Judith Glück in conversation with Nicole Dittmer

Openness and willingness to embrace other perspectives – two factors that belong to wisdom. (Unsplash / Faye Cornish)

The oldest, the wisest? This is not the case, says Judith Glück. The psychologist has been researching wisdom for years, which does not necessarily increase with age. In order for knowledge to become truly wisdom, it is necessary to add a certain attitude towards life.

“Youth is the time to learn wisdom. Old age is the time to practice it.” This phrase by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau does not necessarily coincide with the findings of modern wisdom research.

“Wisdom is probably not very common at any age, and unfortunately it is not the case that it would generally increase significantly in old age,” says wisdom researcher Judith Glück, professor of psychology. at the University of Klagenfurt.

Knowledge is part of wisdom

But wisdom is not entirely independent of age, says Glück. Because wisdom also includes a lot of knowledge: “Knowledge of life, of people, of self-knowledge, but also of knowing that others are different from you,” she explains. “This knowledge is of course mainly acquired through life experience and of course you also accumulate it with age.”

For knowledge to become wisdom, however, it is necessary to add a certain attitude towards life and towards others: “An openness, a curiosity, also for other perspectives, as well as the general will to learn from life and to continue. to develop.

The wise are not automatically happier

Of course, there are very old, extremely wise people, but the latest studies indicate that “the peak of wisdom can be between 60 and 75,” says the wisdom researcher. “It seems that there are most people who, on the one hand, have amassed a lot of life experience and, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of handling complexity, including complex emotions.”

Besides, the wise are not happier. But it is easier for them, for example, to accept aging, specifies the psychologist. “The sages are very at peace with themselves and also with their life story. They are at peace with who they are, and they are also very at peace with the fact that life also includes aging, that things change. , that nothing stays that way. They just see it as an opportunity for growth and learning. “