How to use "Solomon's paradox" to give yourself good life advice


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Sep 03, 2023

4 min read


How to use "Solomon's paradox" to give yourself good life advice

In the realm of wisdom and great advice, King Solomon is a name that often comes to mind. Known for his sagacity and discernment, he offered guidance to many during his reign. However, when it came to his personal affairs, Solomon was surprisingly shortsighted. This paradox in his character has given rise to what is now known as Solomon's paradox, a phenomenon that explores our ability to give rational and useful advice to others while struggling to apply the same wisdom to our own lives.

It is a well-established fact that we excel at giving advice to others. Deep down, most of us have a sense of what constitutes a good life and are able to articulate it to our friends and loved ones. We offer suggestions and recommendations that we ourselves may never follow. This disparity between our ability to advise others and our own actions can be attributed to the concept of Solomon's paradox.

To understand Solomon's paradox, it is essential to delve into the story behind it. In one particular event, two women came before King Solomon, both claiming to be the mother of a child. To determine the true mother, Solomon proposed a solution that shocked those present. He suggested cutting the child in half so that each woman could have an equal share. The true mother, overcome with love and compassion, pleaded for the child's life to be spared, even if it meant giving him to the other woman. Solomon, recognizing the true mother's selflessness, awarded her custody of the child.

While Solomon's decision in this instance showcased his wisdom, his overall parenting approach was flawed. This ultimately led to his son, Rehoboam, becoming a cruel and tyrannical ruler who brought about sin and abomination. Solomon's poor parenting choices highlight his detachment from the temperate and sensible path, leading to negative consequences.

In 2014, psychologists Igor Grossman and Ethan Kross conducted a study that shed light on Solomon's paradox. Their research revealed two important findings. Firstly, people tend to display wiser reasoning when it comes to solving another person's problems compared to their own. Secondly, when individuals distance themselves from their own problems, they become better equipped to make sensible decisions.

This study highlights the distinction between two forms of wisdom: personal wisdom and general wisdom. Personal wisdom refers to the knowledge and insights we possess in relation to our own affairs, while general wisdom pertains to our ability to provide advice and guidance to others. The challenge lies in bridging the gap between the two and finding ways to apply our general wisdom to our personal lives.

So, how can we utilize Solomon's paradox to give ourselves good life advice? Here are three actionable tips:

  • 1. Talk to yourself: Engage in self-reflection and ask yourself two crucial questions: "Why are you doing that?" and "What can you do to help?" By posing these inquiries, you can gain a better understanding of your motives and identify ways to support and improve yourself.
  • 2. Journaling: Seek the perspective of someone who knows you well, such as a close relative or a best friend. Ask them to identify a person they believe you resemble and then learn as much as you can about that individual. By adopting a third-person perspective, you can distance yourself from your own situation and gain valuable insights into the advice you would offer to someone facing similar circumstances.
  • 3. Embrace the community: Surround yourself with a supportive community that encourages personal growth and offers constructive feedback. Engaging in discussions and seeking input from others can broaden your perspective and help you view your own challenges from different angles. By leveraging the collective wisdom of your community, you can gain valuable insights that may have been overlooked when solely relying on your own judgment.

In conclusion, Solomon's paradox teaches us that while we may possess wisdom and the ability to give excellent advice to others, it can be challenging to apply the same level of wisdom to our own lives. By incorporating techniques such as self-reflection, journaling, and community engagement, we can bridge the gap between personal and general wisdom. By utilizing Solomon's paradox, we can give ourselves the good life advice we deserve and strive towards a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

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