The Wisdom Page 


Wisdom 101
A Course in Practical Wisdom

This free online course is about crafting full, rich, creative, and enjoyable lives for ourselves — lives that are significant, lives that contribute in some way to the world around us. The course is rooted in the idea that some steps toward wisdom require nothing more than a fresh look at common life situations, nothing more than an appreciation of the difference between skillful and unskillful ways of dealing with those situations. Its premise is that a few truths about everyday life, if pointed out and taken seriously, can make a significant difference in the quality of day-to-day living and our enjoyment of life.

The course consists of 22 lessons. Lesson 0 is an introduction to the topic of wisdom. Lessons 1 through 16 focus on the life-building process and on various challenges associated with daily living. In these lessons you will consider some skillful and not-so-skillful ways of dealing with these challenges, some wiser-than-usual ways of looking at these situations, and some perspectives that just might help move your life in the direction of greater wisdom.

Lessons 17 through 21 deal with ways of developing wise responses and attitudes toward life happenings, as well as some helpful ways of seeing and interpreting the data of life. The aim of these latter lessons is to guide us toward those all-win mind spaces that are enjoyable to experience, good for us, and indirectly benefit others.

Each lesson involves three elements:

  1. Text from the Introduction or one of the 21 short chapters of Copthorne Macdonald's book GETTING A LIFE: Strategies for Joyful & Effective Living,

  2. Rollins College Professor Alan Nordstrom's thought-provoking and writing-stimulating notes to students which evolved during the many years that he has taught the classroom version of this course, and

  3. Most important of all, YOU — reflecting on the material you have read and then writing down whatever thoughts, feelings, and insights have arisen from that deep, quiet place within where your own wisdom resides. We suggest that you first write in your own private "journal" — be it a paper notebook or a series of "pages" in a computer folder. Here, the length of what you write is not the issue. It could be a paragraph or a lengthy, titled essay. What is important is that your words express your thoughts and feelings of the moment. Some of what you write will remain private. Some you are likely to want to share, and we encourage you to do that by entering or pasting it in the comment box at the end of the relevant lesson..

Where to start? Alan and I (Cop/Copthorne) suggest starting with Lesson 0 and working down the list. On the other hand, you could start by looking over the list and selecting a topic that grabs your attention and stirs your interest. Wherever you decide to start, click on that topic. You will be transported to that lesson's online environment. Here you will find the chapter text, Alan Nordstrom's class notes, the comments that others have made, and a box in which to enter your own post-reflection thoughts. Also, feel free to comment on the comments made by others. Alan and I will be dropping by to read your comments and to add some of our own..

This course is offered entirely free of charge. If you find it of value, you could indicate that in your comments.


Lesson 0 — An Introduction to Wisdom
Lesson 1 — Getting a Life
Lesson 2 — Being a Learner
Lesson 3 — Deferring Satisfaction
Lesson 4 — Doing Things Carefully
Lesson 5 — Doing It Now
Lesson 6 — Confident Knowing
Lesson 7 — Our Engagement with Work
Lesson 8 — Appropriate Planning

Lesson 9 — Seeking the Truth

Lesson 10 — Feeling Good About Ourselves

Lesson 11 — Dealing With Reactivity
Lesson 12 — Making Death Real
Lesson 13 — Transcending Loneliness
Lesson 14 — Being Really Interested
Lesson 15 — Co-Adventuring
Lesson 16 — Sexual Bonding — A Caveat
Lesson 17 — Routes to Joy
Lesson 18 — Rediscovering Wonder
Lesson 19 — Enhancing Creativity
Lesson 20 — Real Happiness
Lesson 21 — Opening the Heart

All of the book's text appears in the lessons above, so you don't need to buy a copy of the paper-and-ink book to take the course. Still, many of us prefer to do our reading from a book in the hand, and Getting a Life is available from many online book sellers including, Barnes&, and Powell's Books.