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The Knowledge Conundrum: Increased Awareness = Increased Ignorance

Before this trip, I thought I had it all figured out. Ok, maybe I didn’t have it all figured out, but most of it.

I knew poor people are happier than rich people. I knew people who were connected with nature are happier than those who are not. I knew I’d be happier on the road than behind my desk in Denmark.

And to a large extent, I was generally right. But it’s all much more complicated than that. I call it the Knowledge Conundrum. You can see it below.

The Knowledge Conundrum

The Knowledge Conundrum

I don’t want to complicate things, but really this should be a graph with a logarithmic y-axis. As kids we learn so much so fast, but within a relatively confined space. We’re infinitely curious and explore our world and make sense of it. Then you get to adulthood and then cases vary from person to person.

The thing I’ve learned most, which I didn’t even consider when I first took the plunge was how much I’d learn that I don’t know.

I guess it’s kind of a strange takeaway. When people meet me they expect me to have some wise, sage advice about humanity and happiness. I have my own thoughts, sure, and each passing day I learn a bit more. But at the same time, with each passing day I learn so much more that I don’t know.

My goal is not to learn everything. That’s impossible. I’m trying to learn as much as I can though. It’s just ironic that the more you learn, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

One of my goals in life is to maximize both of the lines on that graph above. It’s hard to generalize, but it just seems like I’ve met a lot of people who approach life in a way to minimize the distance between those two lines, with “what you don’t know” decreasing over time. I find that hard to believe, and I feel like that’s the wrong way to approach life, but to each his own.

That’s why I started the “Change Your Paradigm” series. It’s entirely possible for you to learn almost everything in a very narrow sliver of life. For some people, that type of life is perfect. But if you are here on my blog, chances are you want more…

9 replies
  1. Owen Lipsett
    Owen Lipsett says:

    This is wonderful!!! In the spirit of the post, I found that reading it a second and a third time I got much more out of it than on my first reading. Your point is strong and clear, but focusing on the word choice let me savor it more. Most of all, I really appreciated the last paragraph, and especially the last line. I’m looking forward to further increasing my ignorance (in a good way!) with your next post :-)

  2. PasserBy
    PasserBy says:

    Interesting post, having traveled to this extent, re your quote
    ‘I knew poor people are happier than rich people’

    Why do you think this is, has your view changed?

    • Adam Pervez
      Adam Pervez says:

      I now realize there are many kinds of poverty. Urban poverty is very different from rural poverty. Financial poverty, which plagues the developing world, is very different from mental poverty, which plagues the developed world. Although I think there’s still a grain of truth to my original thought, I’ve just realized it’s much more complicated than a simple one-line sentence.

      • PasserBy
        PasserBy says:

        Living in both words, developing and developed, I totally agree.
        Though from what I’ve seen the Financial poverty numbs the quality of life to a lesser extent than the mental poverty.
        My experience – so far – tells me – in the absurdly simplest of terms – when a man has less money, He worries about less with a subconscious understanding there is little He can change. Less worry, leaves more time to simply be.
        When a man has more, He’s both worried about the many factors He believes he can control, the endless consequences of he’s many choices and the thousand aspirations born from He’s assets, whilst fearing loosing what He has – so He spends a lot of time fearing the now and living in the future and less time simply being


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