Why The Pursuit of Wisdom Is the Only Thing You Should Chase in Life


And three philosophical laws that reveal what wisdom is.

Photo by Todd Steitle on Unsplash

Drugs, sex, cocaine, gambling, porn, prostitutes, money, fame.

These are all the wrong things to chase in life. Instead, the original pursuit should sustain us. What is this original pursuit you may ask? It’s the endless and unattainable pursuit of wisdom.

This is a chase for knowledge that can transcend beyond what you are capable of knowing and understanding. This ancient philosophical pursuit originated in Ancient Greece with the invention of philosophy itself, which means “love of wisdom”.

I’d like to consider myself a wisdom chaser, I love to read books, reflect on my days, learn about philosophy, and contemplate my role within the universe. You could say this is a pursuit of wisdom, rather than a hopeless chase of damaging hedonistic desires.

Attaining wisdom is the highest pursual of human nature. Wisdom for me is knowledge in an incorruptible form. This is the knowledge that carries applicable meaning to your life that is transcendent beyond time, place, or the century you live in.

Wisdom may seem like an outdated mystical state of enlightenment that is out of reach to a regular person. It is fair to say that wisdom is slowly becoming less valued in our modern technological culture, where we rely on technological advancements to give us the knowledge we need.

Wisdom is a different type of knowledge though, and this is why you should chase it like a donkey.

Law #1: Expand Your Horizons Beyond What You Think Is Capable

Image from tastessightsounds.com

You may be asking yourself what sort of wisdom can be chased, so it’s probably best to define what wisdom can come in the form of.

Wisdom can be any type of knowledge that gives you a greater sense of peace, fulfillment, or happiness. When you learn about different ideas, you are attaining wisdom. Immersing yourself in philosophy is a type of wisdom chasing. Or learning about anything that makes you think about reality differently in a way that positively impacts you is also attaining wisdom.

This is where the first law of wisdom comes in. You need to expand your horizons. This is important when seeking wisdom because boundaries are what restrict your knowledge. Society tries to set a man-made barrier to what you can know, otherwise known as the bare minimum.

The truly wise people understand that wisdom isn't around them in their comfortable homes, it’s beyond the horizon.

Living in comfort, choosing not to grow, and ignoring the possibility for change, is the recipe for breeding a simple-minded person. As Seneca said, we must understand that there is more to gain, something beyond what we are familiar with.

“Look at the stars lighting up in the sky, not one of them stays in the same place.” — Seneca

Just like the stars, we should move around in life as free as the wind. This can quite literally be as simple as travel. Traveling the world is one of the most effective ways to build and chase wisdom because you are learning about things that your culture has no clue about, you are shown new ways of life.

As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “The great affair is to move”. Refusing to stay in one place for the rest of your life is a chase of wisdom. This is because never having a destination is a journey of new life lessons.

Next time you look up at the sky on a clear and sunny day, try to imagine what is beyond the horizon for you specifically. Think about what more can be added to your life, is there something missing? You probably won't be able to pinpoint anything in particular, but the feeling that there is something more to your current state should send you into a blissful pursual of endless knowledge.

Wisdom is mental power. Fortitude starts in the mind, everything else will follow.

Law #2: Wisdom Comes From the Mental Power To Be Kind and Compassionate

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Dalai Lama

Compassion and kindness are qualities that the wise pertain. You will rarely find a person who lacks wisdom and the capacity to reflect upon themselves and the knowledge of the universe to show genuine compassion to others.

“Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” — Greater Good Magazine

I'm pretty sure you weren't expecting me to talk about compassion and kindness in an article about wisdom, but these qualities are rooted within each other.

Let’s look at the definition of compassion above. So compassion means to want to relieve someone's suffering so that their reality and existence can become more bearable and happy. To even want to do this in the first place is a huge sign of wisdom.

Actions like this that are truly compassionate are only done by strong people, and strength starts in the mind. There is perhaps no one stronger in the mind than those who have fortified themselves with wisdom. A wise mind is a strong mind because wisdom tells you everything you need to know about yourself and where you are in life.

True kindness requires a deep understanding of other people and an awareness of the bigger universal picture

When you are in this headspace you gain a clearer understanding of the world around you, but also about how the humans around you work on an emotional basis. True kindness requires a deep understanding of other people and an awareness of the bigger universal picture.

Again, the things I just stated above can only be gained through acquiring wisdom, which should be chased with a ferocious passion. The ultimate test of a strong and fortified mind is to be kind to those who don't deserve it. When you can do this and put aside the innate bitterness we all feel, you are truly wise.

Law #3: The Wise Treat Themselves With Sacred Value

Sandro Botticelli: The Birth of Venus, ca. 1486Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Finally, another reason why chasing wisdom should be so high on your priority list is because of the value it can add to how you see the world around you on a daily basis.

The truth is that there are many damaging pleasures and desires that try and sway us away from attaining wisdom on a daily basis, these hedonistic pleasures fog up how you see the world.

When we have a clear and sober mind, it sets us up to view the world through a lens that appreciates all the little things, like the wind blowing the blades of grass, or the birds gracefully soaring through the sky. Do you want to know how this is done?

It’s done through observation. The wise don't talk so much, they listen and watch. And it is through this that we can gain a clearer picture of who we are, where we are, why we are here, and our own unique worldview.

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”
Maurice Switzer

Observation has historically been a quality of the wisest and influential figures. Leonardo Da Vinci for example, a social rebel, a polymath, an anatomist, an engineer, an architect, and that which he referred to himself the least as; an artist, was the pinnacle of showing how observation cultivates wisdom

What made Leonardo so great was that he observed every little possible detail around him with meticulous precision. Obviously, we don't have to be that meticulous, but it reinforces the ancient teaching from Epictetus 1,500 years prior that emphasized how we should be ‘students of life’, learning and gaining wisdom from the observations of life around us.

Leonardo treated the world as his teacher, his observation was his desire to learn.

Observation is the portal to gaining exclusive wisdom about the universal truths others are blind to see.

Final Words

We are often told throughout our lives that we shouldn't chase anything in life, be it an unrealistic career path, girls or men, or chasing a high that will never be the same.

The only things we are told to chase in life are our dreams, but even this half-hearted saying isn't true to its core. We are often discouraged to chase our dreams even by the people closest to us.

Wisdom though, what about wisdom? Why are we treating this quench for knowledge like a mystical 18th-century endeavor that holds no place in secular society? If anything, the technological advancements have stolen our attention to focus on what matters.

And that is the pursuit of wisdom. Wisdom is the one thing that should be chased until the day that you die. This pursuit always has the capacity to transform everything around you, all it takes is one powerful idea to be applied.

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I am an entrepreneur from London with a passion for reading and writing about self-improvement, productivity, fitness, history, philosophy, and happiness.


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