Wisdom Is Just Thinking Before You Act

Wisdom Is Just Thinking Before You Act

Heraclitus of Ephesus was a Greek philosopher sometimes known as “The Obscure” or the “Weeping Philosopher” who lived from around 535 BC to 475 BC. He suggests that wisdom is easier to achieve than you may think…

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“For to be wise is only one thing — to fix our attention on our intelligence, which guides all things everywhere.”

– Heraclitus of ephesus, Lives of the eminent philosophers, 9.1

What It Means

What Heraclitus is saying here is quite simple: If you want to be wise, listen to the reasonable and intelligent parts of your mind, not the emotional, animal parts. For it is intelligence and reason that governs our universe and guides us along the best path, not our impulses.

What to Take From It

“Oh, how did you get to be so wise?” one might ask a wise man, and they’d say wisdom isn’t a superpower bestowed upon the fortunate.

Again, the takeaway here is simple: Avoid doing things or saying things until you’ve taken some time to think about them. Will your action benefit you or others in some way? Are your words worth being heard, or are they empty syllables drowning out other voices of reason? What will the repercussions be? Are you willing to take on the consequences?

Wisdom often comes with experience, yes, but most of said experience teaches you to avoid things you may have been able to avoid in the first place. You don’t have to make mistakes in order to learn how to avoid them. If you want to be wise, stop, listen to your thoughts, and deliberate before carrying on. Not every minutia of daily life may require such deliberation – there’s no need to draft a pros and cons list for everything – but thinking and listening to reason before acting will rarely harm you in the long run. Wisdom is there for the taking, friends. Choose to take it.

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