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!

 

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Why Do We Wait To Get Better?

Why do we wait to start change?

Does setting a starting date for being more responsible with money, eating right, or getting up early make it easier to start? Does waiting to forgive someone make it easier to reconcile? Do we need to wait for someone’s permission to value ourselves or take responsibility?

 

Change can be scary for a myriad of reasons, but instead of focusing on the fear, why not try looking at the results we are missing by not working to be better?

 

Recently I have had two friends unexpectedly pass away, a brother in a nearly fatal accident, and a brother and sister in law in a car-totaling accident. All of these events remind me that life only comes once, and it goes by so much faster than we think it does. It is important to maintain a balance between enjoying the current moment and working to make the next one better. Too often, we use the excuse that we are living in the moment to let ourselves out of improving ourselves.

 

Imagine living until age ninety and looking back realizing that the entirety of your life, you were afraid you had nothing to offer the world, and so you just lived day to day eating, sleeping, going to work, and being afraid of what people thought of you. Imagine if Michelangelo had never given the world the Sistine Chapel because he didn’t think he had anything to offer the world. What if Benjamin Franklin had not invented bifocals because he was afraid that if he failed people would think he was just a crazy old man? These men did things that they were uniquely capable of doing. So what makes you think that you have nothing to develop, or that if you have something, it is your right to keep it from the world?

 

While the things done by “great” people seem much bigger than managing your time, controlling your weight, or learning to be confident in yourself, it all starts somewhere. It starts with trial and error. It starts with discipline and failure. It starts in the very beginning with knowing that you are worth your own effort! You are worth changing for the better. It is good, great, and profitable for you to focus on yourself, developing what you have, so you can then in turn develop others.

 

To go back to the question about why change is scary, it usually boils down to people either being afraid they are not worth putting in the effort to change themselves, or they are afraid that others won’t like them anymore if they work hard at being the best versions of themselves.

 

Don’t let fear of failure or of others cheat the world out of the greatness that God created in you! Be brave. Work hard. Change!

 

If you are tired of waiting, sick of letting life go by you and want to start the change in your life, then click here to take my easy, FREE course! Don’t wait for the right time! Make the time!

Do You Know Why You Get up in the Morning?

Why do you live life? What drives you? Do you live just trying to make it to tomorrow? Do you live only thinking that if you make it to tomorrow maybe life will be better? Do you live in the past thinking that best has already come and gone and now life is misery until it ends?

These are questions that I think we have to ask ourselves if we ever intend to make real change in our lives, or have any real joy. Think about it. When someone becomes a Christian their focus changes to living a life of obedience to Christ and a hope of eternal life. When a great athlete such as Lou Gehrig, or recently Tom Brady, plays, they are playing from passion, either for the game, or for someone they care about. It drives them. When someone starts a new small business they put in a lot of effort and really pour their energy into it. If you were to talk to these people right after change took place, or while they were getting started, or while they were working hard at being the best, I would bet that you would see someone who gets up in the morning learning from the past to shape the future.

I have worked with hundreds of young people over the last few years, and want to share two examples. There is a young man I know of 28 who does not have plans for the future. When he comes to work, his life consists of trying to make enough money to pay bills. He is working for tips. This leads to stress and a great deal of job dissatisfaction that comes out almost daily. He gets upset about how much people underneath him make. He gets upset about how much other positions in his workplace make. He complains about the hours. And yet, he is not actively looking to change his position by leaving his current job and getting a different one that is a better fit, pays more, or just “appreciates him more,” like he claims to want. Why? Because he has trapped himself. He has a four year degree, workplace experience, and a great mind. But he won’t think bigger picture.

On the other end of the spectrum is a young man working at the same place, same pay, same workplace responsibilities. But he wants more out of life. He hasn’t even fully formulated what that looks like, but he knows that for anything to be different he has to want it first. To look for it. To seek what his different and better looks like. In the time I have known him he has gained control of his money, begun to resolve some relationship issues with his parents, and gained leadership experience that will help him for the rest of his life.

The difference between these two young men? Perspective. Purpose. Wanting something more. And, interestingly enough, you have to not be so self-centered that you don’t take care of yourself. The first young man is so focused on how he feels he is being wronged at work, that he is letting time and opportunity pass him by. The second young man is more focused on being his best self and helping others in a way that he will have unlimited opportunities open to him.

If you want a different life you need to think beyond the problems of today. You need to put something in front of you that you’re passionate about and meant to live for. When you do that, it’s a whole lot easier to get up early, to work hard, to stay focused, to say ‘no’ to distractions. You can be a lot more fulfilled and happy when you know that each day you get up is a day that matters. A day to help someone, a day to make yourself the best version of you yet, or a day to inch closer to a realized dream. When you’re just living to get through the day, it’s a sign of insecurity, dare I say selfishness, and an unwillingness to let go of your problems long enough to grasp something better. It may sound harsh, but often misery is self inflicted. Living for something that gives you purpose, looking to be better, makes the here and now matter more. It’s easier to be content when you know that life isn’t about surviving another moment. It’s about making your moments count. What are YOU living for?

 

If you want to begin the journey towards discovering your purpose, click here to take my FREE course, 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams.

Stress: Is it a Choice or a Circumstance?

Why do we stress? What is it that makes a person happy, or not? This is something I have been pondering over the last few weeks. Building off of observation from years of working with young people, middle aged people, people in careers, and adding in my own experience and studies, I’ve put together a few thoughts that have helped me with this issue.

I think at times the answer can seem complicated, but usually, it’s a simple, but difficult to admit answer: You are only a victim of circumstances you create. Let me explain. As I think back to something that happened to me a couple of years ago, being able to see things differently would not have changed the circumstance at the moment, but it would have had a great effect on how I viewed the world for the next few days, AND how easy I was to live with. What happened was that on my way to work at 6:00 a.m. I pulled to an empty three-way stop intersection, came to an almost complete stop, and then continued through the intersection. The instant I went through the intersection a police officer that had been hiding pulled me over, wrote me a ticket, and had no response when I asked if pulling me over was a matter of safety, or law. The next few days I was stressed, mad, unhappy and frustrated that I was the “victim” of a force being used to hide and catch people to generate revenue. I came up with all sorts of things in my head that I wished I could say to the officer, and stressed about how big the ticket would be, or how it would affect my insurance. Another area of stress was that I also worked for a company that pulled driving records annually, and had been hired by them only a few short months prior to this. I was not any fun to deal with for awhile.

The reality was that if I had been able to see out three months from that event, I would have been able to see that I still had a job, my insurance had not been affected, and even if it had, it was my responsibility since I made the decision to roll the stop sign, and life continued on. It did not end that early November morning when I got my first ticket.

The first key to being happier and less stressed is to take responsibility for your circumstances. By realizing that the things that happened to me were a result of my own actions, then I could make a choice to change things. I could have chosen not to roll the stop sign to start with. I could have chosen not to drive that road. After I got pulled over, I could have chosen simply to learn from the situation rather than get mad. At first, I tried to say that what happened to me was the policeman’s fault for pulling me over, the city for having those laws, or that I wished I could change things I couldn’t change. I ended up mad, stressed, and had a very negative effect on those around me until I saw what stressing over things I couldn’t change was doing.

This brings me to the second key. Change what you can. Let go of what you can’t. This is preached by hundreds of people; it’s not new news. It is hard to practice, though. If you aren’t willing to let go of the things you cannot control, you are affirming your commitment to being unhappy, and blaming your circumstances for your attitude. You are actually choosing to be stressed and unhappy. You are making the choice to allow others and their opinions, or your surroundings control you. Again, this is your choice. You may not be able to control if someone close to you passes away, or if your house gets flooded, or if someone thinks you will always be a failure.  What you can control is how you respond. You can choose to see yourself differently, the way God sees you! You can choose to look down the road to where you could be and make the choice to head there, and not stay where you are.

That is the third key: You have to see beyond. When you’re caught dealing with the bad day, the terrible boss, the speeding ticket, the broken down car, I would challenge you to look back and see how many tough things you have gone through that you thought in the moment that your life was at its worst, and you couldn’t figure out a solution for the life of you. And yet here you are on the other side of that situation! You have eaten, had a place to live, maybe even have had a friend or two along the way. If you look at things this way, it’s easier to think more clearly, and not be overwhelmed by the moment, day, or even week you are in right now. Life will always happen. What are you going to choose to do with it?

So you see, being happy is not about others treating you a certain way, or the job you are currently in. Lowering stress is not about your current circumstances suddenly vanishing and everything seeming to be fixed magically before your eyes. It is about you choosing to see life differently. Making choices that take you from where you don’t want to be, to where you do want to be. And remember, you have to be thankful for the people and things you experience. It is essential. It allows you to learn when it’s hard, to grow when there is a challenge, and to rest when you have achieved a goal. You have to be thankful. Which, interestingly enough, is also a choice you must make.

Be responsible. Change what you can. See beyond right now. It’s easier to see growth looking backwards than forwards. May God bless you as you seek to be more joyful and happy as one of His amazing creatures!

 

Do you want to be in charge of your circumstances? Do you want to stop being controlled by those around you? Do you want to learn how to change your own situation? Then click here to lower stress levels and gain control in simple daily steps!

Do You Really Want to be Disciplined?

Discipline. It’s one of those things we all claim to want, but at the end of the day, we end up reverting to our old habits. We end up falling short of our goals. What is the key to staying on task? Thinking bigger picture!

How do people get up at 5 or 6 every morning? Is it because they are just “morning people?” How does someone say no to sugar when they decide to eat better? Is it because they just no longer like sugar? How does someone stay with a project for months, or even years, continuing to work on it before they see results? Is it because they just have nothing else to do?

It can be easy to see someone succeeding at something and to simply say “Oh, they must have a special power, or something.” The truth is that they don’t have anything more than you do, except practice and a long-term picture.

So, how do you get from where you are today to that person who is disciplined, dedicated, and motivated? I will warn you that there is a fairly simple answer, but not an easy one, or one that is a magic pill where suddenly your brain never wants anything but success. It is a conscious effort that you have to make daily.

Becoming disciplined starts with recognizing that you always do what you want. If you sleep late, then what you really want to do is sleep more than getting up early. If you eat donuts instead of just nuts, then you really want the donut more than you want to be healthy. Unless you are willing to admit that you don’t do anything you don’t want to do, you won’t take responsibility and you will see yourself as a helpless victim. You will sabotage your own success because you will tell yourself “I really want to be healthy, but I just CAN’T resist this donut.” When you admit that you wanted the donut most, you can decide that you have control over what you want, and you can change it if you don’t like it. When you take responsibility, you give yourself power to be in charge. Now you can use that power. This is probably the hardest part of change which leads to success.

Discipline is simply a result of taking charge of your choices, and making the choices that give you what you really want. As I was working at building my morning routine and getting up early every day, I saw that if I didn’t have something specific that I was going to do when I got up, I struggled to get out of bed when I thought I wanted to, and some days I slept in. I had to decide the night before when I went to bed what specifically I was going to do when I got up the next morning. That way when I woke up I would tell myself, “If I get up and do this task, then I can go back to bed,” knowing that if I could get myself out of bed, and open my computer to write, or to read, that I would be winning the hardest part of the battle: getting out of bed. Not getting out of getting up by reasoning with myself why I needed more sleep. Then once I was up, I would rarely go back to bed. It wasn’t that hard to stay up, because I had already committed to an action and didn’t want to lose my progress.

The key to this equation is reminding yourself of what you are gaining by following through on the choice you have already made. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to do, and how that will make you feel versus how you feel when you fail. If you are trying to lose weight and find yourself tempted by ice cream, remind yourself of how you will feel tonight if you give in, even though you want to in that moment. How will you feel tomorrow, or next week, when you haven’t been able to meet your weight loss goal? Is having an ice cream cone now really worth the feeling of failure you’ll have when you look back on today? Think about the difference in cost; it’s just not worth it. It would be like taking $100 bribe from someone to lose a game so you can buy an Xbox, and not caring that it could ruin your career in sports.

Think beyond your current moment. That is what discipline is. It isn’t  some magical power that a chosen few have obtained. Discipline is making it through this moment by reminding yourself of what your actions will add up to if you do them for a week, a month, or a year, and basing your choices on that. If the choices you make today produce the only results you are allowed to experience for the next year, what choices would you make today? Would you work harder at your job? Would you make it a priority to work out today? Would you skip the burger and soda and instead save your money and eat at home? That’s discipline.

You have the power to choose. You are not a victim of your circumstances. What you do today creates your tomorrow. No one can tell you what kind of success your discipline can create. It’s up to you! Now what are you going to do about it?

 

Have you done some self-examination and found your discipline to be sorely lacking? Don’t beat yourself up about it – we all need help sometimes! But you can make tomorrow better than today. My FREE COURSE 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams can help you plan your day to accomplish those things you really want to be doing. Click here to start today!

Busy, or Purpose-Driven?

Is there a difference in being purpose-driven and being busy? How do we stay purpose-driven in all of the busyness of life? How do you manage the urgent so meaningless tasks don’t run your life?

Let me ask you a few questions. At the end of each day when you crash into your pillow, how do you remember your day? Do the words hectic, long, stressful or unfulfilling come to mind? Or do you look back with satisfaction and have feelings of accomplishment, purpose, achievement and (yes, even for you tough guys out there) love and joy as you drift off to sleep?

No one has a perfect day every day, but if we look back over the last few days, weeks, or even years, we see a pattern. When we wake up in the morning, is it another day to survive? Or is it another day to bring us closer to a goal we have and see what we can accomplish today?

Focusing your thoughts in the right direction isn’t always easy. There seems to be so many thought groups out there that they get mixed together like so many berries in a blender. But there are three general schools of thought that tend to drive us each day.

First is the survival mode, and that comes down to “What do I have to do today to cause myself the least amount of pain until the day is over?”

Second is the mindset that life is comprised of achieved goals. “I am not happy until I get there.” Usually this involves the “Once I reach this goal I will be happy” idea which almost anyone could argue will never be true. It’s an age-old concept that getting somewhere only makes you want to go somewhere else.

Third, that life is more about the journey than the destination. The best version of the third school of thought is “I am driven to be more, but am be content with the growth and blessings I have been experiencing.” Be careful, though! This group of thought can have its drawbacks if not properly used. It can become a twisted version of thought group one, except that now there is no drive to survive. Instead, it looks like “I don’t care if I survive today because life’s one big journey that won’t ever have an end.”

When I asked the questions at the beginning I wanted you to take a deep look into your motivations and decide for yourself how they are, or are not, helping you. You need to have a purpose for getting up in the morning, a reason for rolling out of bed when others are still in bed staring at the backs of their eyelids. At the same time though, if your goals consume you, then your driver will always be achieving something you don’t have, and that will lead to a great sense of dissatisfaction and resentment, even when you pursue your goals with the best of intentions. That will rob you of joy in your life. Life has to be a steady pace, a marathon of growth. You should be able to ask yourself every day “How did I make myself or someone else better today” and be content with the answer to that question. Being busy for its own sake, or feeling discontent at the end of each day because you survived without living is a quick way to spend a lifetime you can’t reclaim on things you will regret. Find a purpose. Enjoy the journey. Be someone’s good today.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:10-13

I don’t think anyone could argue that Paul was not purpose-driven, or even that he did not stay busy. But what you also saw in him was an ability to be content and simultaneously make people better, while shooting for the goal of heaven and bringing people to Christ with the efforts of his life!

We should all seek to be driven by purpose, content to grow.

 

If you’re interested in how to find balance in life and how to live purposeful days, click here to sign up for my FREE course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams! Here you will learn how to be honest with yourself, how to manage your time, to set and achieve goals and more!