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R. D. Holland


7 Ways to Foster Wisdom

Why wisdom? We all know that dummies can make mistakes, but all too often smart people make mistakes too, disastrous ones. Bad money deals, unhealthy relationships, self-defeating actions, these plague both the intelligent and the witless. This is where wisdom is needed. If you want to make fewer mistakes when it matters wisdom is needed.

    1. Listen to wisdom

    One way of gaining wisdom, and more importantly, recognizing wisdom, is to listen to the wise. Immerse yourself in solid philosophical materials. Listen to speeches given by great people, people with heart. I like to listen to Jack Kornfield, Alan Watts, and even Eckhart Tolle. People like Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday like to read the works of the stoics. I think that's a good idea.

    2. Listen to all of your neurons

    The brain isn't the only place where neurons reside. There are also Neurons in the gut and the heart. Those neurons aren't just sitting around doing nothing. We need to pay attention to the signals coming from these areas, especially those coming from the gut.

    There are 86 billion neurons in the brain, 500 million in the gut, and 40,000 in the heart. 40,000 sounds like a small change but let me give you an idea of what those neurons can do. Back in 2004 biomedical engineers created an array of 25,000 rat neurons which they hooked up to an F-22 fighter jet simulator. The network taught itself to fly the plane in the simulator with no help besides the feedback it received from the simulator itself. Neurons are like magic, they can learn and adapt to almost anything. For another example of how neurons are amazing look up Sensory Substitution and the work of Paul Bach-y-Rita.

    The gut affects the brain in a variety of ways which I discuss in the next section. It helps regulate your mood and helps you navigate social situations. Heart neurons send feedback to the brain and influence your emotions. It's time we start to acknowledge that the brain isn't the only player in town.

    3. Feed your gut

    The brain and Gut are connected through the vagus nerve. The gut microbiome produces chemicals that affect how the brain works. Gut microbes also affect the functioning of the immune system and inflammation. Gut bacteria affect brain health, so feeding your gut good stuff is helpful to the brain and can improve your decision-making.

    Omega-3 fats (fish oil), Fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut) High fiber foods (whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables), and Polyphenol-rich foods (cocoa, green tea, olive oil, coffee) all help gut health.

    4. Know when you're going wrong

    Must be aware of your general internal state. Decisions made when you're all screwed up are often not the best. One of the easiest ways to see if your going wrong is to listen to your self-talk. Are you repeating words like "stupid" or cursing all the time? If so, then you may be going wrong. Time to take a step back, meditate, take some CBD or whatever cannabinoids you find helpful to you. Another way to see if you are going wrong in real-time is to stop and pay attention to your breath. Is it constricted and high up in your chest? If so you aren't in your ideal state.

    5. Keep wise habits and rituals

    This is one I am constantly struggling with. Wise habits help you to stay in your ideal state so that you can make wise decisions. These include getting lots of sleep, eating nutritious foods, monitoring your alcohol intake, and getting exercise. Another good habit is keeping work and life separated so that you aren't constantly thinking about work. Having a ritual of cleaning your desk and/or taking a walk after work will help you tell your mind and body that work is over, and it's time for living. Studies suggest that even the ritual of making the bed in the morning makes you more productive during the day.

    6. Keep an eye on your media consumption

    It's a good idea to be aware of watch you are reading and what you are watching. I'm not going to glibly say "Garbage in, garbage out," and I'm not here to preach, but remember that you're a human being. If you're watching other humans being dismembered all day long, it's going to affect you (unless you're a complete psycho). It'll make you more agitated than you would normally be, which will color your decisions. Studies also suggest that violent media does in fact lead to more real-world violence.

    7. Read "Skip the Line" by James Altucher

    I know it seems like I'm being a wise-guy here but this is maybe the wisest business book I have ever read. So many books in this genre are all, "Rah-Rah Go Get Yours!" And yes, this book is about asserting yourself to succeed, but it also focuses on listening to your heart and your gut. This book is about being true to yourself more than anything else, and that is real wisdom.

    8. References

    violent media and real-world violence

    25,000 rat neurons can fly a jet simulator.

    gut-brain connection

    seeing with your tongue - sensory substitution device

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