Are You Wiser Today Than You Were Yesterday?
By Michael Josephson
Do you think you're any wiser today than you were five years ago?
Do you think you'll be wiser still in another five years?
I hope the answer to both questions is an emphatic "yes."
One of the benefits of growing older is getting better. And we get better by learning.
I'm not just talking about new facts, like how a volcanic eruption in Iceland can prevent airline traffic in most of Europe.
I'm talking about learning basic nuggets of wisdom that can change our lives.
For starters, I've learned that as long as I'm willing to learn, I can learn, and the fact that I'm wiser today doesn't mean I was foolish or incompetent before.
I've learned that you don't have to be sick to get better.
I've learned that no matter how old I am, my life and character are works in process and that there will always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be.
I've learned that it's easy to mask moral compromises with rationalizations and that my character is revealed not by my words or intentions but by my willingness to do the right thing even when it costs more than I want to pay.
I've learned that my character is more important than my competence and that being significant is more important than being successful.
I've learned that I often judge myself by my good intentions but that I'll be judged by my last worst act.
I've learned that the surest road to happiness is good relationships and that striving to be a good person is the surest road to good relationships.
Finally, I've learned that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional and that it's not what happens to me that matters most but what happens in me.