How to Feel, Think, and Act Wisely

Grant H Brenner
5 min readFeb 25

Researchers offer an integrated wisdom model, with algorithms for wise behavior.

Ennie Horvath/Pexels

Key points

  • A grand unified theory of wisdom distills years of research and prior models of wisdom.
  • Wisdom hinges on many factors, from personality to emotional function, ways of thinking and perceiving, social and communal perspectives.
  • Broad agreement exists that wise behavior balances many elements, based in thoughtful contemplation, often of much information.
  • Wisdom sometimes requires quick action but often first necessitates slowing down and orienting.

Wisdom sometimes seems in short supply, personally and collectively. War, climate change, political conflict, disagreement over basic human rights, gun violence, you name it. There’s a lot to be thankful forbut there are many opportunities not only to alleviate needless suffering but to build a better world together.

From emotions to cognition to culture, having a better understanding of widsom’s DNA, and how to construct wise behavior, seems like a good idea in terms of individual satisfaction, community function, and species-wide evolutionary adaptability.

Wiser Minds Prevail

Researchers Glück and Westrate have been studying wisdom and related concepts, from emotion to cognition, personality to community, contemplation to action, for many years. In their recent work reviewed here, which I’ve been mulling over for months, they pull together their own thinking and the work of many others into a coherent framework-the Integrative Wisdom Model (2022).

In their recent synthesis in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review (2022), Glück and Westrate consider a large number of wisdom models, reviewing and analyzing each to extract the relevant concepts and processes.

For example, they look at what kinds of situations require wisdom (moral dilemmas, conflict, adversity), and what kinds of wise behaviors are required in challenging situations (conflict resolution, doing what is right, supporting others/the common good), and whether desired outcomes are achieved. Looking at dozens of relevant studies, they…

Grant H Brenner

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Disaster Responder, Advocate, Photographer