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Aug 21, 2015
I believe that it is important to become a wiser person. I think that experiences are important in life and that to experience more is to live a fuller life. That is why I have always tried to say yes to any experience that has come my way. I am not one to say no to something like skydiving, river rafting, trying new foods, going to strange lands, or trying out new business ventures. I have a heard a good quote that stuck with me recently “Good judgment comes from experience, which often comes from bad judgment.” So in order to have more good judgment, my opinion is that you need to have as many experiences as possible and from that you can gain good judgment.
What I try to show is that travel can open your life to experiences which is absolutely essential to gain wisdom. I have also tried to show that travel is not the only way to obtain wisdom. Since experiences can really be anything, and generally are simply reacting to new things, attaining wisdom can be all around you. All you have to do is put yourself in a new situation like talking to people you wouldn't otherwise talk to, doing things you wouldn't normally do, or going places to places you have never been. You can do all of these things without ever leaving your hometown, all it takes is the adventurer's mindset. By putting yourself in this mindset you can put yourself in learning mode which will allow you to continually get better in what you do.
Doing new things will give you perspective on your life and will help you realize that the way you have been doing things is not necessarily the right way. You can start to see that there are many ways to be successful and even if you continue doing what you were doing before, you become richer through this knowledge. Who would you rather listen to for advice and guidance, someone who had never left their hometown? Or someone who had travelled around the world and had experienced much more. I think the latter is one who could have a more balanced perspective on things and might be able to offer solutions that others implemented in faraway lands.
Of course one of my heroes, Immanuel Kant, never left his home town. He was still able to become a world renowned philosopher who's ideas are respected to this day, especially my favorite idea of the categorical imperative. This basically asks the question that if everybody on earth was doing what you were doing, would it be a good place? This is something I ask myself often whenever I embark on something new. Is it good, is it sustainable, and what will be the benefits of it? Finally, is this something only I can do or would it work if a large amount of people were doing it?
The way that Kant was able to do this is by immersing himself in books. So although he did not travel, he was able to effectively have a one way conversation with someone who may have been alive or dead. This follows the first rule of talking to people you wouldn't otherwise talk to. By having these 'conversations' one can learn more about the world around them and possibly solutions to everyday questions. Remember, a book holds the same information you could get as talking to someone, just more condensed and better organized.
However, just like while travelling, it is important not to listen to only one person. Otherwise you could be led astray by the fallacies of one source. It is when you talk to more people that you get a sense of the options available and what everyone is leaning towards. Especially here in India, I make sure to ask a few people when asking for directions. Everybody tries to be so helpful even if they end up leading you the wrong way.
This leads to the next method of gaining more wisdom, talking to new people. By going out and seeking those people that you normally do not talk to, you can get a different perspective on life, lifestyle, beliefs and more. So if you are a student, or working in a corporate job, get out of your usual circle of friends and explore a bit. Go to the poor part of town and strike up a conversation with someone. It will surely be interesting and even if they don't convince you of another way of looking at things, it will be enlightening. A common community that people ignore is those of immigrants. No matter where you live, there is most likely a neighborhood of a particular group of people from a different region of the world. In this way you do not need to walk more than an hour in order to get the same insights you could get by going across the world. Listening to them and hearing how your town is different from where they are from can be very interesting. Additionally, these people are often very grateful for outside social contact as they can often seclude themselves because of not knowing the language well enough. But if you have patience, and wear a smile, you will make friends and become beloved in that community.
My friends Liz and Veit have started an community in Dresden, Germany where they help out the refuges ending up there. These people often don't speak very good German or English and so are ostracized from the community. Additionally, they have culture shock by moving to a wildly new country. That soft serve ice cream you just bought them might be the first one they have had in their life! A little goes a long way.
Now, you don't necessarily need to dedicate your life to service nor may you have a large refugee population like Dresden. However, people from another country exist in every city larger than maybe 10,000 people. By finding them, and learning from them, you can experience their country by proxy. It can also be a good push to visit their country and learn even more. Who know? You could fall in love with an aspect of their culture and it could change your life for the better! But my opinion is that actually visiting the country is better, but this is very similar.
Next is to do things that you normally wouldn't do. This could include simply going to events or activities that you have never tried and keeping an open mind. My gf recently took me to a salsa dancing club and although we practiced, I wasn't very good and didn't find it as fun as she did. However, I am grateful for the experience because it made my life richer and now I know a bit more about myself. I would recommend trying out any type of event such as a music festival, convention, meetup, house party, celebration, or anything else. You could end up liking it and become a regular, or realize that you don't like it and not do it regularly. Either way, you learned something and became a fuller human.
It can also be as adrenaline filled as skydiving or paragliding. I have tried both and absolutely recommend them to anyone! I actually hope to work on a paragliding license so I can fly on my own someday. It was such a fun experience, well worth the $60 for the 5 hour session. When you spend your money on experiences instead of things, you learn a bit about yourself and know what your limits and capabilities are. I now feel more confident in things that I do because I was able to fly a parachute on my own after only a few hours of training.
Of course when you are travelling there are more options for these kinds of activities. Your town may not have opportunities to do scuba diving, hiking, or river rafting but it usually has at least something. That is why it is easy to opportunistically take part in many new things while travelling. Especially to do the things that are not an option where you're from. That is why I always try to do new and exotic activities or events while I am travelling even if they may be expensive.
The final way to gain more wisdom even while at home is to go to new places. Even if you have lived in a town for many years, there are likely many roads and parts of town that you do not normally visit. This partially goes back to meeting people you wouldn't talk to because doing that may lead you somewhere you have never been. This can be really good for freshening up the weekly routine and can put you in an adventurer's mindset. I'm not sure that you will necessarily learn anything new by walking down a street you have never seen, but I think it will set you up for enjoying new experiences. This tip I guess is more of a building block kind of thing in order to get used to novelty.
So, gaining new experiences and wisdom is not only limited to travel but it certainly helps speed things up. If you are in the right mindset, and talk to new people / read new books, do novel activities, and go new places, you can speed up the wisdom that you accumulate.
Remember, wisdom is just the accumulation of experiences so that you can have better judgment. So what are you doing this week to have more new experiences?
Special thanks to Edward Meyer who left an iTunes review saying “One of my favorite podcasts, thanks so much for the information presented in a pleasant and easy listening style. Always love it.” Thank so much Edward and I hope that I can continue to exceed your expectations until I am your favorite podcast! :P