According to psychologists, we go through various stages of life from birth to death. Rich or poor, whatever our ethnicities, religions or culture, we share this passage through distinct phases of life. And the years after 60 or so are considered the years of giving back.

During this holiday season, when giving is the theme, what better gift to offer to those we love than the wisdom we’ve garnered through the decades of our lives?

How Do We Define Wisdom?

But for so many of us, the question is, “What wisdom?” Oh, sure, you know not to run across the street without looking both ways, but heck, you knew that at seven years old. Or, you know enough to stay away from overly charming individuals who promise you wealth, everlasting love and/or fame for the mere price of your life savings, but you probably learned that one somewhere in your 20s or 30s. Granted, it was most likely learned the hard way; nonetheless, you got it.

 
 

So again, “What wisdom?” you ask. What could you have to offer but a bunch of platitudes that no young person would sit still to listen to?

There are a number of qualities that contribute to a productive workplace, which to my way of thinking, are also the very qualities that constitute the “life-wisdom” we acquire over time. This is well worth passing on. Here’s how.

Aspects of Life-Wisdom

The first aspect of life-wisdom is caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for others. It’s not enough to meet your friends for a weekly yoga session or bridge game. An hour or two together, and off you go. As pleasant as such an interaction is, socially speaking, wisdom goes beyond that.

Wisdom is caring for your friends, being interested in them and their lives, and maintaining some degree of responsibility for them. This is not doing for them, but supporting their hopes and dreams and encouraging them when they are in doubt or fearful. It’s being empathic when others are going through rough times.

Second, life-wisdom involves avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes. It’s walking in another’s shoes to come from a place of understanding rather than judgment. When we’re young, we’re so quick to judge others, to assign blame. As we experience more of life, we get the opportunity to see that there are usually two or more sides to every situation, and with that knowledge our ability to forgive and to be compassionate grows.

The third aspect is our greater willingness to treat one another with respect, gratitude, trust and integrity. Life-wisdom is recognizing that we are all simply doing the best we can in the moment, no matter how inspired or misguided. With that, we accord respect, gratitude and trust unless and until it becomes clear that our trust, in particular, is misguided. We behave with integrity because we’ve discovered we prefer waking up in the morning and liking the person we see in the mirror.

Lastly, life-wisdom is recognizing that life is meaningful, purposeful and the ultimate gift. When we are young, we take life totally for granted. We are too busy discovering ourselves and the world around us to stop and recognize the staggering magnificence of life itself.

But as we pass the cap of 60 and more, with the benefit of hindsight, we can take the time to reflect on just how glorious it all is. We have had sufficient experience to know that despite the challenges, hurdles and struggle, there have been moments of sheer unadulterated bliss.

That is the wisdom we get to share. Not necessarily in flowery speeches that no young person would want to listen to, but with an appreciative look, a compliment, a word or two of praise. And above all, with a smile that says, “Ain’t life grand! And you along with it.”

What are some aspects of life-wisdom you have gained over the years? How have you shared this life-wisdom with others? Have you found certain approaches that make people more receptive to hearing the wisdom you have to share? We invite you to join in the conversation.

Noelle NelsonDr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website or go to Meet the Amazings, her Facebook page.

Let's Have a Conversation!