Why you should go from blissful ignorance to becoming self-aware in life


Kevin Mangelschots

We all come into this world with our eyes closed, but we must learn to open our eyes if we want to deal with the harsh reality of life.

While blissful ignorance has its perks, I still believe that becoming painfully self-aware is beneficial, although the road toward enlightenment can be brutal and agonizing.

Let me explain why I think that all people should try to become aware, and why willful blindness will lead to problems down the road.

Going from blissful ignorance to willful blindness

Image of the negative power of willful ignorance.

A child starts its life blissfully ignorant. They see the world as a playing field, living in their little fantasy world. A protected cocoon, so to speak.

All they see is friendly smiles from both other children and adults if the child is well-behaved. At this point, they have little regard for all the evil and chaos that goes around in existence. And the world can be a nasty place.

Almost every parent tells their child that they are perfect just the way they are and can become whatever they want to become in life when they grow up. Perhaps parents mostly say this since they think, or want to believe, that their child is special since they have such a strong connection with their offspring.

A sign reading “nobody is perfect”.

This is of course not entirely true, seeing as nobody is perfect. There are a lot of things, such as personality traits and IQ, that ultimately decide what our potential truly is. Our ceiling, so to speak. But it’s hard to remain blissfully ignorant forever.

When we get older, we tend to get a more accurate version of reality because we get to see the world more for what it truly is. Probably due to the maturation of our brain, which develops well into adulthood, and due to getting wiser with age. We also gain valuable life experiences, which are regularly disguised as painful lessons.

We see that earth is a place where wonderful things happen, but also where a lot of pain and suffering is continuously going on. Tragic occurrences like deaths, loss of jobs, falling out with friends, and the end of loving relationships among many other negative experiences.

Cognitive dissonance illustration.

Logically, this creates a huge clash between our previous thought process, where everything in life was so-called perfect and good, and our current mindset which sees the negatives and misery as well. This friction between our previous and current belief systems causes pain and tension in our lives. That’s the result of these conflicting thoughts and ideas that cause cognitive dissonance.

The most appropriate way to solve cognitive dissonance is to respond by becoming aware and incorporating this new information about the world into a new set of beliefs and values. By creating a transformed, more true version of reality.

But not everyone has the courage and willpower to become self-aware. We can also respond by being, and remaining, willfully blind by putting our heads in the sand. We can continue acting like these bad things do not happen.

Image of three monkeys with the left one covering his mouth, the middle one covering his eyes, and the right one covering his ears indicating willful blindness.

Of course, this way of behaving will still cause a lot of pain because we know that something’s not right, and because our actions constantly collide with our contrasting belief systems. It’s very hard, if not outright impossible to unsee the truth once we’ve laid eyes upon it indeed.

I would say that willful blindness is much worse than ignorance. Why you ask?

Because ignorant individuals don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t realize that they’re wrong about the thing they’re talking about since they’re simply too arrogant and uninformed to realize.

But purposeful ignorance means knowing that they’re wrong, yet deciding to ignore the facts and thus, the truth, anyway. That’s much worse since it reeks of cowardice, fear, and overall weakness.

Ignorant people in life

Illustration of the quote, “Not knowing the truth doesn't make you ignorant, not wanting to know the truth is what makes you ignorant” written on a black background.

Very few people remain unenlightened during their lives, even though we all start as ignorant children.

Most people have the capacity for self-analysis through introspection and by observing their surroundings. That is if we decide to apply ourselves and make up our mind to aim at the objective truth.

Yet, blissful ignorance can still be a thing, even when we’re already well into adulthood. We might be so oblivious to all the bad stuff that’s going on around us that we only see the positives.

The quote, “in the age of information, ignorance is a choice” written on a black background.

Truly ignorant people are impervious to their surroundings and don’t fully understand the true meaning and depth of things. This might seem like bliss because “how can things be bad when you can only see the good”, for example.

Nevertheless, this so-called bliss is also a curse in disguise. Since your delusional and ignorant view of the world and yourself will undoubtedly clash with other people’s views and personalities. It can even lead to making bad decisions that have disastrous results.

What’s even worse is that some ignorant people might not, or even never, understand why they are clashing with different people about these views. Which means they are doomed to endless friction without ever understanding why. This will cause a lot of suffering and make it very hard for them to achieve their dreams and become successful.

Willful blindness in life

Image of a man wearing a blindfold over his eyes, with the word “ignorance” written on the blindfold.

Most people aren’t ignorant, they’re simply willfully blind. This means that they rather “bury their head in the sand” instead of facing the sometimes unpleasant truths. People believe what they want to believe indeed.

People who are purposefully ignorant typically try to ignore the problems by telling themselves that there are no issues, or by rationalizing why they aren’t doing anything about these troubles. Even though they would be fixable if they decided to put in some effort, time, and sacrifices.

Willful blindness is the easy way out for people who don’t want to take the hard road and don’t want to forgo anything in the short term such as hard work, or putting in the needed time.

Image of multiple people in suits being blindfolded, indicating that they're willfully blind.

Nevertheless, even though it might seem that the folks who don’t do anything to solve their problems don’t sacrifice anything in the short term, they do in the future. They will inevitably get feelings of anxiety, insecurity, doubt, and even stress since these issues keep existing.

Not addressing concerns as soon as they arise allows them to snowball out of control until they’re so big that they seem insurmountable. That’s precisely why we need to tackle them when they’re still manageable.

Self-awareness in life

Illustration of a man with a tree growing out of its brain, signifying self awareness.

Self-awareness is the state every human being should strive to attain.

In this condition, we are conscious that life itself is hard, and that suffering is a big part of it. However, we also acknowledge that there are genuinely good people who actively try their best to make the world a better place.

It also means that we value the truth enough that we’re willing to search for it, no matter how rough and unkind it might be. We accept and take responsibility for our actions and difficulties, and try to solve them. People who are conscious try to become a better person every day.

Rather than wallowing in despair that the world can be a cruel and unfair place, they accept this simple fact as reality and try to look at the bright side of life. They don’t let the world drag them down and degrade them into bitter, spiteful individuals. They try to make the most out of it. For themselves, their family, their friends, and for the sake of everyone else around them.

Nevertheless, don’t take things too far. Because hyperawareness can have a lot of detrimental effects as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does blissful ignorance mean?

Blissful ignorance means being completely unaware of negative or unpleasant facts in life.

Thus, one is blissfully ignorant since they’re oblivious to these harsh facts. As a result, they’re more likely to be happier since they have fewer reasons to be upset.

Examples of, “ignorance is bliss”

Image of the word “example” being written with a blue marker by someone's hand.

A good example of blissful ignorance is when people are unaware of how many spiders there are in their house when they’re terrified of spiders.

Another example can be how we’re completely unmindful about how much we’re going to suffer in the future due to sickness, the deaths of our loved ones, and accidents.

Because we’re oblivious to these things, it’s easier for us to carry on with our lives.

Is blissful ignorance good or bad?

A man questioning whether something is good or bad.
Blissful ignorance can be good and bad depending on the circumstances.
It can be beneficial at times since we’re less likely to experience tension, especially when faced with things that are beyond our control. We’re also more likely to be happier since we experience fewer negative emotions since we perceive fewer negative and dreadful things.

Nevertheless, there are some crucial downsides as well. Ignoring issues, even when we’re not conscious of their existence, can create a snowball effect. This can lead to a much larger concern over time, with more devastating consequences as a result.


Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Blissful ignorance has its perks but ultimately creates more issues than it solves.

But becoming self-aware is hard since it requires courage, the willingness to fail, and the ability to deal with grim truths.

Nevertheless, I think that it’s optimal to deal with realities. If we delude ourselves with subjective truths instead of addressing life with objective truths and empirical evidence, then we’re living in a fairy tale.

But sooner or later, this happy little fantasy world that we created ourselves will unavoidably collapse. And then the pain will be infinitely worse than if we would’ve accepted reality in the first place.

Call to action

“Take action” written with white chalk on a blackboard.

Always seek out the objective truth, no matter how harsh it might be. Don’t just hear what you want to hear.

It’s better to operate in reality than to be deluded with lies and subjective truths. Because eventually, that bubble of illusion will collapse.

Try to figure out the root of everything. Decipher the meaning of all that’s going on around you.

When you truly understand something, you can make the best decisions with the available information at hand.

Willful blindness or self-awareness? You decide.

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