TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky


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If this were the last day of your life, how would you spend it?

It just occurred to me today that finishing my most urgent project at work wouldn't be on my to do list. I would love to read some thoughts or stories.

...After reading some responses, it seems that most people would do what they always wanted to do and take care of things that they value most. But why wouldn't we do these things in the first place, regardless of how long we have left? I don't mean it as a rhetorical question - it would be interesting to read some thoughts.

Topics: Values

Closing Statement from Arkady Grudzinsky

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in this conversation. Lots of interesting thoughts and perspectives.

Perhaps, most notable conclusions:

1. At the end, we focus on what matters most for us, and for most people it's people we love - most people would spend time with family, friends, write letters, etc.

2. It should not matter whether we live the last day of our life or not. Perhaps, we should just do what we do any other day, like having a cup of nice tea, and enjoy the moment.

It's hard to summarize everything that was said here - worth reading.

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  • Jan 21 2013: I definitely don't think of sympathy and compassion to be the same. I agree with Colleen that sympathy is pity. I would say if anything that empathy and compassion are the same. I'll need to give some more thought to the difference between empathy and compassion, if there is one.

    Somebody told me a couple of years ago to never pity anybody. Their reasoning was on the grounds that everybody has different ideas of what makes good or bad circumstances. Some of the things I have experienced might make some people want to pity me but I feel, who are they to pity me? I don't want their pity. Most people don't want pity. I did have a boyfriend who wanted everyone's pity and I think that's a sad situation, not least because most of the problems he had were actually created by himself.

    I suppose in a sense pity is the opposite of envy. In the same way that I don't want people to pity me I don't want them to envy me for the "good" opportunities I've had. And I completely agree with Colleen that as every experience is an opportunity to grow, pity is unnecessary and inappropriate. From every bad experience comes good, and from every good experience comes bad.

    I consider myself to be very empathetic. Part of this is because I am, and have always been, highly sensitive and aware of other people's feelings. Part of it is because I have been through some hard experiences and am very open-minded. I try not to judge others. One of my favourite sayings is "Don't judge a man til you've walked two moons in his moccasins". I used to be more judgmental and quite self-righteous but am happier now, having realised that there aren't really so many bad people in the world but that people have very different value systems. Putting myself in other people's shoes when they react with anger, realising that anger usually comes down to fear, makes me happier in the long run. Now, I just need to start showing myself some more empathy/compassion for my own mistakes!

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