Ignorance is Bliss, or Is It?

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We know this saying all too well “Ignorance is bliss.” but is this really true? Many people believe they can’t be hurt by what they don’t know.

Considering how certain people chose to ignore the news to improve mental health,  how investors dread checking their stock portfolio on days when the market is down, or acknowledge how most of us have had one of those heart-stopping moment of dread before checking our account balance.

Really, does that make our financial situation any better?

we might consider, in a way, it’s a reasonable tactic to manage stress. (But certainly not the best).

So, if we often avoid learning information that could cause us pain—is it true that ignorance is bliss?

Not really. Looking in today’s digital age, we can learn about our ancestral ties and genetic predispositions with a simple swab of saliva. We can run genetic tests on our unborn children to prepare for the worst, yet there’s some information everyone would rather not know.


A study shows how participants in a laboratory experiment chose to let go of a portion of their earnings to avoid learning the result of a test for a treatable sexually transmitted disease. Such avoidance was even greater when the disease symptoms were much worse.

Similarly, people who forgo learning certain information related to their health even if having such knowledge would help them to identify therapies to manage their symptoms or treatment—this is where to draw the line between what is acceptable as  bliss and what’s not.

A fool lives in his paradise

Idiom phrases like this had often been used to depict the blissful life of people who lack knowledge and realistic assessment of matters being popular in many cultures. They’re also usually used to express the tranquillity enjoyed by deluded and uninformed individuals.

On one hand, ignorance of facts could spare us much anxiety and also deludes us to a happy approval of inherently dangerous situations. On the other hand, knowledge opens our eyes to the flotsam and jetsam of life and their resistance to reasonable solutions.

It may be true that– by spending no time time learning more and challenge ourselves, we risk becoming entrenched in our ideas and never fully understanding the bigger picture.

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Ignorance can lead to a lack of empathy and compassion for others, which creates a hostile and divided society.

The silver lining is in staying informed without becoming overwhelmed.

Although, it’s our own responsibility to make sure that we’re doing our part to understand the world around us, and globally. Even better, doing this by strategically focusing on what matters, which we’ll throw more light on in the following section.[/su_note]

Selective Ignorance: What You Should Know

Let’s face it, we live in a world of options. More choices seem like a good thing, but they can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. But what if I told you that the key to success is to close most doors and be intentionally oblivious?

But here’s the thing, not all choices are created equal. Some choices are just endless rabbit holes that lead to nowhere. 

Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls it the paradox of choice. We assume that more options mean better decisions, but actually, it can lead to decision fatigue and FOMO (fear of missing out). You’re constantly looking over your shoulder and second-guessing every choice you make. No wonder you’re stressed out!

That’s where strategic ignorance comes in. It’s not about being closed-minded, it’s about knowing what you should and knowing that you can easily get swayed or derailed by all the noise and distractions around you. So instead of trying to keep the door open to every possible option, you need the discernment and confidence to close most doors so you can focus on what really matters.

And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of noise out there. From the news media to the trolls on Instagram or Twitter, there are plenty of distractions that can throw you off course. But successful and creative people know how to be selectively ignorant. They create an environment that shields them from the distractions and negativity while staying informed on the topics they care about.

So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choices in the world, remember that you don’t have to keep every door open. Sometimes the best decision you can make is to close the doors that are leading you nowhere and focus on what truly matters. 

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A Look into Famous and successful People Who Practice Selective Ignorance and Seem to Have Reap the Most Reward Out it:

Peter Diamandis: Diamandis, an expert on entrepreneurship and innovation, has stopped watching TV news to shield himself from distractions and negativity.

J.K. Rowling: The author of the Harry Potter series has said that she avoids reading reviews of her books, in order to protect her writing process and avoid getting distracted by other people’s opinions.

Seth Godin: Godin, a popular author and speaker, no longer reads the comments on Amazon about his books to avoid negative feedback.

Jason Fried: Fried, the founder of Basecamp, intentionally avoids being influenced by external factors so that he can focus on his work and goals.

Warren Buffett: Buffett famously avoids using email and social media to avoid distractions and stay focused on his investments.

Mark Zuckerberg: The founder and CEO of Facebook has been known to wear the same gray t-shirt every day to reduce the amount of time he spends making decisions about what to wear.

John Paul DeJoria followed suit in the same wardrobe trick. It’s no surprise why billionaires tend to wear the same attire routinely. They do so to avoid what’s called decision fatigue, a phenomenon where the ability to make choices decreases as the day progresses and your energy levels deplete. By sticking to a certain uniform, they eliminate the need to make another decision and conserve their energy for more important tasks.

These people all recognize the importance of creating an environment that shields them from distractions and negativity so they can focus on their priorities and goals.


Closing Thoughts

One of the books I’ve come to cherish is one of Johann Hari’s specials, Stolen Focus. This book delves into why our ability to pay attention is collapsing.

The author combines personal experiences with research in neuroscience, psychology, and social sciences to argue that our focus has been stolen by the information and social environments we live in.

Hari covers twelve different ways that our environment robs our attention and provides some useful tips on how to get our focus back. Another interesting point he makes is that multitasking doesn’t actually exist, and our brain lies to itself by saying that it can focus on multiple things at once. I found this book to be an eye-opener and a refreshing take on the subject of concentration. Highly recommend it.

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In the age of endless information, you’re either going to be able to to cut through the clutter or get caught up in the noise–and that’s what mess with your productivity.

It takes guts to say, “I’m going with this decision, and I’m closing the door on everything else right now.” But if you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to create an environment that shields you from distractions and and too trivia information.

As a rule, being “selectively ignorant” is the idea of  Ignoring topics that drain your attention, unfollow people that aren’t in sync with your intrests, projects, even some so-called experts, that drain your energy, and so on.

You don’t have to keep up with it all. In fact you can’t keep up with everything. The more you say no to things that are irrelevant, the more knowledgeable and productive you can become.

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