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What the world needs now? More wisdom
Date:4/6/2011

as an impact on how people cope in situations and whether they are more or less satisfied with life," explains Etezadi, a PhD student under Pushkar's direction.

No single definition of wisdom exists, but hallmarks include knowledge, deep understanding of human nature, life contentment, empathy and the flexibility to see issues from others' perspectives. "Wise people can see the positive side of a negative situation," says Etezadi, adding the wise are open to new avenues. "A practical aspect of wisdom is how it translates to street smarts."

Injustice can prevent people from garnering wisdom

Yet studies have shown that overwhelming and prolonged stress, in cases such as genocide or soul-crushing child abuse, are injustices that can prevent people from garnering wisdom. "The more overwhelming the stress, the greater its magnitude, the less likely people are to develop wisdom from the experience," says Pushkar, citing research from peers undertaken after major calamities and wars. "Chronic adversity can destroy wisdom."

Pushkar stresses that wise people often espouse common sense but what makes them smarter than most is how they actually follow their own advice. And contrary to popular notions, gender does not influence wisdom. "For centuries, males had access to education and that's how the stereotype of the wise old man came to be," says Etezadi.

Age is another irrelevant factor in life smarts. "Some people garner wisdom sooner than others," Pushkar suggests. "That's why we call them old souls, since they are quicker to learn what leads to a better life."

Etezadi and Pushkar, who notably studied life contentment among seniors, also discovered that lifelong optimists are wiser than their pessimistic peers. "We found that people who are wiser maintain a sense of happiness," says Etezadi. "They are high on wisdom, which has a buffering effect."

"Bitterness," Pushkar counters, "disqualifies a perso
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
s-j.desjardins@concordia.ca
51-484-824-245-068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert

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