07/28/2014 10:50 am ET Updated Sep 27, 2014

Shocking News About Wisdom

There's some important news to share. I've been blogging recently on my personal philosophy website,, about the value and power of wisdom. And, because of something that's pretty astonishing in recent science news, I wanted to highlight an important side of how we can best gain wisdom, a way of getting more of it into our lives.

Wisdom doesn't just come from sitting and thinking. And that's a good thing, because few people seem to want to do that now. Even the fact that you're quietly reading this blog post makes you a pretty remarkable person. In fact, the prestigious journal Science recently reported an experiment where people were given the choice to either sit quietly and ponder their lives, or else administer electric shocks to themselves, and a surprising (I should say shocking) 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women chose the voltage. Pain over pondering. Sit and ponder that for a moment. And, please, especially if you're a guy, fight off any urges to go stick your finger in a socket instead.

I'm not kidding. This is a problem. But, fortunately, to gain wisdom, you don't have to turn off the phone, put down the pad, and just sit alone and meditate on your life.

Wisdom is embodied insight about living, a form of deep, practical knowledge that will guide our paths in good times and bad. If we keep our eyes wide open, if we truly pay attention, and ponder a bit what comes our way, as we're out and about in the world, we can accumulate a bit of wisdom almost every day. And especially on those days when we share a thought, a musing, a perplexity, or a question of wonderment with a friend. And here's the good news.

We often have our deepest insights in conversation with others. That's the way we're made. We're intended to share this journey of life together with fellow travelers. We're meant to learn from each other and with each other. So make it a point today or tomorrow to ask someone a question about something that really matters to you. Listen carefully to the answer. And then share your own thoughts. You may find yourself with a new insight, a new angle on an old insight, a bit of wisdom that will light your path, a possession of the heart that costs nothing and yet may pay great dividends for the future.

Any day that you've accumulated a new piece of wisdom is a successful day, the most certain support there can be for a truly successful life.