People say wisdom comes with age. Let’s explore that.

The logic of this sentiment seems to be that, with age, one has had more experiences in life, which have garnered insight into how to most skillfully navigate life. I can get on board with that. However, I know many people in older age, who have had many experiences, who lack what people would consider “wisdom.” Conversely, I know many people in younger age, who have had far fewer experiences, whom others would consider “wise.” So what’s that about?

Maybe it’s not experience, per say, but how one pays attention to experience that is important. If we go through life on automatic pilot, chances are we’re going to learn very little from our experiences. On the other hand, if we show up for each moment as a student, observing with curiosity, openness, and presence, one moment can garner endless insights and learnings.

In my mind, one formula could be:

Experience x Attention = Wisdom

There are different forms of wisdom, so this could be open to debate. Things like raw intelligence, raw compassion, openness to change, moral capacity could all arguably play a role. But I would still argue that if you take someone, regardless of their baseline of wisdom and set skills, and apply this formula, their wisdom will improve.

Of course, we haven’t fully defined what wisdom is here, which we’ll have to save for another post, since that could be lengthy. And it’s also subjective. This might play more into a Buddhist perspective of wisdom where one has understood the nature of their experience and gradually freed themselves from it. So take from this what you will, and take it with a grain of salt.