We all want to be wise, but wisdom isn’t something that can be easily faked.
It’s not just about saying clever things or quoting famous philosophers. Neither is it something that can be obtained through a quick Google search or a weekend retreat.
What does it really mean to be wise, then? Is it something that can be learned, or is it an innate quality that some people just have?
Well, to me, true wisdom is a combination of traits that are deeply ingrained in one’s personality. In this article, I’ll discuss 10 traits of wise people that can’t be faked.
1) They’re in tune with their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
Let’s face it: we all have our moments of confusion, uncertainty, and self-doubt.
But wise people seem to have a certain clarity and self-assurance that sets them apart from the rest of us. So what’s their secret?
It all starts with self-awareness.
Yes, believe it or not, self-awareness is the foundation of wisdom. It involves being in tune with your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Wise people have a deep understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. They are able to recognize when they’re feeling off-balance or out of alignment.
As a result, wise people have great strategies to avoid cognitive dissonance and realign themselves with what truly matters to them.
Regular people like me, on the other hand, do experience cognitive dissonance and feel like they have two pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit together. Of course, this leads to a sense of discomfort.
2) They can feel what others feel
If you know someone who can perceive your emotions without you having to explain them, chances are that they possess wisdom.
Wisdom comes with empathy — a common trait among wise people.
Now you might be a bit confused, wondering how empathy can be related to intelligence.
Well, empathy is an integral element of emotional intelligence. In fact, studies show that empathetic behavior is usually linked to high emotional intelligence (EQ).
But what exactly is emotional intelligence, you might ask?
It’s the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, while also being able to perceive and respond to the emotions of others.
So, here’s the thing:
Wise people don’t just have high cognitive intelligence, but they also possess a high degree of emotional intelligence.
This makes them better able to navigate interpersonal relationships and handle difficult situations with understanding.
3) They’re open to new ideas and perspectives
Ever found yourself stubbornly clinging to a belief or idea, despite evidence to the contrary?
It’s not an uncommon experience. We all have our biases, which can be difficult to let go of.
But wise people have a certain level of openness that allows them to consider new ideas without automatically dismissing them.
They’re willing to challenge their own beliefs and assumptions, and they’re not afraid to admit when they’re wrong.
When I think of examples of wise people who used their open-mindedness to make a difference, Nelson Mandela comes to mind.
Mandela’s willingness to listen to and understand the perspectives of those who opposed him was a key factor in his success in ending apartheid in South Africa.
He recognized that success was only possible if he would consider the perspectives of all South Africans, not just those who agreed with him.
But of course, you don’t have to be Nelson Mandela to use your intelligence to make a positive impact in your own life. You just need to be open to new ideas and perspectives.
4) They can zoom out and see the bigger picture
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information and distractions, it can be difficult to take the time to step back and reflect.
Still, wise people indeed have a natural ability to zoom out. They are able to think beyond their immediate concerns and emotions and reach far beyond the present moment.
How do they do so?
They look inward and examine their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. That’s the strategy we call introspection in psychology. And this strategy is almost the same as self-reflection.
Regardless of what we call it, one thing is for sure — reflecting on our own thoughts and emotions can ultimately help us see things in a bigger context.
And seeing things in a bigger context is what separates wise people from average individuals.
5) They consistently act in accordance with their values
Did you know that wise people have a strong sense of ethics and integrity?
The truth is that they consistently act according to their values. And that’s exactly the key trait that gives us the feeling that these people stand out from regular people out there.
They have a clear understanding of what they believe and stand for. Most importantly, they make decisions and take actions that align with those beliefs.
Sounds impressive, right?
Still, this doesn’t mean that wise people always make the right decision or never make mistakes.
The thing is that when they do make a mistake, they’re quick to recognize it and take responsibility for their actions. Even if it means admitting they were wrong.
In simple words, wise people act following their core values. They are true to themselves and others.
6) They can adapt to changing circumstances and navigate uncertainty
Although wise people consistently act in accordance with their values, they don’t stick to their core values in all situations.
The thing is that being too rigid in one’s thinking and approach can lead to difficulties in navigating uncertain situations. But there are plenty of uncertain situations in everyone’s lives, right?
So, let’s admit that the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and navigate uncertainty is a key sign of wisdom.
Yes, wise people do know that life is unpredictable and that circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. They understand that sometimes, sticking rigidly to one’s values can be counterproductive and even harmful.
7) Their decisions are guided by their purpose in life
Have you ever heard the phrase, “live with purpose“?
If you’re like most of us, chances are that you’re either looking for your purpose in life or have already found it.
While wise people make decisions guided by their purpose in life, surprisingly, being wise isn’t about having or not having a purpose in life.
Instead, their decisions are in line with their purpose. They have a sense of direction and are guided by a higher meaning or purpose.
What is that purpose?
It can be something as simple as being a good parent, contributing to society, or pursuing a passion. In either case, this gives them a sense of fulfillment and a reason to wake up in the morning.
8) They can recognize their own flaws and shortcomings
Another thing that separates wise people from the rest of us is that they don’t see their flaws as a weakness.
Instead, they think that having flaws is an opportunity for growth and self-improvement.
Let’s admit it: none of us are perfect, right? Still, most of the time, we strive for perfection.
But wise people understand that perfection is an unattainable goal. However, embrace their flaws as part of their unique identity and use them as a way to learn and grow.
One way for this is to actively seek feedback from others. But also, you can ask yourself questions like:
- What do I struggle with the most?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What are some situations where I’ve acted in a way that doesn’t align with my values or purpose?
Reflecting on these questions is the first step toward becoming a self-aware, and therefore, wiser, individual.
9) They have a strong sense of self
How do you perceive yourself? Do you know what your key traits and characteristics are, and what defines you as a person?
Well, if you’re looking for traits of wise people to understand whether you’re among them, I doubt you have a clear sense of self.
Don’t be afraid – it doesn’t indicate anything negative about you. But it does suggest that you may want to work on developing a stronger sense of self.
The truth is that having a strong sense of self is an essential trait of wise people.
When you have a strong sense of self, you’re not easily swayed by others’ opinions or expectations of you. You’re confident in your own skin and comfortable in your own company.
You don’t feel the need to conform to societal norms or trends just to fit in or be accepted. Instead, you stay true to your authentic self and pursue your own path in life.
So, guess what?
This might be the answer you’re looking for — people who don’t know the traits of wise people aren’t that wise themselves yet. But remember that the first step towards becoming wiser is asking questions.
10) They are lifelong learners
And the final trait of wise people is that they are lifelong learners who recognize that there is always more to learn and discover.
They never stop seeking knowledge, whether it’s through formal education, personal experiences, or simply talking to others and listening to their perspectives.
The thing I admire the most in wise individuals is that they understand that the world is constantly changing. They know that staying stagnant can be detrimental.
Still, just exploring new things isn’t enough to be wise. It’s also about the attitude of humility and curiosity that comes with it.
Now you know all the important traits that make wise people stand out and embrace life.
Whether you’re among them or not, you need to know one thing — the journey toward wisdom is not a destination, but a lifelong pursuit. And the more you learn and grow, the more you will understand about it.
So, seek out new experiences, challenge your beliefs and biases, and be open to new ideas and perspectives. That’s how you can become a wise person.