The wisdom model measures development by the accuracy of our beliefs. It measures development by our level of wisdom. We grow from our life experiences by gaining wisdom. But how does this take place?
Firstly, what is a life experience? Some people might think life experiences are things like going to school, getting a job, getting married, having a baby etc. They might neglect to include things like hearing a car drive past, smelling the air, seeing a stranger walk past, feeling the coldness of an ice cube, feeling a headache or a sore throat, noticing someone smile. And yet these are all examples of life experiences from which growth can take place.
They say we grow from our life experiences. Let’s pick an example. Say, you are walking down the road, and you see a tree. This is the life experience. But how do you see the tree? Do your eyeballs go over and hit the tree? Of course not. You can see the tree because the light rays hit the tree, refract, and make their way to the retina in your eyes. From here, an electrical signal is fired along the optic nerve towards the visual cortex in the back of the brain. It is here the data is assessed as to what it represents, and because you have been taught that this information represents a tree, your mind holds the belief that “oh there’s a tree”. This explanation is important because it shows us that any life experience is really a process of receiving data from our environment. We get hit by light rays, sound waves, and pick up information from our senses on our skin. We receive a constant stream of data from our environment, and as this data is continuously assessed by our brain, we slowly grow in understanding life. We do not control our personal development – LIFE DEVELOPS US!
Many people are so wrapped up in believing they are the centre of the universe and must control everything about their life that they might easily neglect to acknowledge that the process of having life experiences is not a process of “I control” but is actually a process of data from our environment being forced upon us, whether we like it or not. Let’s go back to the example of seeing a tree. To say that you see the tree because your eyes pick up on the tree and your brain interprets this information might sound like a good explanation about the process. But actually that statement only includes half of the process by which you see the tree. The other half of the process is outside of your own existence. The process doesn’t start at your eyes, it starts at the light hitting the tree. The fact that the light refracts upon hitting the tree defines that outside your own existence, things exist – there is a reality. This understanding is important in order to move from “I am in control of life” to “I am being developed by life”. Is clapping your hands together an example of you being in control of life? Or an example of a progression of activity in the universe which was always going to take place due to everything which influenced you to make the decision to clap? Are you in control of the universe? Or are you a product of the universe?
It is important to note that the philosophy “We grow from our life experiences by receiving data from our environment” is quite the opposite to the very common philosophy “you already have the answers within you – you must go within yourself and reconnect”. If you already know everything, what value could there possibly be in going through unwanted (or traumatic) life events? The only way to find value in such events is to understand they are teaching you lessons about life. But of course, there is much to learn from examining the activity going on within our own body and mind as well as our environment.