TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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?

+2
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb

    Gail . 50+

    • +1
    Nov 24 2012: As an atheist, I can say that I feel appreciation for many things. I do not feel gratitude for these things, because gratitude is something one feels toward another - in this case, by my view, a nonexistent personality.

    I disagree that lack of gratitude creates a sense the the world "owes us"a living. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Gratitude is a position of inferiority. In our culture, the inferior are deemed to be worthy of help. So it would be more accurate to say that gratitude creates the sense that the grateful are owed because they are unable to manifest things for themselves.

    Appreciation is a position of equality and self-esteem. It recognizes self-responsibility as much as gratitude denies it. Gratitude isn't necessary because I manifest my own reality. I truly do appreciate having that ability.
    • thumb
      Nov 24 2012: Re: "Gratitude is a position of inferiority. In our culture, the inferior are deemed to be worthy of help. So it would be more accurate to say that gratitude creates the sense that the grateful are owed because they are unable to manifest things for themselves."

      What seems to follow is that we should not feel gratitude lest we admit our inferiority. And we should not give and help others lest we cause them to feel grateful and inferior. Is that right?

      How about "gratitude is a position of humility"? Is humility same as inferiority? Most powerful men can be humble and grateful. In my opinion, it makes them more powerful. How can we "manifest our own reality" when we "cannot make even one hair white or black" or "add a single hour to our life"? "Humility comes before honor" and "pride goes before destruction". Alone, we can achieve very little. Asking others for help and helping others with humility and gratitude, in fact, multiplies our individual abilities and power. Don't you think so?

      But the first step seems to be to admit that we need help and feel gratitude for what we have, because I don't think, we can claim merit for anything that we have including our own abilities and everything can and will be taken from us before we know it.

      Although, of course, my position is based on religion, I don't mean this to be a religious discussion. I just would like to consider which attitude is more beneficial, psychologically and socially.
      • thumb

        Gail . 50+

        • +1
        Nov 25 2012: Yes, you and I have mutually exclusive worldviews. I was a Christian for 30 years, but after considerable research into pre kjv versions of the gospel texts, and contemplation of the teachings of Jesus, I left Christianity and followed Jesus' teachings instead.

        I found that humility keeps me from being one with the christ. How can I be one-with something if I feel humble compared to it? I can't. I have to be that which I want to be.

        It was only when I began to see and acknowledge my own greatness that I was able to see the greatness of that which you call god (but I do not) and of my fellow human. That is when my life changed to the point where it doesn't even feel like the same life anymore.

        So, with this in mind, I fully appreciate all that we are and all that is around me - having manifested it myself from that which we are. I know this sounds weird to you, but if you speak of psychologically beneficial, more than 20 years of clinical depression vanished. And if you speak of socially, honesty became so important to me that I was willing to look at that which I didn't want to see before - and with that more joyous opportunities opened to me. I am no danger to anyone - not because I follow any commandments, but because I know with absolute certainty (having tested it) that as we treat our fellows, we bring the equivalent into our own lives.

        Therefore, because I wanted to be treated well by my fellows, I treat others as I want to be treated. The difference between "then" and "now" is that before, I didn't take the time to examine how I treated others, so I didn't accept responsibility for my part in the consequences I faced.

        Repentance, I found, will not take you to the kingdom of heaven that Jesus said is within you NOW. So having found that kingdom, I want to always remain consciously aware of it. Humility and "gratitude" as opposed to appreciation, takes me away from it.

        Peace. :-)
        • thumb
          Nov 27 2012: Hi, TED Lover. I appreciate your response very much.

          Our worldviews seem mutually exclusive just like the two sides of the yin-yang symbol. Depending on the perspective, they can also be viewed as identical. It seems to me that we call things differently - that's all.

          Here is my take on this. I believe, self-esteem is extremely important for our inner peace. We need to know who we are. By this I mean, know who we are physically, what we like, what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what makes us angry. And we must accept ourselves as we are, not as we or anyone else thinks we ought to be. If we want to look differently or be like someone else or believe we deserve more than we have or less than we have, we are unhappy with ourselves or, simply, unhappy. When we base our image of ourselves on other people's opinions or compare ourselves to others, it may have two possible results: pride and arrogance or feeling of inferiority. Self-esteem which you talk about means avoiding the second mistake, humility that I talk about is avoiding the first mistake.

          I believe, God is an abstraction of our "self". We project our "self" on everything we see. This is why we often see things "as we are". Responses I read here seem to confirm this. When people "feel gratitude" to forest, for example, they project their human image onto the forest. This is how gods come about. There is, however, one God - one "self" and he is within as many scriptures say. I like the idea of Christianity, because it clearly shows that God is human. We are one with God. And there is no huge mystery in it.

          Jesus did not seem to have an inferiority complex - walking around healing sick and telling everyone he is the son of God. But he never used his power for his own benefit, washed his disciple's feet, healed a soldier who came to arrest him, and allowed himself to be killed. Well, that's humility as I understand it. Humility is not a feeling of inferiority.
        • thumb
          Nov 27 2012: Re: "Repentance, I found, will not take you to the kingdom of heaven that Jesus said is within you NOW. So having found that kingdom, I want to always remain consciously aware of it."

          As I read your final statement, it seems to me that we, really, have the same world view. Repentance is simply acknowledging our own imperfections - moral, in the first place. We need it to get rid of them, don't we? Otherwise, we start to judge others, would not forgive other people, and turn into hypocrites. Repentance is taking time to think how we treat others of which you talk. Repentance and humility are a part of the process of getting at peace with ourselves. So, congratulations on having found your kingdom.

          Re: "I was able to see the greatness of that which you call god (but I do not)." What we call it isn't really important as long as we understand what we are talking about. :-)
      • thumb
        Nov 27 2012: RE: "When we base our image of ourselves on other people's opinions or compare ourselves to others, it may have two possible results: pride and arrogance or feeling of inferiority. Self-esteem which you talk about means avoiding the second mistake, humility that I talk about is avoiding the first mistake."

        IMO, pride & arrogance = feelings of inferiority. Only a person who feels insecure can be arrogant.

        RE: "We project our "self" on everything we see. This is why we often see things "as we are"."

        IMO, I couldn't agree more.

        RE: "Jesus did not seem to have an inferiority complex - walking around healing sick and telling everyone he is the son of God. But he never used his power for his own benefit,"

        IMO, Though Jesus said that he was the light of the world, he also said that YOU are the light of the world. We are gods in our own rights. Jesus always used his power for his own benefit because as we do to/for others, we do to/for ourselves and that which you call God (per Bible).

        RE: Jesus dying on the cross: If you read the pre-kjv of the ancient texts, you will see that tests say that bar abba was released unharmed. To get the importance of this, you must understand Hebrew and koine Greek. Bar abba is not a name. It is a term of endearment used by a very small child to his (loving) father. Because this father gives all that is asked for (no stones when bread is asked for), bar abba COULD be translated into "sugar daddy". Combine this promise with Jesus' instructions to "turn the other cheek" & "love your enemy". You may not be aware that peace is a power, and if you find peace, threats will back down in the face of it.

        Knowing what I know, and having tested the "turn the other cheek" technique in 2 lethal situations, I know with certainty that it works.

        RE:, Repentance is acknowledging imperfections: If you find the kingdom within, you will find your perfection & innocence. Repentance & humility deny this, so can't get there from there
        • thumb
          Nov 27 2012: Re: "IMO, pride & arrogance = feelings of inferiority."

          This is true. When we feel inferior or insecure, we try to inflate our importance by visual appearance of self-confidence and treating others as inferior to us which is the attitude of arrogance. On the other hand, when we feel that we are more important than we are, we start thinking that we do not get what we deserve in terms of salary, respect, etc. You are right that feeling inferior and arrogance are two sides of the same coin.

          Interesting thoughts on the meaning of Barabbas name. Not sure about the "sugar daddy" interpretation. I found this: http://christiananswers.net/dictionary/barabbas.html. It interprets Barabbas as "son of the father". I'm not a Hebrew linguist, but, from a look-up on the internet, "bar" means "the son of". It is very possible that "Barabbas" and Jesus Christ refer to different parts of our "self". The amount of associations in the Bible is astonishing. E.g., Joshua (who led Israel into the promised land flowing with milk and honey) and Jesus are, apparently the same name. Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss (a sign of love and respect) and Judah - the name of the biggest tribe of Israel is the same name. It seems to imply that we can betray God internally by paying external signs of respect. Whereas Peter who betrayed Jesus externally turned out to be "the rock" of faith. Etc. I find this fascinating.
      • thumb
        Nov 27 2012: What we call "god" is important if you define god as someone or something that has power OVER our lives - a greater being. You like seeing God as "a" being, whereas I thrive when I see the self-aware energy field of which we all are, as "being".

        "A" being vs. "being". Inferiority belongs to the first. Equality belongs to the second.

        No, our worldviews are mutually exclusive. But I have enjoyed having a civil debate about the matter. Too often this is impossible.
        • thumb
          Nov 27 2012: As I said, I define god as an abstraction of our "self" projected onto the universe. I'm not blind and I can read. And as I read the Bible, the amount of cruelty, jealousy, anger, etc. shown by the "loving" God to people is amazing. This is rightfully pointed out by people like Dawkins. But this seems like a very accurate portrait of our own human self. We ascribe all human features to God.

          This power over our lives is inside us. And the power is huge. It should be used only for self-control. When we use it to control others, it brings evil. It's a circular reference - like "free will". We have no free will unless we believe it. We have no human rights unless we believe it. This is the only way I can reconcile the moral inconsistencies in the Bible.

          You seem to have some preconceived opinion about my beliefs. But it is not my purpose to convince you of anything. I very much appreciate sharing your views with me. Thanks.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.