Knowledge VS Wisdom

buddha (2)
Buddha. watercolors and marker, 5/29/18

A successful recovery is dependent upon on a handful of basic concepts and behavioral adjustments. Abstain from using intoxicating substances; surround yourself with support; develop new, healthy coping mechanisms. In my search for information to help in my recovery, I repeatedly encountered the same basic information over and over again. I was thinking, duh, this is common sense. There must be more to it.

Of course, there is more to it. Each aspect of recovery involves effort; unearthing the underlying cause of our addictions layer by layer. You cannot recover by simply stuffing your brain with more and more information. I am not discouraging anyone from learning as much as they can. But the truth is you probably already have enough information to succeed in your recovery. You just need to put it into action. That is why I want to talk about the importance of understanding the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is an intellectual understanding. You know something to be true. It’s a memorization of facts, like answers to trivia questions.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Your intellectual understanding is carried out in your actions in the form of good judgment.

Why do I believe this is important?

If we are mindful of the difference between knowledge and wisdom, we are more apt to convert our knowledge into wisdom by acting on it. If we find ourselves frustrated with the repetition of the same information and advice that we already know, we may be missing an opportunity to pause for a moment and ask ourselves honestly: Do I possess this knowledge in the form of wisdom? Do my actions reflect my intellectual understanding of this information? These are questions I’ve asked myself many times. Often, the answer is no. I know something is true but I am failing to act wisely. I am not applying this knowledge to the best of my ability.

All we need to do to confirm the frequency of this occurrence is look at the advice people give others and see if their actions reflect their intellectual understanding. I’ve always said I am much better at giving advice than following my own advice. Now I know why. I lacked wisdom.

Another reason I am bringing this up is because I’ve had many revelations throughout my recovery, which I plan to share with you through Hello, Mara. I’m forewarning you, those “a-ha” moments rarely come in the form of new, mind-blowing discoveries. The vast majority of the time they are moments when something clicks, converting my knowledge into wisdom. Don’t get disappointed if the personal revelations I talk about seem like common sense solutions. They usually are. They just aren’t being applied.

Take advantage of the repetition of familiar topics and ask yourself if you are applying your knowledge to daily life. Continue to make adjustments. Your awareness will become action, which will become wisdom, which will become habit,  which will become success.

Sometimes the only difference between a good day and a bad day is the amount of victories you walk away with. Step up to the challenge and know you’re on the right track. Stay vigilant.

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Hello, Mara is an ongoing project seeking continual improvement. If there are any resources you would like to see added to, please e-mail directly at

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