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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  • Dec 3 2012: I'm saying we don't have a choice. We are hard-wired to be 'selfish'. It's in our genes, yes, but it's also just simply impossible any other way. Every conscious decision I make is determined solely by what I 'want', and is therefore a selfish one.

    Ex: I can give all my money to the world, but my decision to give was determined by some 'want' that i had, hence the 'decision' to give. Otherwise the transaction would be described as the money being 'taken' from me.

    Some say selfishness is the root of evil, but I say the ego is. Once we realize that we don't exist as we think we do, but rather that we are just a part of a larger organism, then we can be selfish for the whole (unselfish). In religious terms, we should be 'selfish' for God's family of which we comprise....or: The Earth is Me and I am The Earth. The ego is the illusion that we create of ourselves, and hinders our progress.

    as for communicating gratitude, I said:

    1) i believe in saying 'thank you', as acknowledging a good deed is important. (communication is important)

    2) saying 'thank you' to someone who helps you is as pointless as saying 'sorry' to someone
    you have wronged.

    the first 1 is obvious, but with the second 2, I am NOT claiming that 'saying' thank you is pointless, I'm saying
    that it would be AS pointless AS...,,....I'm attacking those people who receive a good deed or energy, SAY thank
    you to the giver, and then squander/waste (fail to appreciate...) what they have received.
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      Dec 3 2012: I agree Leo, that every conscious decision may be determined by what we "want". I do not think/feel that to be "selfish" however. What if we "want" the world to be more peaceful and loving? What if we "want" our environment to be more user friendly? Those are not selfish "wants", because they benefit the whole.

      Same with giving your money away....If you "want" to give your money away so people will notice and admire you, that may not be the most beneficial "want" for yourself. However, the money you give away may still help other people. If you give your money to people who need it, with intent to genuinely help support those people, then both you and the recipients benefit. Perhaps the outcome of "giving" has many factors, and may benefit one person, several people, or the whole of humankind.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that realizing we are a part of a larger organism, is very helpful when we choose our intention followed by actions.

      Regarding your beliefs about saying thank you...
      I agree...acknowledging a good deed is important...and I will add...very benificial to the giver and receiver.
      Why do you need to attack "those people who receive a good deed or energy, SAY thank you to the giver, and then squander/waste (fail to appreciate...) what they have received"?
      How does attacking them benefit YOU or the whole? Are you making a judgement? Why do you want to do that?

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