The more you know, the less you realize you know.
I heard Joyce Meyer, a nationally known Christian author and public speaker, say recently that she was increasingly convinced that, “Nobody knows anything until they’re 40 years old.” Catching my attention, she went on to add, “That’s because when you reach 40, you begin to realize something — that you really don’t know anything! And this is the first sign of real intelligence.”
I got a good laugh out of that statement, especially when you realize there’s often important truth buried in a light-hearted joke like that, and this was no exception. For my own part, I came to a similar observation about myself around that age. It seemed the more I knew, the more I learned, the more experienced I became, the more I realized I didn’t know much at all! And according to Joyce, that would be when I began to show real intelligence and real wisdom.
We Really Don’t Know Much
King Solomon wrote a proverb in scripture that says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To me, this statement simply acknowledges that we humans really don’t know very much, and if we are wise we will respect that fact and conduct ourselves accordingly. We should keep our minds open, acknowledge other opinions, look for alternatives to our own theories, ask hard questions, never stop learning, and seek knowledge any and every way we can.
In addition, I think Solomon was also implying another very important attribute truly mature, emotionally healthy, and wise people will have; that of humility. There is so much out there that one can know — so much, in fact, that it is unknowable. Once you realize this, you are truly “getting it.” When you humbly approach life with this belief, your path is much different from the one who believes they know everything.
What Do You Believe About Yourself?
I was recently reminded of an incredibly important principle: that the outcomes in our lives are driven by the decisions we make, and the decisions we make are driven by the things we believe. If our belief system is flawed, our decisions will be poor, and the outcomes will be — well, not what we would hope. So, if you believe you know it all, then your decisions will be based on what you alone know. But, if you believe, “you don’t know anything,” your decisions will be informed by your constant search for knowledge and information, new ideas, and other learned opinions and perspectives, thereby raising the chances for your best and highest outcomes.
Are you wise in your own eyes? I hope not. Do you realize “you don’t know anything?” Welcome, to the beginning of wisdom.
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