“Knowledge is like underwear. It is useful to have it, but not necessary to show it off.”

Bill Murray

I’ve recently embarked on a quest, a sort of spiritual scavenger hunt, to uncover the true meaning of wisdom. Now, before you picture me meditating atop a Himalayan peak or leafing through dusty tomes in a forgotten library, let me assure you, my journey is far less Instagram-worthy. It mostly involves me, in my pajamas, Googling “How to be wise?” while simultaneously questioning my life choices.

So, what does it really mean to be wise? If you ask the internet, it’s a mix of profound quotes, usually superimposed on images of sunsets or elderly people staring thoughtfully into the distance. But I suspect there’s more to it than becoming a human fortune cookie.

Wisdom, as I’ve come to understand it, is like that one friend who shows up uninvited, tells you the hard truths about your questionable fashion choices, but also helps you hide the evidence of your midnight ice cream binge. It’s knowing a little about a lot, and a lot about how little you actually know.

Now, how does one consciously strive to be a little wiser?

First, embrace your inner fool. Yes, you heard me. The path to wisdom is paved with “Oops” and “I can’t believe I just did that.” Remember that time you tried to make a smoothie and forgot to put the lid on the blender? That’s not just a mess; that’s a life lesson in the making.

Second, listen more than you speak. I know, it’s a tough one for me too. I love the sound of my own voice. It’s like a warm blanket made of ego and self-importance. But occasionally, let someone else take the mic. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn when you’re not busy rehearsing your next witty retort.

Third, read. Not just tweets or the back of cereal boxes, though they have their place. Dive into books, articles, the occasional shampoo bottle. Expand your horizons beyond your comfort zone. Who knows? You might find your new favorite author sandwiched between a spy thriller and a cookbook in the bargain bin.

Lastly, laugh at yourself. Often. If you can’t find humor in your own follies, you’re missing out on a wealth of joy and self-acceptance. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than crying in the fetal position, which I’ve also tried. Spoiler alert: laughing is better.

Being wise isn’t about having all the answers. It’s about asking the right questions, like “Why did I think starting a diet on Thanksgiving was a good idea?” or “Is it normal to talk to houseplants?” It’s a journey, not a destination. And on this journey, don’t forget to pack a sandwich. Wisdom might feed the soul, but you’re going to need a snack for the road.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.