When you think, ‘wise soul’, you probably think of a feathery old owl perched high up on a branch, gazing down at you and pondering concepts your mind couldn’t even fathom to ask.
But wise souls don’t just have to be owls.
A term typically also applied to people who seem knowledgeable, experienced, and wise beyond their years, you’ll probably know when you stumble upon one.
You might very well be the wise soul in question.
Some believe having lived many past lives leaves a person with a world-wizened soul.
Additionally, having a multitude of varied life experiences can also shape and expand a person’s world view.
The conclusion is generally the same; people considered to have wise souls seem open-minded, knowledgeable, and mature.
Whether this is due to their ability to tap into the experiences gained in their past lives or from the experiences that have shaped their present remains open for debate.
Either way, wise souls often spend a large portion of their time ruminating on unanswerable questions such as timelessness, reincarnation, and the meaning of life.
The capacity to consider and reflect upon these topics can be exhausting and exhilarating in equal measures.
So what other types of things do wise souls spend their time pondering?
1) The age of modern society and impact of technological advances
It’s easy to get swept up in the tide of new trends.
Many people enjoy giggling away at new Snapchat filters that give you puppy ears or have a fun time terrorizing ChatGPT, but the wiser souls amongst us tend to approach these advancements with caution.
That’s not to say that they shun technological advancements.
I’m not talking grandparent-style, there’s-no-way-I’m-getting-a-smartphone-when-I-have-a-perfectly-good-nokia-at-home.
Wise souls just have a tendency to detach from current trends.
They’re unlikely to fall prey to the newest MLM marketing schemes. Or try to convince you that the Earth is flat.
They approach each new craze with caution.
They don’t declare these advancements harmful unless they have factual evidence, but remain astute and vigilant before letting themselves trial the waters for themselves.
2) The meaning of life and the complexities of spirituality
It would perhaps be a little tone-deaf to say that life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to consider the prospect of what happens next.
But questions surrounding the afterlife, religion, reincarnation, karma, and so many other schools of spiritual belief have contributed to many immensely colorful and varied cultures.
Small-minded people tend not to question expansive questions such as the meaning of life or our purpose on earth – both out of fear or knowing (or never knowing) the answers, or because they simply do not care for these topics.
Wise souls prefer otherwise.
Learning about new schools of thought and broadening their understanding of different spiritual beliefs brings them immense joy.
They need not agree with every viewpoint they are exposed to; it’s in the learning and the comparisons that they thrive.
3) The nature of human relationships
Do you need to have friends?
Do you need to get married? Or tie yourself to a partner in some other way?
How much does a certificate mean when two people really love each other?
Can you love someone and lie to them?
What does it even mean to love?
These are the sorts of questions running through the minds of wise, contemplative souls.
A key Buddhist philosophy is that of non-attachment, whereby you relinquish your desire to possess material possessions as well as people.
For wise souls who question life and whether it has any ulterior meaning, this can often lead to reflecting upon the attachments we develop towards other people in our lives.
One of my favorite quotes was written by Christopher McCandless; ‘happiness is only real when shared’.
The intrepid young traveler died of starvation after spending months alone, abandoning the modern world and believing he could find happiness in living in solitude, deep in the wilderness.
Wise old souls will often reflect on contradictions such as these; how in theory, to love is to let go of attachment.
Yet at the same time, the ideal and most fulfilling life is spent sharing happiness with loved ones.
4) The need for material possessions
If your house burned down tomorrow (I pray not), and the thought of losing all of your possessions doesn’t send you spiralling, chances are you aren’t as attached to material possessions as the rest of the modern world.
Capitalism propels us into fast-paced consumerism where status is often based on the labels we wear and the cars we drive.
Yet for the wiser souls amongst us, these superficial goods hold little value.
If they were to lose everything tomorrow, they know that the most important things in life would remain; their integrity, their morals, and their compassion.
Material possessions provide only short-term gratification and are shallow signifiers of worth.
In the grander scheme of things, wise souls know these to be superfluous and unnecessary, so probably aren’t wasting time drooling over the newest model of car or luxury handbag.
5) How the voice in your head isn’t always right
It can be difficult to distinguish your conscience from you.
After all, you spend the most amount of time listening to your stream of consciousness.
Contemplating whether you want toast for breakfast.
Wondering if your partner is holding a grudge against you after you left a heap of dirty socks on the floor.
Whether you’ll ever make it as an astrophysicist/social worker/bakery owner or if you should give up now.
Many of us fall prey to these doubts and niggles and let them consume us.
If it’s in your head, it must surely be right?
Wise souls tend to have finetuned the ability to sift out good and bad thoughts.
Or rather, they know that thoughts are neither good nor bad.
Feelings and emotions rise and fall like tides, and they shouldn’t be allowed to dominate one’s self-worth nor feelings or adequacy.
Experiencing self-doubt is more than normal, but the wiser individuals amongst us are able to sit with those uncomfortable feelings without letting them impede their actions or responses.
Well, what do wise people think?
Wisdom can be defined in so many different ways, it would be impossible to deftly categorize someone as a wise soul.
You can be wise in life experiences and have had your heart broken a few too many times (or broken a few hearts yourself).
You can be world-wizened in having travelled the world, seen many places and met many people.
You can be book smart and have a mind that doubles as an encyclopaedia – everyone’s first choice for a quiz night.
You can just be savvy and intuitive when it comes to trusting your gut and guessing people’s true intentions.
Owing to how expansive and distinctive wisdom can look upon different people, it’s impossible to say for sure what wise people are thinking about regularly.
Whatever their wisdom niche might be, you can be certain that they’re continuing to ask questions, to expand their knowledge, and to stay curious.
After all, curiosity breeds wisdom.