Personal transformations and the acquisition of wisdom

Have you ever experienced a personal transformation that changed how you saw the world?


In this blog post, I go through 5 things that will change how you think. Each of these things has the potential to trigger a personal transformation in your life. Keep reading to find out how you can acquire the wisdom to expand your mind.


1. Personal experience

Your personal experiences will change how you think. When you go through something yourself, you come out with a special understanding and appreciation for those experiences. People who have not experienced the same things can only partly grasp what you’ve been through. This means that certain types of understanding and wisdom can only be obtained through personally experiencing them.

As certain types of understanding can only be acquired through the personal experience of the individual, it’s the burden of each individual to go through the experiences necessary in order to obtain such understanding. You can’t buy it, teach it, or gain it from someone else. You can only experience it for yourself.

So in order for someone to go through a lot of personal transformations, they must broaden their personal experience by being open to many different experiences and paying close enough attention to learn along the way. This may sound a bit abstract so far, but this point is not abstract, as you can choose to submit yourself to different experiences in order to gain the experiential wisdom from them.

For example, you might go traveling, have sex with a person you love, believe God to answer a prayer, try some new foods for the first time, or kill someone while at war with another nation. It’d be hard to truly understand what all these experiences were like, and gain the wisdom from them, without going through them yourself.

All your experiences shape who you are and how you think. We now know from epigenetics that your environment has a powerful impact on the way your genes are expressed. So exposure to different environments can turn different portions of your DNA sequence on or off, resulting in personal change. So you might want to start to take your personal experiences more seriously and expose yourself to environments and situations that will literally bring the best out of you.


2. Relationships

If there is one type of experience that is guaranteed to change your thinking, it’s going through relationships. For better or for worse, relationships bend a person’s mind like no other.

A lot of the time I find that relationships blind people. Speaking from observation and from experience, people seem to get so wrapped up in their own fantasy that their decision-making abilities are severely hindered. So when they are in a relationship they are operating sub-optimally, as if half their brain is missing.

Then something interesting happens. The relationship self-destructs and the couple break up. Along the way, the person who was once living out their fantasy is now faced with the harsh realities of life. If they are wise they will learn from the mistakes they made, they will gain an understanding of the true dynamic of their previous relationship, and they’ll come out thinking differently about relationships and life altogether.

Hopefully, they’ll be more equipped for the next one. If they do seek to learn from each relationship they’ve been in, then they’ll undergo a personal transformation and develop the wisdom necessary for their next relationship.

Otherwise, if a person does not transform, and doesn’t integrate what they’ve learned into their lives, then they’ll most likely keep repeating the same relationship mistakes. They can only break out of this negative pattern when their awareness of themselves expands and changes how they see themselves and relationships.

Not only will learning from previous relationships change how you think, but finding the right relationship can also trigger a transformative experience. Just as two chemicals react to each other in chemistry, it’s the bringing together of two unique personalities that finally create a special reaction and change. They bring out the best in each other and change how each other thinks about themselves, their relationship, and the world.


3. Psychology

Learning from the field of psychology will definitely change how you think. Psychology gives you a greater insight, not only into other people but into yourself and into the culture that surrounds you.

I personally find the psychology of personality of particular interest as it allows you to understand the differences in people and how their temperament impacts their choices and actions. Personality theories are also great ways to explore who you are and can offer you insights towards personal transformation.

For example, the first time I took the Myers-Briggs personality test I cried as I finally found something that validated who I was and how I functioned as a person. This proves just how powerful these psychology tools can be for personal transformation. I recommend using the following psychology tools for self-discovery: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, The Big Five personality test, and The Enneagram.

After you’ve completed them all and read about them then try to combine them and look at the nuances of your personality. You’ll have to do some extra research online beyond just taking the tests so you can understand what your results mean. But as a consequence of delving so deeply into your personality, you are sure to find some wisdom and likely to undergo a transformative process as a result of your expanded self-awareness. You’ll better understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, and direction in life.

Besides personality theory, I’d also recommend delving into ideas from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to get a better understanding of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology. Jean Piaget’s work on genetic epistemology is also an interesting look at the origins of human knowledge.

As you work through their ideas and books it’s best to collect their ideas as if they are tools, instead of trying to nail down each of their beliefs as complete truth. This will allow you to go through the history of psychology and appreciate both old and new ideas and how they can add value to your personal life and those around you.

For example, you may be tempted to ignore Freud all together, but just because he got a few things wrong doesn’t mean there isn’t value in understanding what he contributed. After all, Freud was probably a lot smarter than you are, and the things he did get right are things we take for granted today, such as the unconscious mind.

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4. Philosophy

It’s said that in an introduction to philosophy, the course lecturer can talk about a pen for two hours. The idea being that philosophy as a subject has so many different ways of thinking and approaching understanding, knowledge, and truth that a simple pen can take hours to define. Taking the time to learn some philosophy will not only change the way you think, it’ll completely explode your thinking to a new level.

I’d suggest taking it easy at first and just choosing one or two areas that appeal to you the most. You can often find online communities, YouTube videos, and heaps of other free resources or lists that point to what books to buy if you want to go a little deeper on a subject.

Even though Jordan Peterson is a psychologist a lot of his lectures are very philosophical in nature. I’ve recently gone through all of his lectures on YouTube and I’ll be going back through them again to take notes. Some of the philosophical aspects of his lectures relate to pragmatic philosophy, ideas from Friedrich Nietzsche, and philosophical ideas surrounding Carl Jung to name a few.

I’ve also gone through part of a series by Wheaton College called Arthur Holmes: A History of Philosophy. I find it helpful to go through the history of philosophy so you can see how the ideas progressed across time. I’ve also found the book History of Philosophy by Julian Marias very helpful in this regard. There is probably a copy floating around the internet somewhere.

As you learn more about philosophy your mind continues to transform as you interact with the different schools of philosophical thought. Hopefully, you’ll be building your philosophical muscle and acquiring wisdom that you can apply to your life.

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5. Science

It is actually quite hard to think scientifically and formulate testable explanations and predictions about the universe. I can’t claim to be that scientifically minded, although what I do know is that the scientific method is used to explain the events of nature in a reproducible way.

Explanations are put forth with falsifiable predictions that are put to the test by experiments or observations. A satisfactory hypothesis then might become a part of the framework for a scientific theory that is logically valid and useful in describing certain occurrences of the natural world.

While the scientific method is known as empirical science, mathematics is known as a formal science. Mathematics plays a powerful role in science as it allows for the expression of scientific models.

For example, I have a friend that is a physicist who I had a 2-hour conversation with about his scientific model for one of his latest physics papers. We were talking in metaphors to explain how long objects could be stretched out through space but he said to truly understand I’d have to look at the mathematical equations and they would be the most accurate description of what he was talking about.

So for me to truly think scientifically I had to be able to think in mathematical equations because the English language wasn’t sufficient enough. I obviously didn’t have the mathematical ability but what I did realize was the power of mathematics in changing how we think about the world and in enhancing what we are able to conceptualize.

When evidence is gathered through the empirical sciences, or a mathematical explanation is conveyed, it has the power to change how you think and could possibly inform you on how to do something or how something works – if you can understand the explanation that is.

As a refresher, I’ve signed up to the Khan Academy that has free online courses covering mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology among other great courses. I thought it’d be good to start from the beginning again to build that foundation of knowledge before moving onto something more challenging.

If you’re in the same position why not sign-up? It’s completely free and you might learn something that gives you the ability to understand the world through a scientific lens.

I love being able to see the big picture and I found this awesome diagram that maps out the major branches of science on a scale. Because of copyright reasons, I can’t put it in this post but I am able to link to it if you want to check it out: Branches of Science.

Question: Has something changed how you think about life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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