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Be Very Aware; Choose What to Ignore

Let’s continue!

How about this: “Ignorance is bliss.”

Really? Why?

I think for most of my life I had assumed that ignorance is synonymous with unawareness. But I have come to think about it differently. Being unaware can be dangerous, costly, and stupid.

So in that vein let’s look at another aspect of focusing on what we want. And that looks like ignorance!

Let me explain.

Our minds are crammed. Crammed so full that we can scarcely understand the times we live in. The advent of the internet has allowed the spread and proliferation of ideas, both good and bad, globally and instantaneously. As cool as this is, an undisciplined approach to all of this information can cause us to be paralyzed in our decision making. We can make no progress on our goals and desires because there is new information and new choices every day. Sometimes I feel like my mind has been to the mental Golden Corral and not allowed to leave!  Cram, cram, cram.

Consider this… our brains are 50x more crowded than our parents’ brains.  Our parents’ brains are 50x more crowded than their parents’ brains. Simple math means our brains are 2500x more crowded than our grandparents’ brains. (Thank you to Seth Godin for these numbers. His daily blog is worth reading: Seth Godin’s Blogs)

See the problem?  Me too.

Knowing what to ignore is absolutely critical to your health and well-being, mentally, emotionally, physically and relationally. If we are ever to learn how to focus on where we want to go, we must recapture the subtle art of being ignorant, or of ignoring.

As I mentioned above, being ignorant is not to be confused with being unaware. I understand that Donald Trump is President. I understand that Nike likes Kapernik. I understand that North Korea is a real threat. I understand that uncertainty is everywhere present. I am aware of these things. But I am learning to ignore them. There are too many other important things to focus on. Like being in the water that takes us toward our goals. But I must confess that a reading of essentially any history book from any civilization from any time period will provide an understanding that uncertainty is not new.

Consider this quote:

“The earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents. Every man wants to write a book and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.” This is a translation of an Assyrian tablet from 2800 BC. Yes, you read that right. Some things never change.

So much of what is happening around us, after we are made aware, is worth ignoring.

One final story: A few years ago, probably closer to twenty, I read an article about artificial intelligence that I have never forgotten. IBM had created a machine that could play chess. When IBM thought they had a winner, they brought in world champ Gary Kasparov to play Big Blue. The outcome I don’t remember. But what I do remember is the comparison the writer of the article made between the decision making process of a machine and that of a man. What was described was a machine that could calculate several million scenarios in a fraction of a second. Pretty impressive calculating. For Mr. Kasparov, he could identify 3 in the same amount of time, all of which he knew would work. Mr. Kasparov had mastered not only chess, but also the art of ignoring. His disciplined mind allowed him the ability to disregard several million options. We would do well to learn to ignore.

So is ignorance bliss?

I say yes.



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