TED Conversations

Scott Seigel


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How has enduring some extreme hardship profoundly impacted your life?

Twenty years ago, the death of my best friend allowed me to cry after the Army had "trained" it out of me. Recently marital separation has caused me to evaluate and refocus my life on deeper, more valuable things than pleasure, power, status and wealth. Voluntarily living to serve and care for others transcends logic and selfishness. It's benefits far surpass self-serving forms of love. Whether you are "paying it forward," "doing as you'd want others to do for you," or "creating good karma," personally making the world a better place probably benefits the doer most of all. Furthermore, the more you're willing to endure and suffer, the better the result.


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  • May 9 2012: Thanks Scott for starting this conversation I was going to list all the hardships that helped me to grow but after reading everyone else's I realized mine were the same, at least in theme. Death of family and friends, sickness, divorce, the suffering of oneself and others and injustice. Rather than feeling dispare about everyone having the same problems I feel more encouraged and connected because on a fundermental level we are all the same, some lessons are best taught through hardship. Our own suffering in our story helps us to be empathic to the suffering of others. This reminder for me came at the right time, thanks again Scott :-)
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      May 10 2012: Right on Mathew! I'm glad this thread encouraged you! It's fascinating how our response to hardships matters more than the hardships themselves. I've thought a lot about writing a book on this and all the TEDers who've participated have sure given me a lot to think about. I'm looking forward to where this will be in 4 weeks--and I'm glad I chose a long timeline. Tell your friends and...


      P.s. I know someone with your name. Did your family live in Los Altos, CA and later in Portola Valley, CA?
      • May 12 2012: No not me, sorry, grew up in PNG and Australia.

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