Some people are referred to as "old souls," but what constitutes an old soul?
First key feature is knowledge before their time.
Some old souls could be playing music at an amazingly talented level while still very little - they are playing above the level at which they were taught or perhaps were self taught. They might be able to name the presidents before the age of 2. But, knowledge before their time is just one feature. As well, when they enter school, they find that they seem to know about subjects that they didn't really research. They intuitively have a pool of knowledge from an unknown source. They may not even need to study before tests to get good grades and if asked to elaborate on a book they didn't read, they somehow know the basic gist of it enough to fudge the answer. Sometimes, they tell someone about something and then inside their head go, "how did I know that?"
Another telling feature of old souls is emotional maturity. An old soul is sometimes saying things that are amazingly insightful and intuitive, spiritual and dignified. They tend to be kind and generous. They don't have many battles and they may never ever display the terrible 2s. They likely put other's needs first and are patient with all levels of knowledge and maturity in others. They don't sweat the small stuff, they see the bigger picture. They don't have to stomp and scream to get their way or fall apart and cry until someone fixes it. They plug along silently, stoically, and with great tenacity. They also expect they won't do things correctly the first time, so they continue to attempt a new skill to gain mastery.
It is no wonder that when someone seems to be insightful, mature, compassionate, and brilliant, we call them an old soul.
For an old soul, their entire being runs at a slightly slowed down shift from others who are frantically running around. They take the time to notice. They take the time to assimilate knowledge and apply it.
Ego is not the driving force. They observe, ask questions, archiving the living process like a visitor to the planet. They want to get a perspective on the whole process.
Old souls don't understand the sheep mentality of keeping up with the Joneses and looking to others to determine their path.
Some people are afraid of old souls because they seem to be more mature, more insightful and intuitive. It makes people who have something to hide uncomfortable. It also means that those with old souls can see through any ruse and are not willing to play the game.
Old souls are definitely more introspective. They may have periods of quiet. They gather information about the universe from an unknown source and sometimes the taking in of new insights means assimilating that information and then applying it to what is happening now. They can be outgoing if necessary, but they genuinely truly like their own company.
They are also less likely to be ego-driven. They don't need credit, they don't need attention, they would rather just help out in the background. Their true goal is to impart some of their inherent wisdom to others so they don't have to take the hard road to learn it.
A wise old soul is the one you want caring for you in an emergency, the one counseling you when you are unsure, mentoring you in a new line of study, or parenting your child beside you.
Wise old souls might seem to be in sync with another time or a different time clock, just slightly off from everyone else who is frantic. It is not that they are physically sluggish, but that they don't have to run their minds at high speeds to extract bits of commonsense and multitasking.
You know a wise old soul when they can sit beside you and study a sunset with intense quiet and no fidgeting.
You know a wise old soul when you are in a frantic rush at the store and they offer you the spot in front of them in line.
You know a wise old soul when you stop at a streetlight at sunset on the way home from a long day at work and the person in the car next to you isn't studying the light, but peering out the top of their windshield to see the sunset.
Perhaps the running theme for wise old souls is, "stop and smell the roses."
Some are born wise old souls, like my son. Even a few weeks old, he would study me on the changing table, watch my mouth and when I said "oohhhhhh" he would repeat it. He wanted to learn, he studied quietly and intently and practiced. He walked early, talked early, read early, as if he was waiting for his body to work so he could do what he already knew since birth.
Others can become wise old souls along the way, whether it's rehabing from an addiction, a near-death experience, or a spiritual transition. Really, all of our elderly population are wise old souls to a degree - they certainly have more insight into what's important, what's not, what is worth experiencing, what they regret not experiencing.
My advice if you are raising a wise old soul is to give them novelty. Expose them to creative outlets from music to dance, art to cooking. And let them form the experience. If you give them legos, tell them to build a new kind of car - don't tell them "build a mini van." Let them be creative and invent any kind of car that may or may not exist. You want them to tap into that other realm of knowledge they have. Keep their minds working, but in a new way. Ask them to sing the answer to a question. If they have to learn about the constitution, ask them to name each ingredient after one of the rights and then when they mix it and cook the brownies or whatever they become, ask them to tell what this thing is that all these rights created - and let them be creative with their description of how all these rights make a country. Then cut off a slice and ask them how it makes a state. Try and keep it new and novel. They only need places to apply knowledge they already have somewhere deep inside.
Wise old souls build new nations, invent game-changing technologies, inspire others, and give our world a sense of meaning to the ordinary, therefore creating the extraordinary.