The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Which is better for you?

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“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”

I saw that quote last week on an older lady’s t-shirt, in a Thai restaurant, while waiting for my carry-out order. At first, I laughed. I thought it was mostly silly. Then it sparked some thought.

Lots of People Seek Knowledge

Whether we like to admit it or not, most of our days are spent consuming information. You might not think reading Cosmopolitan magazine counts for gaining knowledge, but it is.

  • Watching TV is a way to gain knowledge

  • Browsing Reddit on our smartphones is a way to gain knowledge

  • Reading books is a way to gain knowledge

Lots of folks think one medium is better than the others — I tend to believe that reading books/articles/essays (like this one) is best — but it all works, nonetheless.

This certainly isn’t ground-breaking news. Present-day humans are ridiculed for constantly staring into their smartphones, but one look at a photo from New York City back in the day and you’ll see thousands of people with their faces planted into newspapers. How we consume knowledge has changed, but our thirst for it has always been prevalent.


The point I’m trying to make is that lots of people seek knowledge. We like to appear smart and impress our peers. But is knowledge really what we need? Or should we be striving for something more?

Let’s take a look at wisdom.

Fewer People Gain Wisdom

If knowledge is knowing a bunch of stuff, wisdom is being able to retain and implement that stuff in practical applications.

For example, we all have that friend who’s very knowledgeable about health, diet, and fitness.

“You shouldn’t eat that slice of pizza. It’ll make you fat.”

Yet that same person is painfully overweight and clearly doesn’t follow his own advice. That dude might be somewhat knowledgeable, but he's far from wise.

Here’s the thing — knowledge is easy. Wisdom takes effort, trial, error, pain, blood, sweat, and tears. That’s why there are so few people in this world who are truly wise. It’s a lifelong practice. And it's really fucking hard sometimes.

Knowledge is for sure the more comfortable option. I mean, what’s easier? Reading about the benefits of cold therapy or running some ice-cold water and jumping into the shower?

Turning Knowledge into Wisdom

I don’t know about you, but when I seek advice, I look for a mentor who’s been through the gauntlet, not one who’s simply shouting the loudest.

There are plenty of ways that you can start turning knowledge into wisdom:

  • Watch a yoga video and actually follow along

  • Read a book about business, then go start your own

  • Watch a documentary about veganism, then try it out for a month

  • Listen to a chef’s podcast, then go create a masterpiece in the kitchen

These are just a few ideas to motivate and teach you the mindset of the wise. Please note that failure is unavoidable. It’s the admission fee to earning wisdom, growing, and finding certain levels of success.

But it's definitely worth it.

The next time someone asks you “Hey, Becky, did you know...”

You can respond with “Yes, actually, I do know. I've done it."