14 Things That Happen As You Grow In Worldly Wisdom

We seek self-improvement in many areas:  in physical fitness, language proficiency, travel,  stimulating intercourse with women, professional advancement, and in growth of character and worldly wisdom.  Our premise is that development in all these areas makes us better and more successful men.  It is relatively simple to measure our progress in the first five areas I have just listed.  They are readily quantifiable fields of endeavor.  Years ago, when I wanted to maximize my score on the Marine Corps physical fitness test, for example, I would work towards running three miles in eighteen minutes, doing eighty sit-ups in two minutes, and doing twenty pull-ups.

But how is it possible to “measure” our progress in developing character and wisdom?  Is there any meaningful metric that can be used?  The question is an important one.  Without some method of regular self-examination, we will inevitably make things easier on ourselves; we will  slide into complacency.  Advancement will come to a halt.  We will become like the weight-lifter whose progress has reached a plateau, and then just fizzles out.

There are some signs that can be used as indicators of progress in worldly wisdom.  If you are aware of what they are, you will be more likely to notice them.  As you continue your humanistic studies, and (more importantly!) the flesh-and-blood school of hard knocks, you will begin to notice one or more of the following signs of maturing wisdom.

You begin making regular contributions and additions to your philosophy of life.  Wisdom accretes slowly, like mineral formations building slowly in a cave from the steady dripping of water.  As the poet Hesiod says in Works and Days (361-362):  “If to a little you keep adding a little, and do so frequently, it will soon be a lot.”  You build your house of wisdom slowly, one timber and one shingle at a time.


You begin to notice connections between things (ideas, places, personalities, emotions, etc.) previously not perceived.  Increasing wisdom and virtue opens doors of perception that were previously closed.

You begin to lose enthusiasm for being around people without ambition or purpose.  Abandoning people or things that add no value to your life is an important step in forward progress.  Keeping company with dullards, fools, and dissolute people will bring you to ruin sooner or later.

Depressions of the mind or spirit become less frequent and more tolerable.  The philosopher Plotinus, seeing that his pupil Porphyry was suffering from extreme depression, encouraged him to take an extended vacation in Sicily.  The change in routine did him wonders, and accelerated his forward progress in Neoplatonism.

You are less and less disturbed by the foolishness, absurdities, and cruelties of the world.  A major sign of progress is to maintain one’s calm in the face of the avalanche of nonsense which the world throws at us.  I confess I need much improvement in this area.

Your style of discourse (in speaking and writing) begins to change.  Refinement will inevitably become a feature of your discourse.  As the gem becomes more polished and cut, it gleams more brightly.

You begin to lose your inflexibility in holding on to your cherished beliefs.  What we once saw as doctrine, we begin to see as only one perspective.   Certainty is the mark of a closed mind, and is murderous.  The key lesson of philosophy is perspective.

You no longer feel the need to convince or convert people to your position.  People will arrive at the truth in their own time, and on the backs of their own horses.  Losing an argument or debate with another man will mean nothing to you.  Aristippus, after being verbally lashed by another man, said “I who have been beaten in an argument will have a better night’s sleep than my victor.”

You become less governed by your passions, and more governed by reflection and reason.  Unformed spirits are slaves to their fear, greed, envy, and rage.  As a man makes progress in acquiring wisdom, he shifts his focus from the baser passions to the milder, less serious ones.  Advancement of wisdom takes the edge off the destructive passions.  Consider what the humanist Francesco Filelfo (Letter to Poggio and Valla, 1453) said about the destructive power of excessive passion:

We do in fact commonly abandon reason from time to time and freely follow our passions.  This often happens when we are taken in by the advice of friends who secretly hate us or are out for revenge for themselves:  they goad us to fury, bringing us to such heights of passion that we upset all laws human and divine…Can there be any injury so grave as to drive you mad?  For the man who lies is mad enough.  This surely is the nature—the violence, the rage, the fury—of a troubled soul, that it knows no restraint…For as long as a man is deprived of reason’s light, he perceives nothing clearly and judges nothing rightly.  So it comes about that he is as one walking through deepest shadow, his road before and behind, his very destination unknown.

You become more focused on action, and less focused on excuses.  The wise man knows that nothing in this world is attained without effort and struggle.  He spends less time in fantasy, and more time in execution.

You begin to seek out other wise men and value their company.  As Plutarch says, “And a young man improving in character instinctively loves nothing better than to take pride and pleasure in the company of good and noble men…”


You become more focused on attending to details.  Carelessness and frivolity are feminine traits.  The wise man, who seeks progress through study of philosophy, will begin to realize that this world is a serious place, requiring a certain sense of sobriety and application.  The responsibilities of life should be embraced, not shirked.

You begin to see the unity of all things, and the love of this unity growing within you.  As the great Nicolas of Cusa says (Sermon 144),

Love turns into devotion by way of love, so that it is dissolved in tears.  For it is like a fire that is applied to green wood, which burns one part while leaving another moist.  Thus does love act upon the frigid soul…Therefore, love is the cause of order.  When it ceases, order does too.

You become more and more drawn to the study of philosophy.  If you care about the world and about yourself, then you care about philosophy.  Its study will raise you to heights undreamed of.  As Valerius Maximus says, in a brilliant aside in his Memorable Doings and Sayings (III.3):

There is another strong and resolute soldiering of the spirit, powerful through letters, priestess of the venerable rites of learning:  philosophy.  Once received in the heart, she drives away every unseemly and useless emotion, confirms its entirety with the bulwark of solid virtue, [and] makes it more powerful than fear and pain.

There is an inescapable balance in life.  The more difficult a goal is to achieve, the more worthwhile it will be.  Acquiring worldly wisdom is the most difficult of all.  You will mostly feel lost, bewildered, and confused.  You will often feel like abandoning the pursuit altogether.  But even in these moments, remember that you are progressing, even if you believe you are not.  Watch for the signposts on the road, as I have listed them above, and continue on your journey.  Allow others to help you.  As the great humanist Lorenzo Valla said, “To take pleasure in the success of the good and the wise falls only to the lot of one who is himself good and a lover of wisdom.”

Read More:  The Life Of A Location Independent Traveler

63 thoughts on “14 Things That Happen As You Grow In Worldly Wisdom”

  1. Great, Great Article!!! Quintus, this is excellent!!!
    I’ve felt, and am feeling all the 14 things you’ve mentioned. Your post is awesome, can relate to each point strongly.

    1. Read the piece. She describes men as a “species”. We’re the same species as women just a different gender. Also she’s a lesbian. I can’t wait for the radio and TV interviews that will inevitably ensue. Goes “undercover” as a man for 18 months. How original, a lesbian dressing, trying to look and act like a man for 18 months. The bearded man dressed like a lady winning the Eurovision, just more symptoms of the malaise.

  2. Once again, thank you Quintus. Aside from the fantastic way you’ve expanded my library since I started reading ROK, this is wonderful food for thought.

  3. Perspective is very important. “Certainty is the mark of a closed mind, and is murderous.” I’ve already seen enough of the world and walked amongst enough different kinds of people that being judgmental seems pompous and arrogant to me.
    Many of the people I work with (my profession literally is one of the top for attracting psychopaths) sole motivation in life seems to be to chastise people who don’t conform to their myopic and narrow vision of the world. Oh, the vitriol and hatred they spew upon someone who merely thinks and acts different. People like this live in a bubble and never escape it. They lack perspective.
    I consider it one of the great gifts of my life to be able to shift perspective based on where I’m at in the world and who I’m with. There are so many different ways of being human, life in modern day America suffocates me. People think the consumeristic, materialistic, nihilistic way we live is the pinnacle of existence. I, do not.
    “If you can walk with the crowd and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch; If all men count with you, but none too much; you’ll be a man my son.” Perspective.

      1. I never really left, I just didn’t comment as much for while. ROK is literally daily reading for me because of articles like this one.

    1. This is where I get lost though… I’m all for having an open perspective but I have trouble with people that I perceive to lack in integrity.
      When is it fair to judge them if you take a perspectivist stance?
      My ex stands out in my mind as a great and talented person but simply lacks in integrity… she is very selfish… and covers up the destruction that she leaves with other people. Sometimes I want to forgive her and let it be but then I’m left asking myself “so must I abandon any sense of decency?”

      1. Having an open perspective does not translate to having no standards.
        If your ex is selfish and lacks integrity, it is not your place to change your perspective on decency to accommodate her unworthy behavior. Human decency is to seek the good of others. Anyone can have talent of any kind, but to be selfless is a value above all others — something that wisdom will teach you over the years, not force you to rethink.
        Acquired wisdom — a treasure of understanding — although needing to be open to new perspectives, cannot lose its own acquired jewels to latch on to the worthless pennies of others.

    2. “Oh, the vitriol and hatred they spew upon someone who merely thinks and acts different.”
      While I get that it’s mostly trolling a harmfully extreme ideology, one could take the perspective that ROK is doing just this.

      1. I’d argue that there’s nothing quite as extreme as an ideology (feminism and Leftism as practiced in the West) that’s destroying an entire society and race of people.

        1. My father taught me many years ago (and it took quite a few years for the lesson to truly sink in and take root) to avoid zealots, extremists and followers of ideologies of any stripe. There is nothing more important than their ideology/cause/religion/belief and they will sacrifice you in the blink of an eye to serve their ideology/cause/religion/belief.
          Dear departed father was sooooooo right on this one and it is one of his teachings that is part of my core.

  4. “You begin to lose enthusiasm for being around people without ambition or purpose.” struck a chord for me. As I get older, it’s draining to be around the “woe is me” crowd who do nothing to better their situation. These are typically privileged people also, not someone who is truly suffering. Don’t like your job? Start looking for a new one-yes it may take time and effort but nothing worth having comes easy. Don’t like where you live? Move somewhere new. Don’t like your relationship? Break it off and go find another one of millions out there.

  5. All of these things are very true, but I think it’s not enough to just read. You need to think and apply the ideas so that they become second nature to your brain, and then take action with them, on whatever subject.
    Admittedly though, I too need much improvement in not being disturbed by the vapidness of the world. It is so empty and shallow, and omnipresent, that a seeker of glory needs to harden his defenses lest he be consumed.

    1. All of these things are very true, but I think it’s not enough to just
      read. You need to think and apply the ideas so that they become second
      nature to your brain, and then take action with them, on whatever

      How is this done exactly?

    2. “Admittedly though, I too need much improvement in not being disturbed by the vapidness of the world. It is so empty and shallow, and omnipresent, that a seeker of glory needs to harden his defenses lest he be consumed.”
      This is one of my greatest weaknesses. I do not suffer fools gladly, and sometimes I used to think I might have an anti-social personality disorder or something for my high level of angst I get over the ever increasing population of people that have a lazy mind and seem incapable of what I would call “mulit-level” thinking. However, over the last several years, I have taken an objective look at all this and with much reading and changing my perspective, I have come to the conclusion that yes, these “average” people really are that dumb and crazy. And I have to be careful not to fall into the intellectual trap of thinking I am so great just because I am smarter than the mean average American IQ, with the bar for average being as fucking low as it is.

  6. Also, in seeking wisdom and the accretion of a powerful identity, it’s equally if not more important to know what stuff to avoid entirely. You will waste valuable mental labor attempting to refute it or worse, incorporate it into yourself.
    Unfortunately that’s why I haven’t been coming back to this site as often. Because there’s a lot of repeats and bitching about things (women most of all).

  7. I appreciate how this site features articles about the power and continuing relevance of classical literature to the life proper to man. Keep up the good work, QC.
    Regarding, “You begin to seek out other wise men and value their company,” I used to work with a guy in his late 30’s, an unmarried fallen-away Mormon, if you could imagine that, who told people, even ones he didn’t know, about his “best friend” who went to prison on a drug conviction.
    I told this loser that people judge you by the kinds of friends you have. If you tell people that you have friends in prison, they’ll profile you as as similar kind of lowlife and not trust or respect you. By contrast, if you can show that you have competent, successful, ethical friends, they will form a much better assessment of your character.

  8. great article… if men understood the benefits of hitting 40 and having their shit together…. they’d spend far less time chasing tail and far more time building, skill, asset, wealth, health, social connections, business connections, etc.
    the only thing i might add is that at one point or another a man is defined not by what he does, but by what he gives back to those around him… thus very successful people often cite their kids and families as their greatest achievement, even though redpill could easily sway a man from ever getting into this realm.
    essentially a man who says his family is his greatest achievement is either very successful and respected in his professional life, thus no longer seeks validation in that area…. OR he’s lying to cover up his failures in life.

    1. I see chasing tail as my “vacation in Sicily” from the majority of time spent in reasoned thought and productive endeavor. Most men, especially the younger ones here seem to have that backwards and consequently spend many years chasing the wind, to borrow from Solomon.
      My advice to anyone under 40 who wants it is to put the horse before the cart and work on these 14 excellent points first and foremost. The tail is always there for the taking, and honestly should only be taken in moderate amounts lest a man get lost in the pursuit of it, forsaking the blinding of his own character and value.

      1. It only really has value as an ego-booster, and soon gets boring.
        Philosophy and growing in wisdom never get boring.

    2. “essentially a man who says his family is his greatest achievement is either very successful and respected in his professional life, thus no longer seeks validation in that area…. OR he’s lying to cover up his failures in life”
      I hear ya – but I think we will see very soon the vast majority of men will no longer tout the “family is my greatest achievement…” nonsense. Divorce in my opinion is almost a garuntee under the current state affairs and there is no wife material to be had among all the broken females that make up the garbage generation of today.
      That said, seems like dudes who want to do something cool with their lives do not march off to the gallows of matrimony. Marriage today is reserved for beta simps with nothing going on, no ambition, and with low self esteem.

    3. Actually i’d go as far as to say, having a family IS success….in the biological sense which is one of the few actual REAL ones…..”Proffessional success” is actually way overrated and a sign more often than not that a man is beaten down by society and it’s current expectations…..By lack of “proffesional success” do you actually mean lack of money?
      Proffessional success is a means to an end(money) and the real things it can get you.
      Unless you are on your way to private jet, Bang a new model everyday, don’t have to work money. No one really gives a crap about your professional success and it’s just something you(and/or your fat aging wife) are pleased with in your head(s). Theres no red carpet and people clapping when you walk down the street…what kind of validation are you seeking from your professional life…..? i think you should just do what you enjoy….
      Yes even a slighty bigger house, and nicer car is just in your head…..most other people have a roof over their head and car too…..
      Some of us were born not seeking validation…professionally or otherwise….some of us were born quite happy with ourselves and just feeling sorry for other people that they can’t be us….For us there is only Very Rich and Not very rich. Everything else is just an idea in your head of how great you are, some people needs something more real to show for it, Money at least and the things it can buy, because they were born already knowing how marvellous they are, no validation required.
      No one is dreaming about being a better accountant or engineer…..they are dreaming about being Donald Trump, someone who actually has a cooler/better Life, rather than just works harder at a boring occupation.

  9. The Oracle of ROK waxes eloquent edification again.These essays of Qunitus cannot and should never garner mass popularity.If they did,it is a symptom of crass.Like the Ancients cited in the prose,the message is meant for the select few.
    My own progress seems to be consistent with these 14 things,but this essay is a gem of a guide in reaffirming the paths to true wisdom.

  10. I enjoy the ROK articles about the wisdom young men, like myself, are or should be experiencing year after year.
    Thanks for sharing Quintus! -dcl

  11. “The responsibilities of life should be embraced, not shirked.”
    Responsibility can be a dangerous concept (especially in a vague phrase such as ‘responsibilities of life’). It is commonly used in commercial, bourgeois societies and it is often a way to saddle unique individuals with unwelcome burdens. I would claim that the first duty of a talented man is to his own talents (i.e. to himself).

  12. Wisdom is a surrender of the physical body to the mind.
    When the body gets weak and it lacks the energy fight another battle it
    surrenders to the intelligence of the mind (the weakest link). So we “think” we
    are now wise and we know better. Bullshit! We start rationalising and accept
    failure because we’ve lost the last battle.
    Wisdom is analysing a lost battle. But you’re not getting ready for
    another, you’re wise now and prefer to sit and watch from the side and nod your
    When do we get wise? When we get old or weak as old. When our sex drive
    nose dives, we get wise about women. We see them for the really are. Truth is we
    can’t fuck them. We are wise now. Impotent and weak. We’ve thrown so much of
    sperm away that we can only think and talk about women, we can not fuck them as
    hard as before.
    You know what’s common between all philosophers? They all come from a
    privileged background, they all inherit a large sum which allows them get on
    with their philosophy without the inconvenience of having to work. They were
    never faced with real life struggle in order to get weak. They were weak and
    managed to stay weak with the luxury of money.
    Power is the only thing that matters. Wisdom is for the weak and old.
    When you lose your power, you’ll have lost your life, you’re dead, ready to
    go. No point getting wise about it because you ain’t gonna get it back. Just
    fucking die!

  13. Quintus may I ask you how old are you? I just recently turned 50 and your assertions are congruent with my attitudes. Excellent article.

  14. Another EXCELLENT article Quintus! You are truly setting a high bar here at ROK. Please keep up the excellent postings.

  15. I don’t know, as I have gotten older, I have gotten angrier, and more willing to do what it takes to change the status quo. At 21 I thought the world was an awesome place full of promise, but at 41 I am quite ready to take up a gun and help to destroy it.
    I am extremely disturbed at the dissolution of what it means to be a human being, and frankly I think the entire gen x (of which I am a part) is an utterly lost cause. as is the following generation. We need to go back to formula.

    1. If the Trump Revolution signals a cultural shift back towards what worked before the rot of progressive degeneracy, perhaps Aaron Clarey will write about enjoying the plateau.

  16. The philosophy to properly dominate a woman is alive and being resurrected in the west like never before. Many good philosopher men must answer the call. The philosophical mindset is here now, arrived right on time to avert the impending nuclear fembitch mutiny in the west. Hoardes of rogue wild women run amok in the lands like someone let the zoo or the dog pound out. Alas philosopher man is borne today from the necessity of the situation we face. The philosophy of man has taken root in many and now plays like a big screen cinema before our mass consciousness. The tools are at our fingertips for regaining control of our women and returning MAN to the throne. Let’s get PHILOSOPHIZING.

  17. See that there be no one who shall lead you away as a prey through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the teaching of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossens 2:8)

    1. Time to set this doomsday cult from the childhood of the race aside and move on. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

      1. I never would affiliate to an ideological dogma (atheism, per example) who recruits men by the instrument of shame. You surely have not understood the Bible. If you’re a man you must know who you are, from where do you came, to whom do you belong, where you’re heading, recognize what authority is above you and accept advice from wiser men, like the biblical Paul who, by the way, wrote the quote that you mentioned.

  18. “Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.” Sir Francis Bacon

  19. Philosophers traditionally taught detachment and resignation from the world because you couldn’t fundamentally improve its shitty conditions. The orientation of philosophy seems to have changed around the beginning of the 17th Century, starting with Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes, both of whom went into philosophy with practical agendas in mind. Since then, many philosophers became activists for intervening into the world to try to make life better based on what they considered philosophical reason.
    This experiment has produced mixed results, and we can see that the parts about feminism, egalitarianism, democracy, cosmopolitanism, miscegenation and sexual freedom don’t really work that well. The scientific part has also run into trouble, considering the replicability crisis in many areas of biology and psychology.
    in light of these problems, it seems like a good opportunity to rethink what we mean by “philosophy,” and what it can do for us.

    1. I think of “Philosophy” in the sense of “The Consolation of Philosophy” of Boethius.
      Philosophy started to die around the 17th Century, and breathed its last with the later witterings of Wittgenstein.

  20. Referring to a comment below me which was talking about how wiser=less judgmental, I think if anyone thinks that, they are misinterpreting the article. Being judgmental is a fundamental component of any decent man, we do it all the time, when we go see movies we say yay or nay, a judgement, a website like this, full of judgement and position statements and arguments, should not get the luxury of going the “I’m an indifferent monk” route. That’s for frustrated people who don’t know how to express their judgement, root of all conformity and loss of standards present in the faggy MGTOW movement and MRA movement.

    1. I keep telling people this.
      It’s also important for making snap decisions… sometimes you MUST judge a book by its cover if no deeper details are immediately available.

  21. Many of the points you make are so relevant to me at this point in my life. For example a good friend of mine has had a few tough years, splitting up with his wife, business troubles, etc. I have done my best to help him out, some expenses, advice, etc. He has however taken none of my advice and is swimming in circles, let himself go, hasn’t hit the bottle though. There is no getting through to him. I have lost “enthusiasm” for his company.

  22. Re-reading this article only makes me appreciate it more.
    Thanks Quintus or all the important work that you do.

  23. For a second I read “stimulating” as “simulating”, and was most perplexed…

  24. Thanks for reposting this one fellas. I don’t remember reading it before–but lately some of these things have just been smacking me in the face.
    Anyone who’s new here, pay careful attention to this list. If you’re not seeing many of the same results in your life, maybe there’s still some areas you need to work on.

  25. I tried everything you said and now busloads of 20 year old honeys are gluing themselves to my crotch. I can’t even walk. THANKS A LOT. What should I do??? Dear Abby refuses to respond to my letters

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