10 signs you’re dealing with a really wise person, according to psychology

We’ve all met those people who made us think “Wow, they really have their stuff together.”

It’s not that they’re just educated or savvy, but they emulate an air of wisdom and you can’t help but notice it.  

It’s always nice to be in the presence of people like that. You know you can count on them for advice and to be a steady presence during a crisis.

Over the years, I met a lot of wise people and I was always interested in what it was about them that made them stand out.

How can we quantify wisdom? 

Every country has its own historical and cultural association with wisdom. In ancient India, the street Babas and Yogis are often hailed as wise holy men who have transcended the mundanity of material life. 

In China, there’s a rich culture of Buddhist and Taoist Qi Gong masters who seem to know untold secrets of healing and alchemy. 

But does that mean you need to be an extremely flexible old man with a pointy beard to be deemed wise? Luckily not. 

In this article, I’ll cover what psychology says about wise people and signs you’re dealing with a wise person. 

1) Taking the “Middle Path”

The idea of taking the Middle Path dates back to ancient Chinese Buddhism. The idea talks about how living a life of equilibrium and avoiding extremes is better for personal harmony. 

Don’t know which way to go? Go the middle way. 

Wise people know where to draw the line between extremes. They understand that all types of extremes can easily lead to disaster. 

It really is an almost irrefutable nugget of wisdom — and it’s not just an ancient concept either. 

Even modern psychology describes wisdom as having the ability to moderate between extremes. 

We all know those people who can’t help but take things to the extreme. Whether it’s working too much, exercising without rest, or eating too much. 

In the end, all forms of extremity stem from a lack of control and moderation. 

When you don’t narrow yourself to extremes, you keep your doors open to new experiences. 

2) You’re open-minded

Open-mindedness is the bread and butter of wisdom. 

Psychologists link it closely with the personality trait called “openness,” which is all about embracing new experiences and perspectives. 

This trait walks hand-in-hand with critical thinking. 

Why? 

Because open-minded folks don’t just gulp down information. They chew on it, question it, and sometimes, they spit it out if it doesn’t taste right. 

They’re not about nodding along — they’re about digging deep. And this, my friends, is a cornerstone of wisdom.

3) They listen more than they speak

You’ve probably heard that saying “Empty boxes rattle the loudest.” 

Instinctively, you can most likely feel the truth behind that statement.

Think of those loud obnoxious people you met at parties who seem to be able to talk forever without actually saying anything substantial. 

By contrast, people who listen and observe without feeling the impulse to force their point across exude wisdom. 

There’s power in listening, and wise people know this. They soak up every word, thought, and feeling before they weigh in. 

And when they do speak, it’s with purpose and insight. 

This isn’t by accident — it’s a deliberate practice to understand deeply before responding.

4) They’re comfortable saying “I don’t know”

This one might surprise you — wise people are totally cool with admitting they don’t have all the answers

Admitting ignorance might seem like a weakness in a world obsessed with know-it-alls. But it’s actually a sign of strength. 

It shows a recognition of one’s limitations and a readiness to learn. 

5) They laugh a lot

happy couples from unhappy ones 10 signs you're dealing with a really wise person, according to psychology

Being able to laugh about things shows you don’t take things so seriously

While it might seem counterintuitive, wisdom isn’t about wearing a straight face and appearing stoic and unmoving.

Ever heard of the laughing Buddha? 

Seriously though. Psychology has long linked humor with wisdom.

Having the ability to laugh even when things go south shows emotional and mental resilience. It signifies a person who won’t pity themselves no matter how rough things get. 

After all, you can’t change the past, right? Why not laugh your way right into the future? 

“The one worthwhile is the one with a smile when everything else goes dead wrong.” — S.N. Goenka

6) They embrace change

Wise folks also have this nifty ability to see change coming from a mile away. 

They’re not psychics or anything, but they pay attention to the little signs that say, “Hey, something new’s on the horizon!” 

And instead of building a fortress to keep change out, they start thinking about the best way to welcome it. 

They know they can’t control everything, but they can definitely control how they react and adapt.

Sometimes, power doesn’t come from having everything under control. Rather, it comes with the freedom of letting go and swimming with the current.

7) They seek diverse perspectives

Wisdom doesn’t live in an echo chamber.

Wise people actively seek out opinions and viewpoints different from their own. 

This isn’t about proving themselves right — it’s about expanding their understanding and growing. It’s a humility thing, recognizing that no one has a monopoly on truth.

These days, people get really touchy about their personal beliefs. And it’s not uncommon for people to get downright aggressive when people disagree with them. 

There’s no sugar-coating it — that’s a really silly way to behave. If you can’t listen to other people, you don’t deserve to be listened to. 

Wise people understand that hearing multiple angles is a learning opportunity. And in these uncertain times, the more we have of that the better!

8) They do good

Can you be wise and evil at the same time? 

I think not!

Wise people are unselfish and they understand the importance of behaving well within a community of people. 

The truth that we all affect each other is deeply embedded into their thought patterns and way of life. 

You’ll notice that wise people won’t rush to the front of the queue or fail to give their seat to an elderly person. 

Psychology links wisdom to prosocial behavior. It comes easily to them because they’re highly empathetic. 

9) They’re empathetic

Empathy means you can feel other peoples’ suffering as well as their successes. 

It’s the ability to know what another person is feeling because you’re experiencing it too. 

Not everyone’s empathy level is the same. 

Some people have a more cognitive style of understanding how other people are feeling. That is, they make inferences about their feelings based on how they’re behaving. 

Other people have a natural knack for actually feeling what other people are going through.

Wise people excel here.  They listen, empathize, and respond in ways that show genuine care and understanding. 

It’s this empathy that often makes them go to people for advice and comfort. And we should be grateful to have them around.

10) They practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude really is the secret sauce of wisdom.

Gratitude practice has been shown to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve mood
  • Boost immunity
  • Mitigate anxiety

Wonder why wise people also seem so calm? 

It might be as simple as having a grateful attitude that rewires their brain to work with them instead of against them. 

This gratitude attitude isn’t a one-off thing; it’s like their daily workout for the soul. 

They make it a habit to reflect on the good bits of their day, maybe jotting them down in a journal or simply taking a quiet moment to think them over. 

It’s like they’re collectors of happy moments and kind gestures, always adding more to their mental treasure chest.

But how can you practice gratitude? 

  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Savor enjoyable moments mindfully
  • Be kind to people in your life (and strangers) 

You’d be surprised how much these little behaviors can change how you experience the world. 

Final thoughts

You know a wise person when you see one, am I right? 

However, maybe you’ve never thought about it deeply or bothered to try to pin down the exact characteristics that signify wisdom. 

Hopefully, this article helped you get a more concrete grasp of what wisdom really entails. It will help you identify truly wise people when you encounter them in life. 

You might notice that they’re good listeners, they laugh even when things are looking gray, and they also go out of their way to help others. 

Psychology has linked these characteristics to wisdom. It doesn’t have to be an ancient mystery!

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00