Has your mouth ever gotten you into trouble? You know what we're talking about. An adult says something and you come back with a smart reply before you think about what you're saying. Before assigning your punishment, you might be told to stop being such a “wise guy."

This is kind of a funny phrase. First of all, wise guys aren't just guys. Gals can be wise guys, too, since the phrase refers to someone being a smart aleck. It's also funny because, if you were truly wise, you wouldn't have said what you did to get into trouble!

Thinking about the times you may have found yourself in such a situation may make you WONDER about wisdom and what it really means to be wise. Does it mean just being intelligent? Or can you be smart but not necessarily wise?

Wisdom and knowledge are closely related. Yet there are also important differences to understand.

Knowledge is all about gathering facts and information. In the Internet age, it is fairly easy to accumulate a lot of knowledge about a topic in a short time. With just a little research, you can become knowledgeable about a subject quickly. But does that make you wise?

Not necessarily! Wisdom is combining your knowledge with your real-life experiences to gain insight that creates a deeper understanding about the people and situations in the real world around you.

In some ways, you can think of knowledge like a tool, such as a hammer. It's fairly easy to obtain a hammer. Can you use that hammer to build something worthwhile, though? That takes more effort and some real-world, practical experience. Learning how to apply the tool (knowledge) in an effective way is like a skill, which is how you can think of wisdom.

You can think about the difference between the two in another way. Do you know people who are very intelligent but always seem to make bad decisions? Just about everyone probably knows people like that.

There's no doubt that the people are smart. However, they seem to lack common sense and their decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. Such people may be full of knowledge, yet completely lacking in wisdom!

So here's a little wisdom for you to remember today: owning a hammer and knowing what to do with it are completely different things. Any tool can be used properly or improperly. Wisdom is combining that tool with your experience to use it properly for good!

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