Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t know about so many problems?
It feels like the more you know, the more problems you encounter in your day to day life. You have your own personal problems to attend to, problems in your local environment and problems that seem to affect the world.
With all these problems affecting your life, it can give you a large amount of frustration and stress. It makes you think back to a time where you didn’t have to deal with as many problems, and you were happier. After all, you didn’t have to worry about things you didn’t know about.
That’s why phrases like “ignorance is bliss” are so popular and everyone thinks about it from time to time. We love happy times, because they make us feel good about ourselves and our future. No one wants to live in a world where problems make us unhappy.
What makes you happy? When you don’t have many problems to worry about, and the future looks great.
In order to not have many problems in your life, you should do your best to avoid learning about new problems, so you only have simple problems to deal with, and life will be great!
Unfortunately, that’s the wrong way to approach the problems in your life.
Yes, life does seem wonderful when you have fewer problems, or when the problems have simple solutions.
However, just because you choose to deliberately ignore problems or pretend that they don’t matter doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy.
At best, the happiness will last a short time before the reality of your situation catches up to you.
You want happiness, but you want happiness that lasts. Happiness that comes from ignorance rarely ends up being the solution you want.
The only sustainable way to happiness is learning more about your problems, being aware of new problems and doing your best to solve them.
It’s not the most enjoyable solution, that’s true, but:
Not Knowing About Your Problems Doesn’t Mean They’re Not There
The principle behind “ignorance is bliss” is the phrase “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”.
It sounds nice at first, because if you don’t know about problems that are affecting you, it probably wasn’t serious enough to affect you in the first place.
Unfortunately, your lack of knowledge about a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there. Awareness is not related to existence, a fact which people tend to forget. This means a problem could be affecting you, but you have no way of knowing what is hurting you, and why you’re not successful.
When I was job searching as an international student in the United States, I wasn’t aware of how little I knew about interviewing. I thought I knew everything and wasn’t at all concerned about potential problems in my techniques as I never knew they were there.
I was sharply brought back to reality when I failed a few potential internship opportunities, opportunities that could have put my future in a different direction. Realizing what my problems were was painful and humiliating, but they would still be there even if I wasn’t aware of them.
The only difference was my ignorance of the problems meant I was being hurt by something I didn’t know about. Realizing them meant they still hurt, but I knew what I could do about them.
Problems don’t choose to affect people based on how aware they are. Even people who are fully aware of the problems can still be hurt by them.
If you do know what problems are affecting you, they might hurt, but you get the power of choice.
It’s the power of choice that decides whether you want temporary happiness or true bliss.
Ignorance Leaves Your Happiness In The Hands Of Fate
Choice is an amazing thing. Having the ability to choose things in your life is a great feeling, because it means that you control the direction that your life takes.
You can only have choice in your life if you choose to not only be aware of problems, but choose how you handle them.
To be fair, there are going to be problems which you cannot change despite your efforts to do something about them. But that also doesn’t mean you have to be helpless in the face of overwhelming odds.
If you don’t know about the problems that impact your life, you put yourself at the mercy of fate. If something good happens, you won’t see much change. But if something bad happens, you won’t be able to respond the way you would like.
After all, if you don’t know (or choose not to know) how a problem is affecting your life, you won’t be know how to respond when a problem finally impacts your life.
When I came back to Australia after my failure to find a job overseas, I did manage to find a job in my home city of Melbourne. My initial thought was that I was going to get a job and it was stable.
I hadn’t ever thought about the threat of unemployment, nor what I would do if I was ever unemployed after getting a job. I had already spent eight months after graduation unemployed, and didn’t think I’d be unemployed so soon.
Unfortunately, my first job lasted three weeks, and I was unemployed again. It took me a month and a half to find another job that looked more stable, but was then laid off after six months.
Being unaware of how painful unemployment was, or how to deal with it took a big toll on my physical and mental health. I also struggled to deal with it, mainly because I never knew that I would be unemployed so quickly, or how damaging the effects were.
My recovery from unemployment was largely at the hands of fate, because I only knew one way out, which was finding a job. I knew nothing about the effects, duration or help because I had been ignorant about unemployment.
After finding a stable job, I learned how to prevent the damages of being unemployed from ruining my life again, and what I could do to make sure that I was in control even if the worst has happened.
It’s never fun to suddenly be thrown into a situation that hurts you, emotionally or physically. Because it’s so sudden, it hurts more because you never expected it.
If you take the time to learn about problems or information that may affect you, you stand a better chance at recovering and taking control of your happiness.
Will it be fun to take your happiness into your own hands? Probably not. But it’s more preferable than if I told you that you wouldn’t be able to decide your happiness because you didn’t know what would affect it.
Ignorance Makes It Hard To Change Your Life
Ignorance might let you avoid thinking about any issues that could potentially cause you problems. But you must also remember that if you are that unaware about problems that could affect you, you are also unaware of ways to potentially make your life better.
You always have many ways of changing your life for the better, but each path you choose will have its share of problems, ones that you can’t be ignorant of if you choose to improve your life in that manner.
It’s not possible to continue being ignorant of the world around you to maintain your happiness, yet expect any significant changes in your life to occur without encountering a single problem. There are very few experiences in life that allow for great change without any problems.
The road to improving yourself isn’t going to be painless, and there will be times where you wish that you should have taken another direction. But it’s because you learn how problems impact you, and because you give up temporary bliss that you actually achieve true happiness.
On my journey to start my own business through my website, I wasn’t aware of a lot of challenges that I would encounter. There was a lot to do in terms of writing, design and general functionality. I even had to learn about the importance of several tools, such as newsletters and emails.
Every time I learned something new, I was exposed to the fact that I was painfully unaware of how to create a proper website, let alone an actual business. There were many times I was so discouraged that I thought it might be easier to walk away from everything and thrive in the corporate grind.
As time passed and I gave myself time to rest, I started to realize that every problem I was encountering was a problem that would bring me closer to my goal if I could solve it. Being aware of my problems encouraged me and motivated me.
I was feeling a happiness that stayed with me for a long time. My awareness meant that I was closer to succeeding, something I couldn’t have achieved if I did my best to not know about the problems I inevitably had to face.
Almost everyone wants their life to improve, and take control of the direction they want their life to go. In order to do that, you have to open your eyes and start seeing the problems that can make your life miserable.
A temporary loss of ignorant bliss is worth the extended happiness achieved by facing your problems.
Short Bliss Or Long Term Happiness?
I understand that in life, there is information that wouldn’t hurt you if you never knew about it.
This can be personal knowledge such as betrayal of a close friend, or problems that affect your local community like unemployment due to a sudden recession.
A lot of people say that it is better for you to never know, because it’s information that would just upset you and make you unhappy when you don’t have to be.
But to me, looking away from that information doesn’t change the fact that it’s making an impact on your life. Just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. A lack of knowledge will also mean that when you eventually face the facts, you might be devastated and unable to react.
There will always be topics that you will be ignorant about, but rather than embracing the fact that you’re happy because you don’t know, I think you need to start thinking about how you can be happy because you know.
You can’t run from problems just because you don’t know they are there. But you can deal with them if you are aware of their existence.
Only by facing your problems and dealing with them will you actually feel happy, and realize that you don’t have as much to worry about as before.
That, in my opinion, is bliss worth pursuing.
Do you think ignorance is bliss, or is it not the happiness you want?
Victor Tan writes to helps people overcome their weaknesses to be a better public speaker. He does this by helping people with self-improvement and teaching them proper speaking techniques. You can find him at his website, Spirit On Stage, Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of geralt.