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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 26 2012: After watching the video, gratitude arises without reason, as natural as breathing.
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      Nov 26 2012: Hi Yuri!
      Isn't that video wonderful? I agree that gratitude can arise without reason...as natural as breathing... a way of life...in my humble perception:>)
      • Nov 26 2012: Hi Colleen,
        Yes, it is indeed. that way of life and perceptions you share, really inspires me. :-
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          Nov 26 2012: You and your perceptions inspire me too Yuri, and I am grateful for that feeling:>)
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      Nov 26 2012: I agree to that, but, unless you believe in God, the question is "to whom?" It's interesting for me to hear responses from non-believers.
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        Nov 26 2012: To yourself Arkady and/or anyone we choose to share gratitude with. Gratitude is a feeling....a state of being. It is in us...part of us....we choose to feel it...or not.

        I do not know who you refer to when you say "non-believers". Most people believe in something, and whether or not it is the same thing that others believe in, does not matter. So, who are you labeling "non-believers"? And why do you need to do that?
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          Nov 26 2012: Coleen, I agree with your point that everyone believes in something. I appreciate you looking deep into my motives. This is very insightful. As "non-believers", I refer to people who do not believe in a creator and, therefore, would have no-one to thank for the beauty of nature.

          I guess, my whole point is to show that whether or not we believe in God, we share similar emotions about the world around us. These emotions are often quite irrational. I'm just trying to see how people reconcile the irrational emotions with the "rational" worldview claimed by many.

          There are some good questions that came up along the way:
          - What is this emotion that we feel as we perceive the beauty of nature - is it gratitude or "amazement" and "appreciation"?
          - Are "gratitude" and "appreciation" different feelings?
          - Does "gratitude" need to be directed at someone?
          - How is gratitude related to feeling inferior?
          - Is feeling inferior same as humility?
          - Are there any social and psychological benefits to feelings of gratitude and humility?

          I am not trying to prove anything or make any religious points. The goal of this question is to understand myself better, to understand others better, and, perhaps, help others to understand themselves better as well.
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        Nov 26 2012: Arkady,
        Your question, for this discussion is..."Should we feel gratitude for our life? To whom?"

        When you try to seperate "believers" in a creator, from "non-believers", you are reinforcing a divide....a seperation. Gratitude has NOTHING to do with whether or not one believes in a creator!

        Gratitude is a feeling....a state of "being", so we can be grateful in ourselves, or we can share gratitude with whomever we choose...it may be another person, a creator, the forest creatures, etc. etc. Being a believer or non-believer in a creator does NOT in any way impact gratitude...other than who or what one chooses to be grateful to....could be ourselves:>)
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          Nov 27 2012: Coleen, thanks for your reply. I was looking for responses like yours and other people. Certainly, I do not want to separate believers from non-believers, but, perhaps, underline the similarities in the worldviews. Which, of course, one cannot do without realizing the differences. :)
      • Nov 27 2012: Arkady, I can feel gratitude for the friend who shares his knowledge.
        but also i can feel gratitude for not trying to explain how the first heartbeat occurs, because it's enough to know that it occurs.
        I used to search to whom, but I feel that is not necessary to define before to feel.
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          Nov 27 2012: Yuri, thanks! One surprising conclusion that I make from responses is that gratitude does not have to be directed at someone. It can be abstract. We can spontaneously feel it when we experience something good. It seems irrational. Which leads to the second conclusion - rationalizing our emotions often does not make sense. If we try, we may end up with explanations more irrational than the feeling. Isn't it amazing? We feel first and use reason to explain our experiences later (if we can), not the other way around.
      • Nov 27 2012: You are welcome.
        ->If we try, we may end up with explanations more irrational than the feeling. Isn't it amazing?
        Yes, it is. Very nice conclusion.
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        Nov 27 2012: Nice conclusion Arkady:>)

        You say..."We can spontaneously feel it (gratitude) when we experience something good".

        I suggest that we can experience it no matter if we label the experience "good", or "bad". When we live life with gratitude, an experience is simply an experience....neither good or bad...we have no need to label and rationalize:>)

        For example, we might say that having cancer and a near fatal head injury was a "bad" experience? Well, I had them both at the same time, and I cannot say they were "bad", because I learned so much with the experience. I learned more about my own strength and courage, the love of people around me, and the importance of love and acceptance was reinforced. I learned some things that I could not have learned in any other way, so I am grateful for the experiences.

        To me, this is all very reasonable, rational, logical, natural and it makes sense. Perhaps you are trying to rationalize something with the logical mind (what you have been taught as a human?), when it needs the participation of the instinct/intuition to make sense?

        P.S.
        I realize that you are an engineer, and one of your areas of expertise is data analysis. I suggest that when you are insightfully and eagerly exploring any feelings, you might want to let go of your engineer logic a little bit:>) I hang around with retired engineers, and I'd like to share something that one of them, who is very insightful and aware, always says when faced with a challenge...
        "It's not a problem...it's a feature"
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          Nov 27 2012: Coleen,

          Re: "I suggest that we can experience it no matter if we label the experience "good", or "bad". "

          This is a great addition to what I said. I noticed, life becomes much easier and enjoyable when we stop labeling people, events, and circumstances as "good" and "bad" and speculate on what they "should be" or "might have been if...".

          It's exactly my engineering job that gets me into this philosophical mood. I'm testing quality and reliability of electrical circuits. When a reliability test fails it means, in fact, that the test was successful, because the whole purpose of the test was to make the device fail. It exposes the hidden defects and gives an opportunity to improve the design. When your job is to find defects in everything, it's very easy to get a negative world view. I caught myself judging others for not doing their job properly, promising unrealistic deadlines, failure to plan, etc. It's depressing. I thought to myself, "let me try the 'do not judge'" commandment. I started to adopt a softer and more forgiving attitude to others and found my own life at work much more tolerable and enjoyable.

          However, I don't like the saying "it's not a defect, it's a feature". It's usually used as a way to cover-up engineering blunders and present them as if the product was "designed" this way. It sounds like a distortion of truth to me.
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        Nov 28 2012: I very much agree Arkady...life becomes much easier and more enjoyable when we stop labeling people, events, and circumstances as "good" and "bad" and stop speculating on what they "should be" or "might have been if....

        I was addressing your previous comment, in which you stated..."We can spontaneously feel it when we experience something good."

        I also agree that having a "softer" attitude toward others is beneficial. To have something for others, it is also beneficial to have it for ourselves.

        The way you have misquoted the quote I offered, seems to change the meaning for me, so it does not feel like it projects the idea I was trying to project. "It's not a problem...it's a feature" , as my engineer friend lovingly says it, and explains his use of the phrase, means that what he is exploring, may need to be looked at from different perspectives, and the situation (problem or feature, as we choose to see it) offers the opportunity to look differently at the challenge. He has explained that sometimes the thought process he learned as an engineer, needs to change a little bit to see the "feature" in the challenge.

        If your "engineering job" supports your "philosophical mood", and the exploration of emotions/feelings, then carry on my friend:>)
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          Nov 29 2012: Thanks for your comment, Coleen. I understand what you meant to say with the quote. I also support seeing an opportunity where others see a problem (see my thoughts on reliability testing). I just wanted to mention that this saying does not have the same connotation for me. :-)
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        Nov 29 2012: My pleasure Arkady:>)

        I "get" that the saying does not have the same connotation for you. We are all different, and perceive things differently. I am grateful for the differences, because it makes our world much more interesting:>)

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