Become Wise Enough to Serve as Your Own Best Adviser


1. Look with suspicion upon unsolicited advice. You will probably get a lot of it in the coming years. It may well be motivated by impulses and aims having little to do with your own best interest. For instance, a middle-aged person may be interested in recapturing, for a moment, his own youth by vicariously connecting with younger generations in the form of advice-giving. Or, he may be attempting to distance himself from the folly of his own youth. Be willing to consider advice, and even to learn from it, but remember that the ultimate goal in life is not to follow others advice but to create your own, to become wise enough to serve as your own best adviser.

2. Do not believe those who say, you are over-thinking it. Most often, what such people mean is:Your thinking is too quick and complex for me. It is very hard to over-think. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we under-think.

3. Be wary of those who say, just trust your gut. There is nothing simple about trusting your gut. To trust your gut, you must first find your gut, which takes time and effort. You must try out your gut, see where it leads you, see to what it tends, see what it favors and what it hates. You must discover what sort of creature your gut is. So, first go seek your gut, study your gut, prove your gut in the archaic sense (look up the archaic meaning of the term, prove if you don't know it), and then decide whether and how to listen to your gut.

4. Learn, if you are able, what fear and anxiety are for you, what they do to you, and how they affect your thoughts and actions. If you can do this, you will have a much better chance of dealing with them in creative and courageous ways. To become familiar with fear and anxiety requires that you probe them, think about them, talk about them, and, sometimes, confront those things that make you the most fearful or anxious.

5. There are a few profound paradoxes that point us toward a richer understanding of the human condition. One paradox is that human lives can be meaningful to persons and yet, in some ultimate sense, the existence of humanity may be meaningless. Another is that when one creates something, one finds what is already there. Find and appreciate the rare, special paradoxes when you can, but beware the temptation to seek refuge in mysteriousness where reason could enlighten you. Many apparent paradoxes are mere confusions. Many people are unable to recognize the genuine paradoxes, so they see false paradoxes everywhere. For example, it is not truly paradoxical to give unsolicited advice to be wary of unsolicited advice: That is merely ironic.

-Matthew Bowker '96CC