TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky


This conversation is closed.

Should we feel gratitude for our life? To whom?

Gratitude is important feeling in interpersonal relationships. Gratitude encourages giving and giving encourages more gratitude, etc. On the other side, lack of gratitude comes with a sense of "entitlement" - they mutually create each other as well. Lack of gratitude discourages giving and creates a sense that the world "owes us" a living. "We are programmed to receive." Gratitude, in my opinion, offers an exit from that proverbial Hotel California and "programs us to give".

How about our life and other things shown in this video? Religious people usually thank God for these things. The camera shows a standing round of applause at the end of the video. I very much doubt that most people attending TED talks are religious, so the video must have stirred some emotion in believers and non-believers alike.

Do non-believers feel gratitude for these things? If yes, to whom?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 24 2012: Arkady, I agree with you. TED is comprise of the 95% minority which are very liberal and, by looking at the bios and reading conversations, many are athiests. Let us take a quote from Louie's bio, “Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” This is a pure green statement. I salute Louie for his ability to appeal to all sides. If you watch the clip and believe in God then you are inspired by His design. If you are a environmentalist you will see the beauty and the need for preservation of the prestine sights he has presented you with. You want to run out and hug Al 'internet" Gore. Louie is a matchmaker and has coupled us with nature regardless of our beliefs. At the end everyone stood and clapped as one and the hawk and the dove stood together in peace. Each having been seduced.

    Appreciation is also a part of gratitude ... that is what has been brought to the surface by Louie.

    Therefore I submit that as believers and non-believers alike we can share emotions ... loves ... and concerns ... and not beholding to anyone ... Louie has found a way to make us alive, aware, and appreciative.

    All the best. Bob.
    • thumb
      Nov 24 2012: I agree with you that non-believers and believers alike share same emotions, experiences, and attitudes. It seems to me that the concept of God helps people to express feelings that would make no sense otherwise - such as the feeling of gratitude for our life. This feeling is very abstract and this rational question "to whom?" turns it into nonsense. Same goes for helping total strangers, loving and forgiving enemies. These things are irrational. It's hard to do them without an irrational belief of some sort.

      It's sad that people would fight each other simply because they don't use the same language to express similar feelings.
      • thumb
        Nov 24 2012: Arkady, Thanks for the reply. I am not a religious scholar but I think it would help you to understand the roots of christanity and the gift that Constantine the Great the Roman Emperor gave us. The Council of Nicaea is of particular interest. I do not ask that you either embrace or deny ... but rather to enjoy the history and events that changed the world under his rule.

        Enjoy. Bob.
        • thumb
          Nov 24 2012: Robert, Constantine's "gift of Christianity" is quite controversial. There are opinions that this "gift" led to centuries of antisemitism, genocide, and suppression of science. The very motives of this "gift" are questionable. This brings up a good point. Should we feel gratitude for everything that comes our way? E.g., if someone gives me a motorcycle and I get into an accident and injure myself, should I be grateful for this gift? I guess, this question of gratitude is not about the gifts or about the givers - it's about ourselves, our attitude and perception.

          "There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein. We can replace "miracle" with "gift" in this quote.

          This brings to mind a funny parable: On a winter day, a sparrow froze and fell onto the road. A cow was passing by and dropped its dung onto the sparrow. The sparrow warmed up and began to tweet. A cat heard the sparrow, got it out of the pile of dung, and ate it. The moral is three-fold: 1) not everyone who dungs on you is your enemy; 2) not everyone who gets you out of the dung is your friend; 3) don't tweet while sitting in a pile of dung.

          Not sure how this relates to the gratitude question, but there seems to be some connection and food for thought :-).
      • thumb
        Nov 25 2012: Wow, I had never heard anyone doubt or question Constantine. In some religions he is even sainted.

        I am not surprised though in todays world of revisionists anything is possible.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.