Dumb and Happy
It’s no coincidence that the people I hear complaining about others’ lack of intellect tend to be some of the dumbest I’ve met. They often tend to live in the most unenviable of circumstances as well. Sometimes these curmudgeons will even throw in the pithy adage about ignorance equivalent to bliss. And that’s the tell (see poker) isn’t is? It’s both an admission of their own unhappiness and they don’t know what that phrase really means – or at least what it means to me.
I love the line from The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That’s what I think of when I hear someone say, “ignorance is bliss.” Ignorance IS bliss, not because not knowing is comforting but because growth and learning are key factors in our happiness. Figuring it all out is the fun part, it’s about the journey and not the destination, etc.. We’re happiest when we are learning, achieving or moving towards a goal in some way. Trying to lose some weight and see you’ve dropped even one pound on the scale today? BAMMM! Instant mood changer, no matter how far you might have to go. Intelligence and happiness are directional and not positional.
I’ve had another amazing past week and privileged to spend so much time with some pretty incredible people from teams here in Europe. The experience has been both humbling and exhilarating at the same time and I’ve now spent the better part of four hours organizing notes, following up on shared links and website suggestions and transcribing as many conversations to my journal as I can before I forget them. There is saying about success, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” Want to know a secret about me? My strategy has always been to be the dumbest guy in the room, because then I have the most to gain.
I just feel in order to be happy you need to grow and before you can learn anything or grow, you need to accept and even embrace you’re own ignorance first. Even be confident about it. Because, as Anaïs Nin put it, “It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar.”
Today I’m free to explore Nürnberg before flying home early tomorrow morning. One stop will be the Germanische Museum near Old Town to see the Erdapfel. I’ve been there a few times before but I still like to look at it. It was made in 1492 and considered to be the oldest surviving terrestrial globe. It doesn’t include the Americas as they hadn’t been discovered by Europe yet and there are even dragons illustrated in the some of the seas and oceans. Super cool, right? At the time, this globe was the zenith of geographic knowledge and yet it looks almost silly when contrasted to what we know about the world today. I think you get the point.