a trait.  Is there a psychology to it?  Do some of us have wisdom and others don’t?  How do we know if we are wise?

Psychology Today describes a wise person as one who possesses: good understanding and common sense; discernment about right and wrong; a strong sense of curiosity; versatility; and critical thinking skills.  Studies have been made to measure the performance of younger and older adults on tasks involving wisdom.   Tests were given to quantify a person’s ability to manage the “peaks and valleys of life” and give insights into “the quintessential aspects of the human condition.”  Not surprising to read that older adults outperformed the “young-uns” proving the familiar adage that “age is sage.”

In June we have opportunities to celebrate both grads and dads—easily a time for folks full of life’s wisdom to be congratulating those who are just starting to acquire it. While there are commencement speakers offering inspiring “words of wisdom,” there’s a wealth of wisdom among our immediate family members and friends—grandparents, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles.  The question is: Are we doing enough to ensure that younger generations have access to this rich resource?  Or has the potential for our seniors to share their life-experiences and insight been replaced by Google and internet research?

In 2011, a social media campaign was initially launched to bring grandparent-type wisdom to young people who didn’t have someone in their life to provide it.  The idea also appealed to families who used the website as a repository for their family history.  While the project ultimately did not gain enough traction to sustain it long-term, the concept is something we can utilize within our own families if we make the effort.  Simple digital devices are available for recording valuable wisdoms in creative interviews and storytelling that can easily be shared in one form or another.

Today, one of our most precious natural resources may well be the older, wiser adult.  Yet, without a commitment in some way to preserve our family bonds and unique legacies, we may lose this wealth of wisdom if younger people default to the internet and their smartphones for answers to the questions and guidance they may seek. We would all be wise to give this some thought…

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