TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky


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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?


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  • Nov 24 2012: I am a 'atheist'. And I feel gratitude for life too. I feel gratitude to mother nature (evil-ution :). Because when you are an atheist, you might want to believe every thing led to another.. I also feel gratitude to myself when I have f.ex. gotton the job, because I did so well on the interview and so on.

    like, if i pick up a mushroom in the forrest, and eats it, i thank the weather for making them grow up and the sun for making me go and find it etc.. I don't think about every detail like that off course, but more towards a generic understanding of how it came to be. really the same thing religious people do, just without the God figure. (I stop my gratitude before at a potential Big Bang, and whatever was before that, I could not care less.. just like christians could not care less who created God)

    To end up; I don't think we can choose to feel gratitude; some do, some don't.
    And I am convinced that it does not affect the ability to give, just because you don't feel gratitude to a God or mother nature or Buddha or yourself.
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      Nov 25 2012: Re: "To end up; I don't think we can choose to feel gratitude; some do, some don't."

      Can we learn to feel? I think, we can. In many cases, gratitude is taught by parents as a social skill. I still think that ability to feel gratitude and ability to give are related. Those who don't know or don't feel comfortable accepting gifts often don't know or don't feel comfortable to make them.
      • Nov 25 2012: Interesting! I think the taught social skill and the real appreciation off a gift because you truly deeply like it, are two different things. For me the social setting is more like acting for others best being, not gratitude of any kind.

        For me at least, it is extremely uncomfortable to receive gifts, however, I love giving them!
        I think it is connected with me being very shy. I don't even feel comfortable being told I've done a good job, or have an amazing talent for the guitar, it just bugs me out. I also blush, and believe all this proborbly are connected somewhat :)

        Furthermore, I could agree to a sentence like "we can learn to controll the outcome off our feelings" at least, but I don't think we can learn to feel from our parents (except perhaps by watching them). I think we can only learn to feel by experiencing the feeling, hence i think we are equipped by default with these feelings of gratitude or hate or amazement.
        The understanding perspective we choose/are convinced of in life, then (religion or atheism or something else), will affect our gratitude and how we percieve it (I think :)

        But this is highly amature chains off thoughts regarding a huge difficult question, so don't take it for anything else :)

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