Tag Archive | Wisdom


Two things in life make you feel alive: Growing and Giving. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are life-games?”

“I think of my life as a game. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; short read]. It’s a modular game made up of a myriad interlocking pieces – each piece a game. 

I call the Beautiful Game and the games that make it up, life-games.”

“What are the most important life-games?”

Growing and Giving.

The Beautiful Game is made up of two big games: The Inner Game and The Outer Game. The Inner Game is the Game of Growing; The Outer Game is the Game of Giving.

The Game of Growing is the game of becoming the best you can possibly be. It is made up of two games: The Game of Wisdom and The Game of Mastery.

The Game of Giving is the game of using your Gifts in greatest service to the world, of being an exceptional value provider – the highest expression of Love. Another name for it is The Game of Contribution.

All these are daily games. In their compounded effect, they shape the well-lived life.”

Daily subtraction

To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day. (Lao Tzu)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What if you turned subtraction into an actual daily practice?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Additive thinking is our default. It’s effortless. Subtractive thinking however does not happen unless intentionally activated. It takes effort because it triggers a feeling of loss.

To do it consistently, you need to have Simplicity as a primary value. This is the first step.

The next step is to actually ask yourself subtractive questions every day:

What can you eliminate?

What if you eliminated x?

Operationalizing Knowledge

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I failed again.”

“Was it for lack of knowledge?”

“I did have the knowledge. But I didn’t have it available when I needed it.”

“This illustrates an essential aspect of Wisdom:

It’s not enough to have knowledge. You must also be able to access it when the situation calls for it – especially when conditions are less than ideal. (Antifragility)”

“How do you do that?”

“All practical knowledge requires practice.

Practice forwards. Every time you access the right knowledge at the right moment is a rep[etition].

Practice backwards. Every time you access the right knowledge in the past is also a rep – ‘In that moment I could have done x’.

Do this over and over and over again, in different contexts and under various conditions, until you internalize it.

I call this practice Operationalizing Knowledge.”

On Wisdom 3

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is your Central Value?”


I’ve been reflecting on it lately, to gain clarity on it. And, as it usually happens, I ended up refining the model.”

“What does the latest iteration look like?”

“Like this:

My model of Wisdom

As I see it, Wisdom has two components: Values and Principles.

It’s a matter of having Values, gaining Clarity on what they are – we might think of this as the blueprint.

It’s a matter of living in Integrity with those Values.”

“What’s the use of Principles? Can’t you just think of them as Values?”

Wisdom is a practice.

Principles isolate specific aspects of the practice.”

On Wisdom 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the structure of the Wisdom system of meaning?”

“There are many ways to think of it. My current view is modeled after the main branches of Philosophy.”

“What are the main branches of Philosophy?”

“They are:

Metaphysics: studies the nature of reality
Epistemology: studies the nature and scope of knowledge
Value Theory
Ethics: studies and evaluates human conduct
Aesthetics: studies the nature of beauty

Based on these, the Wisdom system has a metaphysical, epistemological and ethical component. For me, it also has an aesthetic component.

Metaphysical component: has to do with our fundamental assumptions, our model of reality
Epistemological component: has to do with Knowledge, of the world and ourselves, and of the limits of Knowledge
Ethical component: has to do with Values and Virtues, and how to live the good life
Aesthetical component: has to do with Beauty, how to create and appreciate it

I like to think of Wisdom as a Life-Game – and an aspect of the Beautiful Game [<link; medium length]. Another component of the system are the principles that capture the essence of the Game.”

“What are those principles?”

“I’ve identified three so far:

Inversion (or Transmutation, to use a different metaphoric-model): the art/game [<link; short] of turning obstacles upside down, negatives into positives, weaknesses into strengths

Transfer (Thematic Interconnectedness, to use Josh Waitzkin’s terminology): the art/game of using knowledge from one area of life into another

Quality (can be viewed in aesthetic terms, as Beauty): the art/game of making the most of everything that comes your way, always doing your best, of always focusing on quality over quantity

Visually, the Wisdom system looks something like this:

The Wisdom system of meaning

On Wisdom

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The four virtues of Stoicism (in Brian Johnson’s interpretation) are:


The four virtues of Buddhism (which I also learned from Brian) are:

Loving Kindness

Interestingly, Wisdom is not among them.”

“What is Wisdom?”

“It’s one of those things that seem obvious. You think you have a firm grasp of them, but once you take a closer look, they start to slip through your fingers like sand. I call these, slippery concepts.”

“What do you mean by it?

Let’s take the virtues of Stoicism and those of Buddhism as reference points.

Where does Wisdom stand in relation to those virtues?”

“In my view, Wisdom is not a virtue, but all virtues.

Wisdom is a system of meaning.

Visually, it looks something like this:

A small part of the Wisdom system of meaning

On Knowledge

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the highest end of knowledge acquisition?”

Turning passive-knowledge into active-knowledge.
Making knowledge useful by making it usable, and by actually using it.

On age and wisdom

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Age brings wisdom.”

Age brings experience, not wisdom.

To discover wisdom you have to actively look for it.

Discovered wisdom is reflected in your actions.

Lover of Wisdom 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“When dealing with such a complex topic, how do you approach it?”

I start by saying to myself ‘I don’t know‘.

“But you do know quite a lot about it.”

“The point of it is to ’empty my cup’, to remind myself of the limits of my knowledge, and to approach it from a position of (epistemic) humility.”

Beautiful Habits: Appreciating Ideas

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I love ideas.

“You mean some ideas?”

“I mean ideas as a unit of meaning, as the building-blocks of thought, and as creative fuel. In this general sense, I find ideas beautiful.

It’s true, I am very selective about ideas. I think filtering ideas is an important component of Wisdom. In this particular sense, I find particular ideas beautiful, and among these, some particularly beautiful.”

“You’re much more focused than you used to be.”

“I guess I am. I used to spread myself in so many directions. I’m now interested mostly in ideas that have practical application for the Art of (Playful) Living.

As with so many things in our life, we tend to take ideas for granted. I’ve decided to change that.

I’ve made it a Practice to express gratitude for every beautiful idea in my life.

Every time I read a quote for instance, I express gratitude for the idea, and to the author for the beautiful gift.