A Wisdom Assimilation Cycle

March 20 2021

Too much information, absorbed without being digested, is wasted; just eliminated from the body without being able to be utilized.

Writing things down is helpful, but only the start of assimilation. It begins to make it your own. But if you just make it your own as an idea, it will still be less useful than if you turn it into practice.

The trouble is that I love ideas so much, I just want to suck up more of them, and my mind is so good at the simulation process that I can forget the value of practicing them. (What do I mean by this? Well, when you’re good at simulating—imagining the implications of—an idea, you could imagine that you have mastered its usefulness, without actually bringing it down into your day-to-day, where you can really do so.)

The solution I have here is to create a deliberate cycle which ends in practicing, so that time is left over for that part of it. This does not happen automatically, by any stretch of the imagination. This system let me alot my time budget so that it does not all get taken up with learning, thinking, and recording, and gives more specific time for the putting-into-practice part of the process. (While I have been doing this more and more, I feel that I could make much better use of these ideas by a deliberate method such as this one.)

I will use the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a comparative framework here, except that his taxonomy does not seem very well suited for engaging in a wisdom practice.

  1. Read, study, absorb (remembering)
  2. Reflect, integrate, take notes (understanding)
  3. Integrate more thoroughly, by writing my own thoughts based on and around what I wrote (applying)
  4. Determine practices that would be helpful to assimilate these principles. For exampe, let’s take Ray Dalio’s principle 1.1.a Dreams + Reality + Determination = A Successful Life. Because I am more of the dreamer type, this wisdom will suggest specific things that I might want to try, to self-correct in the way I go about my day. I could ask myself: what are some ways that I fool myself? These for me would be around being a non-grounded dreamer, wanting to ignore some principles about reality. From this, I could write down how this would apply to my life. I could see this step as being broken down into smaller steps, possibly. “What does this mean to me? How can I make use of this wisdom? Why (and how) is this wisdom particularly useful to me?” I could ask these questions. Anyway, the step here is to come up with ways to actually practice the wisdom in question. As I say, the practices might be different for different people.
  5. Do the practice. This is where you actually set aside time to do the practice. It may mean scheduling 10 minutes each morning of the coming week, or 20 minutes right now. I strongly recommend trying both. The in-the-moment part is a great idea, so that you don’t turn everything into just a theoretical concept. The day-by-day part seems good too, beause then you are really bringing this idea or practice into your habit patterns.
  6. Note the results of the practice. It seems that one might as well log one’s results, as has occurred to me last week (when I thought, “why has it never occurred to me until now, that I ought to log the results of my practcies, to see what works best for me, and even refine them for myself?")

For example, if I have 2 hours to read, study, and contemplate, I can create a time budget, which allows maximum of 65% of my time for Steps 1-3, and leaves at least 35% left for Steps 4-6. I would then also set aside 10-20 minutes each morning for the following week, to enage in the practice I chose.

I will try this now.

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© Alexander Feller 2018