TED Conversations

Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

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Do we need "losers" to have "winners" in life?

I have recently decided to pursue a career in education and am trying to prepare myself for the upcoming school year. Some of my fears include dispassionate students and the diverse learning curve in a classroom. Although I am wholly optimistic and seeing the best in everyone, I know others will not see the same way. This got me thinking about the success of every individual on this planet.

For there to be winners/successful people, there must be others taking the hit. My question is, do we need to have this structure of successful and non-successful people in the world? Would it be possible for global happiness if everyone received the same goods and services, such as in communism?

Others will argue that different individuals are content with different levels of prosperity. But, at their levels of contentedness will the world remain stable? Say one individual is content with being a gardener after completing 5 years of grade school, whereas another individual is content with being a surgeon after completing 25 years of schooling.

In our society, do we let the unmotivated fall, so the ambitious can rise? Or should we uphold an optimistic approach of everyone becoming successful and prosperous, is this possible?

EDIT::: perhaps this would be more clear.

"If everyone gave their best at whatever they choose, would there be a niche for everyone in society?"


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    Gail . 50+

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    Feb 6 2013: You conflate "success" and "money" with success. You also have a very narrow view of humanity that you will grow out of through exposure.

    I know people with a PhD who have left your definition of success. The most brilliant is now a carpenter because he loves working with wood. Happiness does not appear just because you are economically equal. It appears when you choose it. No one need do without in order for you to choose it.
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      Feb 6 2013: So you think it's possible to create a seamlessly functioning society where everyone is satisfied with their place/occupation?
      • Feb 6 2013: Hello Aaron, I hope you and TED Lover do not mind if I throw in my answer to this very big question.

        No and Yes.

        No, a "seamlessly functioning society" will never happen.

        Yes, I think it is possible, over the next few centuries, to teach all people to have realistic attitudes about success and our place and occupation in life. This might not result in satisfaction, but it will result in acceptance.

        I would much prefer to have been born rich and extremely intelligent. If I allow my satisfaction to be determined by what others have, that I do not, I will always be dissatisfied. But I do not have to think and feel this way. I am satisfied with the life I have. We can choose our attitude about these matters, and that lesson can be taught to everyone. Of course no one will be satisfied if they do not have enough for the survival of themselves and their family. Satisfaction does require minimal resources. IMO, we are approaching a time when this minimum will be available to everyone.
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          Feb 6 2013: "We can choose our attitude about these matters, and that lesson can be taught to everyone."

          Thank Barry, what you said there cleared things up very well for me.

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