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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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    Dec 8 2012: Thank your mum
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      Dec 8 2012: I've addressed this somewhere below. I'm thankful to my mom for giving birth to me and caring for me, but not for the life itself. I cannot thank my mom for existence of life on earth and for her ability to bear children. No human can take credit for what our bodies can do - including reproduction.

      Besides, "life" in my question is only a particular example of the abstract beauty of this world for which it is unclear who to thank for - sunshine, stars, flowers, etc. Nobody's mom is to thank for that.

      Anyway, it becomes clear to me that it is unnecessary to have an object of gratitude. It's possible to experience an abstract gratitude, not directed at anyone in particular. Interesting conclusion.
      • Dec 8 2012: That "life" you speak of, can be a tough row to hoe. Everybody, and everything are very often tested (or proved) by adversity. Who is there with you to help you get through your own trials and tribulations? Those are whom you could show gatitude toward.

        Sure, flowers and sunshine are nice thoughts, but they are of little help when you are drowning in sickness, disease, and injury or other hardships. And you can't bow yourself in gratitude to a tree and be taken seriously. Again, it is those people around you that can help or hinder your path through life. When you are helped, you feel good, and when you are hindered, you don't feel as good, correct?

        Therefore, to show your gratitude in living a fulfilling life, you should help your neighbors, so that they can also share in the good feelings. Of course help your friends when you are able, but also help complete strangers, when you can see what is needed. Live your life as if you believe the adage; What goes around comes around, and try to stretch beyond that; in that you are often helping (when you can - giving, supporting, complimenting, etc. to include all forms of assistance) with no expectations of receiving some reward. When the act of helping others is reward enough, you will have found satiation for your gratitude.
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          Dec 8 2012: This is well said. Another example of biblical values said in a completely secular way.

          Re: "Again, it is those people around you that can help or hinder your path through life. When you are helped, you feel good, and when you are hindered, you don't feel as good, correct?"

          Often, we feel helped or hindered just by circumstances, with no active agents involved. Also, materialistically speaking, there is no free will. People say and do stuff reacting to external stimuli using memories and preconditions of the past, pretty much like sophisticated biochemical machines. People often help or hinder others without even being aware of it.

          I have hard time fitting gratitude into a purely materialistic and rational worldview.
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        Dec 14 2012: I understand your point.

        I may share similar awe at the universe and our human existence and experience.

        I guess I don't see any agency to direct thanks to.

        I'm with those who share abstract awe and appreciation of my existence etc.
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          Dec 20 2012: Hi Obey,
          I don't need an agency to direct thanks to, although, I certainly recognize all the "agents" in my life experience who have contributed to my gratitude:>)
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        Dec 20 2012: Obey, Arkady and Larry,
        I'm thankful for your mom giving birth to you guys as well:>)

        I disagree Arkady that..."No human can take credit for what our bodies can do - including reproduction." I'm a mom, and I gratefully accept all the credit and gratitude that comes my way:>)

        You also say..."Besides, "life" in my question is only a particular example of the abstract beauty of this world for which it is unclear who to thank for - sunshine, stars, flowers, etc. Nobody's mom is to thank for that."

        Well, I disagree again:>) My mom taught me how to love and be grateful for everything, including sunshine, stars, flowers, etc. If she had not encouraged love of all living things, acceptance and love of the life experience, I may not have noticed the beauty all around me in every single moment. So, in a round about way (another cycle Arkady!!!) my mom gave me the gifts as well:>)

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