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!!!

Seasons: What are they for?

It is winter. It is cold. I don’t know very many people who are stoked about it being so cold that water left in your car overnight will freeze, or the feeling you get when you can’t breathe because of the wind taking your breath away at 15 degrees. Most of us are ready for spring. But why are we really ready for spring? After all, when it gets here, everyone starts counting down to summer vacation. When summer rolls around everyone complains about the 95 degree weather and the no rain for weeks on end. Now everyone is ready for fall and football and cooler days. Then during fall we start counting down until Halloween, Thanksgiving, and finally Christmas (winter). Once Christmas is over we use New Year’s as the antidote to our post Christmas depression and then comes the long rest of the winter. So why do we fall into this circle every year, and how does it apply to life and success? Good question.

There is a saying that most problems can be solved with a little perspective. I would tend to agree with this to a large extent. In the situation of the winter being long, grey, and dismal, and spring being the golden ticket out, you may be missing some opportunities. Opportunities like, learning to appreciate the fact that life is constantly changing, and if it were always spring, Christmas would never come around again. It sounds a little weird, but being okay with where you are at times means that you realize how quickly things change from their current state, and it is important to soak up what you can about life right where you are before you lose that opportunity because you were too focused on something else like what came next. And maybe you aren’t ready for what is next, until you can learn about right now. In your emotional or spiritual winter. What are you learning about you? About God and how you view Him?  Next, when spring comes after a long winter, how much more do you appreciate the spring. How much better does it feel to be warm instead of shivering and all your muscles tight and cramped and your heating bill out of control. Without winter, you could not truly appreciate the blessings of spring!

This may sound a little to poetic and abstract, but to put it into more practical terms, when you are in a bad spot at work, at home, at church, are you just wanting everything to be hunky dory, or are you thinking to yourself, what can I learn about where I am to build my character and make others better? Or help them avoid some pitfall? Am I asking God to take away the pain before I have learned the lesson? If you are having trouble knowing how to handle money, will simply having more solve your problem? Now you may be thinking “but what about when I don’t have enough to eat or pay my bills? Am I supposed to learn from that and be happy?” Yes. I did not say that you can’t work toward something better. What I am saying is that if we cannot ever learn to be content, or to learn from right where we are, and build our character in the place you you are in right now, changing your circumstances will only leave you wanting more.

There is one answer to this question of how to use the winter, love the spring and enjoy a healthy anticipation of summer (sorry, metaphors again). You have to be willing to accept that who you are is not determined by your income, house, job, clothes, parents, spouse, kids, sports, social status, or anything else you can name. It is determined by God. When you accept that God made a crowning creation (you) and in order to redeem that creation He sent His only child to get you back, you can let go of the need to have more, to get to the next place, or be done with winter. Because wherever you are, it will be a season worth living. It may seem a little confusing. Learn to be content, but want more. It can look something like this: You don’t feel the need to impress others, because you are too busy serving God. But you also continuously strive to be even more of what God has already made you!

 

 

To begin your journey of learning how to use your seasons of life, click here for a FREE subscription to my course 14 Days to Stress Less and Achieve Your Dreams. Or if you would rather stay stressed out, and discontent you can dismiss this article, and not take the course and move on. After all it is your choice!

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!