TED Conversations

Daniel Vineberg


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"I don't try to be right, I choose to be happy" ... wait, what?

With no disrespect intended to RIc or any readers with opposing views, I take issue with the quote I pinpointed. The pursuit of happiness is a great thing and all, but I don't think it should actually take precedence over being right.

Now I know there's a fine line between "being right" and "doing the right thing". After all someone who tries to "be right" on every minute issue can get very annoying fast ( -- ever met someone who insists on correcting grammar when it's clear what's being said? case in point).

But on larger issues I would like to suggest that proving that you are in fact right constitutes doing the right thing.
eg. Galileo would've been a lot happier if he just agreed the earth was flat and stopped insisting he was right -- but aren't we happy he was stubborn?

more recent eg. Fighting tolerance / discrimination. Though intrinsically rewarding, most of us can live an easier, happier life by turning a cold shoulder. But who would argue that this is good advice?

I don't mean to pick apart Ric's quote and use it out of context. All I would like to show is that what may help you live on a micro level may actually promote apathy on a macro level. I'm only twenty though, so I'm still at the idealistic age where I think some hard work can save the world. But isn't that what TED's all about? :)


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    May 16 2011: What I believe Ric was saying that fighting over opinions is destructive. Daniel, I want to tell you that age has nothing to do with what you want to do, your inner spirit and beliefs are the only things that have any influence in that area.

    More interesting is your understanding of what it means to be right. Being right means you won an argument, it doesnt mean that theres some universal law (truth?) that you are in alignment with. Doing the right thing means doing what you understand is moral, it is an opinion and just like everything it will change in time. In fact there is no hair thin line between these two things, they are completely different animals. If you believe that there are universal laws (gods rules if you will) then I beg you to inspect your beliefs further. Are there situations where you must break a law to be in accord with another? Of course there are. Where do these laws come from? From the mind. However you look at it, the terms used to describe any action are infinitely complex, they can and will be described differently by every person. So in fact these ideas are in your head, sure they might have come from a book (holy or not) and therefore constructed by another person (or directly from a god, which we cant prove). Either way our own understanding is not the same as the original constructors. Physical laws seem to be bent and broken in certain situations like the big bang, and even seemingly simple things such as golf balls are made up of millions of tiny particles which we can barely describe and have no real understand of. Even numbers themselves are mental constructs, 1 apple in reality is not one thing at all, nor do we know if there's any elementary particles that make an apple up, infinite in function and in ways to describe it.

    As far as I can tell there is a world that can be described, these descriptions (or truths) are NOT reality itself, if even a part of the same reality. Truth is a measure, and maybe never absolute.

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