The Myth of Ignorant Bliss

Ignorance is Bliss. This old saying implies the less you know, the less you are responsible for, and the less you have to worry about. The problem with that is that it’s only half true! As my wife and I are raising our kids this has been made very clear. It’s also very clear why people stay in ignorance even when the long term consequences are just plain devastating! Let me explain.

As parents of young children it requires HARD WORK to raise them the right way. You need to know how young children respond to input, to think about every word that comes out of your mouth, and you need consistency in what you do vs. what you say, and in how you hold them accountable. Parenting also requires a balance of freedom to learn, and guidelines your children have to abide by. These are just a few things, aside from all the non-intellectual activities such as making food, changing diapers, and cleaning the house! This is the work required when you decide not to be ignorant. You see, the moment you learn something, such as the right way to behave or raise children, you are now responsible to do something with that knowledge. It’s a lot of work! Because the burden of responsibility is so great, it’s worth wondering, would you be better off not knowing, and being less stressed? If you don’t know, you aren’t responsible for the outcome, the way things happen, or for alerting someone who can do something about the problem. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

Here is the thing, though. Not knowing an alligator is about to eat you doesn’t change the FACT that you will soon be in his stomach. Not exactly blissful. Not working hard to be aware and raise your kids with intentional words and actions is only blissful as long as they are too young to question. It doesn’t change the fact that they will someday be out of control, demanding people, who think very little of themselves and others. Being ignorant becomes much less blissful when your house is in constant chaos because your kids won’t listen and your spouse is angry at you!

Using the ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ mindset in any area of life will end up metaphorically killing the one who speaks it. Money, marriage, knowledge of responsibilities at work, raising kids, knowing how to handle salesmen, or a million other things you could name. This saying is used by people who have not had success in their lives, and instead of taking responsibility to change and do the hard, but effective, things, they laugh and say “ignorance is bliss.” It is only blissful until the results come in: chaos, loss, pain, broken relationships, lost work, lost money, and a thousand other woes that result.

On the other hand, being aware, taking responsibility and working hard, staying up late taking care of your kids, trying to communicate well with your spouse, doing something about a problem you see at work, playing with your kids even at the end of a long day, these are all hard things we do now to produce the fruit of future healthy relationships. Feelings value, children who do responsible things and take responsibility for themselves, having money in the bank to take care of needs that come up, and even to enjoy! This is the fruit that is brought from NOT allowing yourself to be ignorant. From taking responsibility and being an ADULT instead of acting like a kid and then blaming the “other kids” for your problems.

Unhappy marriages, out of control kids, bad health, in most cases, these situations are the result of people choosing to stay ignorant of better ways of handling things in their lives. The moment you are no longer ignorant is the moment in which you become responsible for the outcome of a lot of situations. Based on how you respond, how you act, the words you say, the things you eat, how hard you work at your job. To be aware and do nothing does not allow you to blame others for your problems.

Now I know most of us probably don’t think on a conscious level that the phrase “ignorance is bliss” is really true. But on a subconscious level, many of us live that way. Thinking everything is going well and when things get bad we wonder what happened. I hear phrases from people all the time like “One day my kids just quit listening to me and now they are totally out of control” or “Everything with our money was fine until that car accident and then the whole world seemed to crash in” or “Our relationship was awesome, and then out of nowhere she got angry and said I never listen and left.” Do any of these saying sound familiar to you? Have you said them, or heard them said? Do these kinds of things really happen overnight? These people could have spent more time learning about their situations before it was too late, and it all “went south.” But more Netflix, another doughnut, the newest video game, being the parent that is always in control, may have been more important than actually learning how to do such big, hard, adult things like being married, having a job, paying for your bills and saving for the future, or raising kids. So even though we may not say this out loud, often on a lower level of consciousness we live this out daily, thinking that if we stay in the dark, everything will work out okay. WRONG. We have to work hard at the things that are important to us. If we do not, we will lose those things, possibly forever. And the pain will be much worse than the work it would have taken to avoid the problems.

So don’t be ignorant, create your own bliss, and let the haters clean up their own mess in 5 years when they could have had so much better!

Matthew 25:23 (NIV)

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’

 

Do you want to take more charge over your life? Do you want to not be the ignorantly blissful individual headed for a train wreck in life? If you want to create your own version of bliss then subscribe to my free course here!!!

5 Ways to Survive This “Unsurvivable” Life!

When everything goes wrong, how do you not lose your head (figuratively, or literally) and just get things figured out? I have a number of young people that I work with on a regular basis, and it seems that at the ripe old age of late teen and barely 20 something, they have multiple midlife crisis a day! Needless to say, the drama is a little hard to handle at times and goes so far as to begin affecting their status as employees. Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Life happens, and the question is how do you live through things like a wrecked car, a bad roommate, or seemingly more bills than money, and come out on the other end without being broken, mad at the world, or convinced you will never make it out of the ramen noodle and paper plate stage of life? Here are a few tips.

1. Take a deep breath! Seriously, you need to take a deep breath. Breath in deep through the nose. Breath out slowly through your mouth. If you are so stressed that you can’t even take a breath, then you either need to get some serious immediate help, or you need to figure out how to get rid of some problems, like, yesterday!

2. Ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen?” and it can help put things in perspective, and maybe even help you come up with some creative options for solving the problem. If you have a roommate that is not paying their share of rent, you need to ask yourself “What is the worst possible outcome of this situation?” Well, you could end up on the street having to live in your car. Okay, so now what are you going to do about it? You have several options here. Kick out your roommate and find a better one. Find another place to live before getting evicted. Continue to pay the rent yourself and let them ride on your hard work. Now it becomes very simple. You decide which outcome you want to have happen, and you do it. This approach can be taken to almost any situation; it helps you gain perspective, and understand that usually the worst is not as bad as you think, or if it is really bad, there are almost always choices that you can make to control the outcome. The hardest part about this is that once you have thought this through, you are now responsible for what happens.

3. Don’t take responsibility for anyone but you. Most often when I see young people who are in a bad situation, they are either not taking responsibility for their own actions, OR they are trying to take responsibility for someone else’s stupidity, i.e. a friend is stupid and wrecks their car because of bad driving, or loses their license because of a DUI, or is late for preparing for a test. People put their own job, class test results, or ability to pay rent at risk, to “help” someone who is “down.” These “friends” are not going to learn if you work your butt off trying to remove the consequences of their stupidity by trying to take the punishment for their actions. As a matter of fact, you are helping them stay irresponsible. So go to work yourself and they can get their own ride. Pay your own rent and kick them out, and study for your own test, instead of helping them with theirs that they should have started sooner. At the end of the day they will complain about the world if you help them, or complain about you if you don’t help them. So don’t sacrifice yourself to the god of their stupidity. Let them LEARN from their mistakes, just like you did!

4. Don’t make excuses. So often when someone comes to me and wants to tell me about something that they are going through and how they don’t know what to do, etc., all they are looking for is someone to complain to. Please don’t come and complain to me, unless you are looking for solutions, because I am going to offer them. And then the truth comes out: they enjoy the drama. You know how I know? Because when a solution is provided, or the complainer is asked to think critically about how the problem might be solved or resolved, they make 101 excuses as to why they are the exception to every method of solving their problem. It is almost as though, if they didn’t have problems to complain about they wouldn’t know what to do with their lives. If someone gives you solution, stop trying to make it not work, and start making it work. The number one roadblock to problem solving is the person not really wanting the problem solved.

5. Give yourself a break. You need to realize that where you are right now, is where you are right now. Allow yourself to have made a mistake. You know what? You have learned what not to do next time. Expecting to have all the answers is like expecting a baby to know how to walk and talk when they are born. We don’t expect those things, because we know they have not had the experiences that give them the information they need to know how to walk or talk. How is being an adult any different? If you have never been in a tough relationship before, how can you already know how to handle it? If you have never had to juggle a job and class and hobbies and friend time, don’t you think it would be normal to have some scheduling conflicts that you have to work through and figure out? If you are new to a job, should you have all the answers to every customer question your first day, week, or even month? Give yourself the grace to live life and learn as you go. As long as you ARE learning, then you don’t have to feel bad about what you don’t know.

These are my top 5 tips to survive the unsurvivable, and come out smarter on the other side. If you do these things, you will be so far ahead of everyone around you, it will look like they are going backwards! I believe in what you are capable of, now go believe in who God made you to be and live it!

 

If any of this sounds like you or someone you know, and you want information and methods on how to implement these and other behaviors to lower stress, and see the light at the end of the tunnel, then click here to subscribe to my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams!

Commitment?

I wish I could have more time and money. I wish that I could travel more. I wish I liked my job. I wish life wasn’t so hard. I wish that I could have x, y, or z. Wishing will never get you anywhere, and your life is a picture of what you are committed to the most deeply.

 

So what does this look like, and if it’s true, then how committed should you be to getting the things you say you wish you could have? This is a big topic. Let’s try to break things down a little and deal with one piece at a time.

What does it mean that “Your life is a picture of what you are committed to?” It means that you are responsible for what your life looks like. If you don’t like your job, you have a couple of choices. You can change your attitude, or you can get a new job. If you don’t do one of these things, then you show that you are committed to being unhappy at work. If the job you have just doesn’t pay the bills, again you have choices. You can get another job, or you can find a way to get paid more where you are through more hours or getting more per hour, etc. If you don’t do one of these things, ultimately you are committed to being broke. If you are overweight, you can change your eating habits, and exercise (this works outside of absolutely obscure medical conditions) to get healthier. If you don’t do this and instead are just jealous, or insecure, you are committed to being overweight and unhappy. Bottom line, to change your results, you have to admit that your current results are your responsibility and a matter of your own choices and commitments.

I’m not trying to beat you down or discourage you if you’ve made some bad choices in the past. We all have. But to someone who is committed to growth, it’s empowering to realize that we’re the ones responsible for the results in our life – because when we realize that, we then have the ability to change the person in the mirror!

So if you are trying to change your circumstances, how far should you go? To what level should you be committed? Obviously, bank robbery is not a good option for changing your financial situation, and cutting off the fat with a knife, while taking a lot of willpower, would not be the best option for healthy weight loss. Trying to start up a new business and putting so much into it that you cannot feed your family would be wrong and selfish.

But what about the simple idea of hard work? The idea that when you are trying to change something for the better it will require effort? It’s okay to run into a road block or two, or three, or four, and keep pushing through. To realize that to accomplish things that are worthwhile you have to put skin in the game. If you want to start a business, create a new habit, get out of a toxic situation, then you can’t give up when it gets tough. Seek God’s guidance. Pray. Look at what you are doing. Ask questions. Often people think that if they encounter resistance it’s automatically a sign that they are going the wrong way.

So how do you know the difference between resistance and a sign of being in the wrong place? Asking the following questions should help.

Does what I am pursuing agree with my values?

Is what I am pursuing morally wrong?

Does my continuing in this direction cause harm to others?

Will achieving my goal result in my life, or someone else’s being improved?

Would I be willing to stop if a harmful, or wrong condition arose?

Asking these questions can help you determine whether or not you are really going the wrong way, or if you are going the right way and doing the right thing is hard sometimes. What you are putting effort into needs to line up with God, with your values, it needs to make you or someone else better, and it needs to be constructive. As long as it is meeting these criteria, then by all means continue, and learn from the struggle. Grow through the pains

As I wrap up, the answer here is that, as you are pursuing change, new directions, looking to start something better for life, remember that how far you go is something only you can answer. Consider advice from trusted people. But don’t give up easily because others get jealous and ridicule, or because it requires more effort than you originally thought. Being healthy requires discipline in eating habits. Getting strong requires hard work in the gym. Being a Christian who knows God requires study even when you don’t want to, or people say you are wrong.

Don’t ever give up on being better and keep asking questions! Don’t work blindly. Do work with purpose. Be committed to life!

 

Are you not sure what direction to go? Do you want to be committed to something, but don’t know what that looks like? Are you willing to commit to being better every day? If any of these sound like you, then take the first step toward learning, growing, and being better by taking my FREE course here!

Contentment or Complacency?

Is it possible to be content and want more? Does it make you greedy to be driven and desire to gain more out of life? Too often we think that contentment excludes drive, or we mistake complacency for contentment, and being driven for being greedy. We think that somehow if we want to be more than we are, or have more than we do, that we are selfish, greedy, materialistic, or arrogant. Often we use the excuse of not wanting to think too much of ourselves to get out of growing and to remain complacent, stagnant, and just generally lazy and drifting.

It is easier to criticize someone who has accomplished something and label them than it is to actually challenge ourselves to achieve something better.

Here is something to consider. It is generally thought that if you are driven you are greedy. And if you are greedy, you can’t be humble and are therefore a snob labeled as only out for themselves. Greed is greed. Drive is drive. Someone who is driven but not greedy can actually show great humility. Here is how: If they are always striving to be more, they have recognized that they have more to offer people, more to give, more to be, and they are dedicated to the pursuit of being that better person. They realize that they have been given a greatness that they are responsible for developing. Some people look at this idea of having greatness as being stuck up, but I feel that if someone can understand that they are made for more than they are right now, and that life is not about them keeping everything for themselves, but rather to be more so they can be more for others, that sounds like a very not stuck up person to me.

I try every day to be content. That is, to know and be comfortable with who I am. It is being comfortable with who I am that allows me to be more. You see, if I am not comfortable in my own skin, I will spend my life trying to make others happy. The problem with this? I will never be good at being them and achieving the things they think are the most important. And vice versa. I shouldn’t try to achieve all their goals. They shouldn’t try to achieve my goals. So I should be content being me, and that will allow me to be comfortable making myself a better version of who I am. So you see, being content isn’t mutually exclusive to wanting more, and wanting more does not make you a self-centered arrogant person with no regard for others. Quite the opposite may be true.

We should all want to be more, and when we see others who have achieved greatness, instead of ridiculing them out of jealousy, why not be inspired by them? Usually when we find fault with someone who is successful, it can be traced to wanting what they have, but not wanting to work for it. It’s easy to shrug off what you want and don’t have and label the person who has it as too ambitious or greedy. Wouldn’t it be better if we spent time trying to find our own greatness? You can have things that other people have, but you have to be willing to work for it. This starts with knowing that you don’t have to try to be them, or to be someone else that you’re not. Next, you need to be okay with saying “I have awesome in me, and I want to bring it out.” That statement is neither selfish nor arrogant. Then, you have to recognize that who you are is good (contentment), and being okay with that, you can work at making your talent a skill, a habit, or a tool (drive).

There is a vicious cycle that happens that tends to kill the whole ‘being better’ thing. It starts with our fictional character Marvin. Marvin grows up in a house being told he can have or be anything he puts his mind to. As Marvin gets older he works hard and sometimes gets the things he wants, and sometimes doesn’t. When he sees his friend down the street get a new car from his parents, he decides that he wants one too, but knowing his parents can’t afford it, he gets a summer job saving every penny he earns. For awhile. Then it begins to get hard. There are other smaller items to buy that he has money for. His motivation begins to fade, and not many people are around to help motivate him. His friend is already driving the dream car. Marvin’s parents tell him it is good for him to value what he gets so he should keep working. But no one helps him set up a timeline, game plan, or any other milestone for that matter. Then the point is reached where he is either inspired by something to finish, or he gives up. If he doesn’t reach his goal, he is left if not properly encouraged or coached to reach one of two conclusions: 1) he failed and is a failure, which doesn’t help his self worth at all, or 2) he reasons in his head that somehow he was cheated, and that it isn’t fair that the other kid got the car with apparently no effort. Rarely would someone at this point say to themselves “Cheerio, better luck next time.” On the other hand, in the scenario where he gets the car, he becomes the target of criticism from people jealous or insecure. Often in the first circumstance the idea of resentment begins to form, and out of seemingly nowhere, the idea begins that those with things that we have not been able to achieve either cheated, rode on the backs of others, or brown-nosed their way to the top. The reality is that most of the time this isn’t even close to being true. It takes hard work to achieve success, and even if you inherit success in the form of a family business, or fortune of some sort, it still takes work to maintain it. In the second circumstance, the path of success can become hard and lonely and may make young people who have succeeded in an area belittle their own achievements in an attempt to regain the approval of less successful peers.

To have more you have to expand your thinking to include more. You have to be open to contentment going hand in hand with improvement and drive. You have to know the difference between greed and motivation. And you have to understand that sharing success is not arrogance. It is inspiration. To be humble is not to resign yourself to mediocrity, but rather to recognize your potential for more, and be prepared to grow where needed.

With all of this out there, do yourself a favor. Be okay with being you. Be okay with becoming awesome. Share your success. Encourage and be inspired! Don’t be jealous, or hold grudges against success. Find someone who has become what you want to become, and do what they did. You can’t control what people think of you. It’s up to them if they choose to be inspired by your achievements, or choose to be jealous of what you have accomplished. Continue to share so that those needing a beacon of hope can see that light, and swim out of the ocean of mediocrity. Own it! Do it! Be Better!

Do you want to be more comfortable in your own skin? Do you want to have tools to be more? Do you want to learn more about yourself to better prepare for your future? Then subscribe here to take my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.

Avoiding the Kid Stigma: 5 Ways to Integrate Successfully into the Adult Professional World

How do I get the world to take me seriously? How do I make more than minimum wage? How do I actually get a job? Why won’t they promote me at work?

As someone who has been a leader and manager for multiple companies and in volunteer organizations I am often asked these questions. I am a young professional that has had to go through challenges around this topic. I have also interviewed hundreds of young people for jobs, been in charge of recruiting, training, promoting, and managing key positions in multiple companies and organizations, and I wanted to share some thoughts with young people about this issue.

If you are looking for an article that tells you that the world is out to get you and that they owe it to you to hear your opinion, you should read a different article. If you want me to tell you that if they would just give you a chance, you could show them, then you may have difficulty with this article. On the other hand, if you want to know how to get noticed, how to get hired, how to make more money, then I ask you to consider the contents of article.

First impressions – First impressions are huge! Don’t underestimate the impression you make in the first 15 seconds of interaction at a potential new job. I have interviewed hundreds of employees but have hired many less than that. While you want to have individuality and be ‘cool,’ you need to think about how you look, sound, and carry yourself. If you get a phone screening for a job and they tell you on the phone that appearance standards require you to be clean shaven with no facial piercings or visible tattoos, but then you show up to a face-to-face interview with a goatee, earrings, and a ghetto chain around your neck, I am going to wonder how serious you are about getting this job. Ladies, wear clothing that is tasteful and doesn’t reveal everything. 

Plain and simple, like it or not. How you dress is huge. The millennial generation and generation X individuals that I have interviewed have shown up in everything from shirt and tie, to a skirt slit up to the hip, to torn jeans and an oversize t-shirt that looked like it hadn’t been washed in three days and said “Ask me if I care.”

Next, make eye contact, firmly shake a hand that is offered, and speak clearly. You don’t impress me when you fidget in your seat, won’t look at me, and don’t know how to answer basic questions clearly. If you don’t want to be viewed and treated like a kid, don’t act like one. If you want to act like one, then don’t be surprised when your results reflect you attitude – mediocre. On the other hand, if you show up to an organization meeting, interview, or to meet with someone you wish to work for, dress neatly in clean, pressed, professional clothes, shake hands firmly like you mean it, make eye contact, and don’t mumble, you set yourself so high above the crowd that your chances of getting what you came for increase exponentially.

Achievement – You need to have achieved something for me to be interested in you as a prospect for anything. If you can’t achieve anything on your own initiative, then what does that tell me about your initiative at work or in this organization?  Actually achieve something in your life and know what it is, and how to talk about it. If you are 18 or 19 and your greatest achievement is that you helped your mom with chores on the weekends, or that you got a summer job, once, a couple years ago, I will probably write off your accomplishment as not valuable. On the other hand, if you bought your grades up at school through hard work, or you placed well in a sport, or you made a new personal best score in a sporting event or other type of activity that was a personal goal you made, then I will see you as someone who can set a goal and achieve it.

Want to work – This sounds crazy, right? Who WANTS to work? People who see that hard work produces good results. People like that don’t dread work for two reasons. One, they have probably found or are looking for something they enjoy doing. Two, they know that without work they will never have more than the success, time freedom, or money than they have now. Work can be a means to an end. It can also be an enjoyable activity. You need to find something about your job that you like and keeps you coming back. If you can’t find anything, then you must get a new job because you are cheating yourself, and will end up cheating the company out of your effort. Additionally, if you are in an interview and your reason for applying and interviewing for this job is “My  mom wants me to have a job,” then I know that you will not be invested and will probably put forth very little effort for me. Companies are in business to make a profit and if they don’t think you will produce for them, why should they hire you? If that sounds like evil company talk, then just remember that if companies didn’t make money, there would be no companies, and there would be no jobs. No jobs equals no money to pay you anything at all.

Once you have been hired and are working at a company, don’t complain about how much you are making, or ask for more, or complain about the work you are doing, unless you have a really good reason for why things should be different. “Because you think so” is not really a good reason. Put yourself in the seat of the company. Would you hire someone that you didn’t think would care when they came to work? Would you keep someone who hated working for you even though you are paying them a wage they agreed to work for? Would you promote someone because they complain about how little they make? Or would you promote someone because they go above and beyond on what you are currently paying them? Now, think about how your employer sees you and ask yourself why it matters whether you want to work. It matters to you because the less you want to work, the higher you are on the list of people to get rid of. So do yourself a favor and actually care about doing what you are getting paid for. And remember that at the end of the day, you agreed to the terms of the job. So it is actually your integrity that’s on the line!

Give 110% – It is really important that you work at work. That you put effort into what you do. Even if not everything you do is something you enjoy, people notice a good work ethic. Put yourself into the employer chair again. Even if you knew someone didn’t love what they had to do every day, but they worked hard anyway, would you give them a recommendation to another job? Would you consider paying them more? Would you be more likely to listen when they had comments about the job or environment? Now again consider how your employer looks at you. Are you coming into work ready to work? Are you showing up ready to do whatever the job demands? Or, when asked to do something, are you doing it grudgingly? Are you saying things like “I am not doing that for what I am getting paid”? As an employer I am not likely to hire or promote someone who is a complainer, hard to manage, or has to be told to work while at work.

Conduct yourself professionally – I often hear from young people that they wonder why they are not considered for management opportunities or promotions. But when you look at their conduct, they do things like tell stories about customers in the hearing of other customers, talk about drinking, getting drunk or other things not appropriate to a professional environment, or use bad language. On top of that, they are inconsiderate. Let me explain this one. If one of your managers comes to you and asks you not to talk about something, or to put your phone away, or addresses another behavior, and you respond with “Well, I don’t see why this is a problem,” you are showing your lack of listening, understanding, and an inability to handle authority. It is inconsiderate when you don’t consider others, and assume that everyone else should be okay with you talking about your night last night, how you got drunk over the weekend, or how hot you thought a customer was. Just because you don’t see the problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

When you are at work, don’t goof around, talk about questionable subjects, or let your dress get sloppy because you think it shouldn’t matter. You need to be able to take feedback, accept authority without constant challenging, and uphold the standards you agreed to uphold when you were hired. If you cannot do these things, you will not be given the authority to manage others under the same set of guidelines you so blatantly ignore.

These may sound harsh to some, and like no-brainer material to others, but if you want to hear it from someone who comes from among your generation, then take it from me. I am an example of someone who has been given a lot of responsibility at a very young age, and I do it by applying these principles at work and in life. Because of this, I manage many people my age and older, and a lot of people just barely younger. If you apply these concepts, you will light a rocket toward success.

 

If you are interested in more ways to be taken seriously, achieve more, and be more of a candidate for the jobs you want, then take my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams by clicking here!