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#1 Ozquoll

Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:05 AM

This struck a chord with me:

**Start quote**

It comes from a wide-ranging interview that Anderson Cooper -- who has endured some tragedy of his own -- did recently with Colbert, in which he asked Colbert about living with painful memories.

The exchange, which has now gone viral (I've embedded it below), goes like this:

Cooper: "You told an interviewer that you have learned to - in your words - love the thing that I most wish had not happened. You went on to say, 'What punishments of God are not gifts?' Do you really believe that?"

Colbert: "Yes. It's a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. There's no escaping that."

It's not what people might often expect to hear from a mainstream comedian on network television. Colbert continued, speaking specifically of his father's and brothers' deaths:

"I want it to not have happened, but if you are grateful for your life, which I think is a positive thing to do, not everybody is - and I am not always - but it's the most positive thing to do, then you have to be grateful for all of it.

You can't pick and choose what you're grateful for.

So, what do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people's loss, which allows you to connect with that other person, which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it's like to be a human being, if it's true that all humans suffer."

There's a lot in that, but I think Colbert provided his own, best summary with the 10-word passage I've emphasized above: "It's a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering."


#2 born.a.girl

Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:32 AM


I was seriously unwell early in my teenage years, and didn't really become a normally healthy person until new medication in the mid seventies, when I was in my early twenties.

Missed a lot of school, so results were 'average' compared with a few older siblings' better results.

There was zero possibility in our family of anyone going on to uni from school.

I am absolutely convinced it's what drove me to be the first in the family to get a degree, which I did at night along with full time work. Finally people stopped saying I'd 'done well, considering'.

I'm therefore not sorry at all that it happened to me.

#3 ~J_F~

Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:44 AM

I guess it depends on how you feel about life.

I don’t think it’s a gift to exist, essentially two people decided to have a baby and you are it, it was a selfish act to fulfil their desire.

Of course you can pick and choose what you are grateful for.  Some sh*t in my life quite honestly I could do without and wish wasn’t part of my world but it is what it is and I go on but I am not grateful for it!!

Edited by ~J_WTF~, 20 August 2019 - 10:47 AM.

#4 28 Barbary Lane

Posted 20 August 2019 - 11:12 AM

I don’t know, what about people who experience horrific on-going suffering, is life a gift for them? I can understand the need to put a positive spin on things to be able to keep functioning though. It’s more like a work with what you have not what you want situation for them I would think.

There’s also people who can overcome adversity and become an inspiration to others who are in their situation, helping them come up with other options they might not have been aware of, so that’s a gift to others I suppose.

Personally I’m not grateful for suffering though. I have more of a sh*t happens so try and block it and move on as fast as possible kind of approach!

#5 amdirel

Posted 20 August 2019 - 11:17 AM

What a load of cr@pola. You don't have to be grateful for tragedy and suffering!

#6 maryanneK

Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:22 PM

Hmmmm yeah nah, I mean yes I can be grateful for existing, even WITH suffering, but I'm not grateful for everything in my life

#7 cinnabubble

Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:27 PM

Not to be born at all
Is best, far best that can befall,
Next best, when born, with least delay
To trace the backward way.
Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (The Theban Plays, #2)

The best of all things is something entirely outside your grasp: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best thing for you is to die soon.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

#8 ~J_F~

Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:42 PM


Can someone dumb that down for me?

#9 cinnabubble

Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:49 PM

View Post~J_WTF~, on 20 August 2019 - 04:42 PM, said:


Can someone dumb that down for me?

If you must be born, die as soon as you can. Just as a counterpoint to the OP.

#10 José

Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:54 PM

its a bit ACT- acceptance and commitment therapy- ish i think.

russ harris likes to say his goal is to lead a 'rich full and meaningful ' life. and this includes experiencing uncomfortable feelings, like sadness.

#11 MooGuru

Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:01 PM

It kind of resonates with me but I don't generally like the concept of it's a gift to exist.
I'm a massive proponent of seeing the positive side of things, to look for the stuff that makes you smile at the crappiest of times.  But that can mean a single moment that feels like a gift in a day where existence is fecking hard.
For me the trick is if you can find that moment in each day then you're generally looking out for the good stuff that can slip by unnoticed when the bad is overwhelming.
But to say all of someone's existence is a gift kinda feels demeaning of other's pain or maybe struggle to cope and could seem "you aren't doing good enough".

#12 Ozquoll

Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:04 PM

View Postcinnabubble, on 20 August 2019 - 04:49 PM, said:

If you must be born, die as soon as you can. Just as a counterpoint to the OP.
Actually, I have a certain amount of sympathy with the anti-natalist position. I also appreciate the view put forward by Colbert. I think there's a lot of value in recognising the suffering inherent in life, and embracing all our experiences, positive or negative.

#13 GnomeDePloom

Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:12 PM

I've noticed that religious people feel more of a need to feel 'grateful' for their misfortunes/circumstances. Whether it's for a need to justify the god's actions, being all-knowing and all-seeing or needing to rationalise it being "god's gift" or "god's lesson" because otherwise it's a hateful careless deity flinging destruction on people willy-nilly.

I do see that people can be aware of how the fact that they experienced something bad can make them more sympathetic or empathetic, because they understand a bit of what the other person has experienced, without needing a religion, because that's how I live. But I don't feel grateful for the bad thing that happened. It just happened. The wisdom going forward is figuring out how to avoid having it happen again, particularly to other people, and passing that knowledge on.

#14 SelceLisbeth

Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:10 PM

What a load of tripe. Just another person trying to tell everyone else how they are doing it wrong. That is not wisdom, its self-righteousness.

I can hate the many traumas I have experienced and suffering I have endured all I bloody well like. That isnt to say I dont also feel incredibly lucky about many things in my life and, yes, gratitude to be alive, mostly. Trauma response is individual and depends on all kinds of variables. I would venture to say that most people with his attitude have had effective and comprehensive support networks to help them. That is worthy of gratitude, not the trauma.

ETA: Sorry, OP, that was probably a bit harsh. I am glad you found it helpful. Dont get me wrong, negative experiences and feelings are important in life as lessons and as part of living life, but trauma isnt IMHO.

Edited by SelceLisbeth, 20 August 2019 - 07:10 PM.

#15 chicken_bits

Posted 20 August 2019 - 07:35 PM

I think there's something incredibly powerful and freeing that comes from acceptance of a particular situation or trauma that one has gone through.

I don't know that acceptance is the same as gratitude though.

#16 Avocado tree

Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:00 PM

No one says you have to agree.  I saw some of the interview and was very moved .  Putting aside some of what was said, it was refreshing to see two grown men being very open and vunerable. Tears were shed on camera.  I love both of these men so abit biased.

Also need to remember that Stephen Colbert has a strong Catholic faith which of course informs his thinking.

EDited to add, that I found nothing self righteous about any of what either of the two were staying.

Edited by Avocado tree, 20 August 2019 - 08:01 PM.

#17 Vicbitt9

Posted 21 August 2019 - 10:26 AM

View Postchicken_bits, on 20 August 2019 - 07:35 PM, said:

I think there's something incredibly powerful and freeing that comes from acceptance of a particular situation or trauma that one has gone through.

I don't know that acceptance is the same as gratitude though.

I find that I have acceptance for some trauma and other trauma reaches up to bite me in the ass when I least expect it.
Having just had my second voluntary admission to a mental health hospital I agree with SL, support networks that people have are probably the most important thing to help when trauma rears its ugly head.
Dealing with it is very individual so I’m not going to say anything about that, I couldn’t cope with life for a while and now I’m feeling a bit stronger.
I do know that this community on EB has often helped me cope immensely even if I haven’t engaged in the discussion, and have just been a reader. The beauty that shines through as strength and capacity to still love after trauma that is evident with many amazing posters is what I have gratitude for because that to me is something to definitely be grateful for and to feel humbled by the fact  that those same strong amazing women are willing to share their struggles and life’s regular sh*t and be truly vulnerable. A more simple post would probably just have said “Thank you”!

#18 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 21 August 2019 - 10:29 PM

View PostSelceLisbeth, on 20 August 2019 - 06:10 PM, said:

have had effective and comprehensive support networks to help them. That is worthy of gratitude, not the trauma.

SL nails it again. I often ‘feel grateful that it’s not worse’ or reflect on how bad it could have been if xyz (support) hadn’t been there.  And then I think about how that’s really negative thinking!

Going to try to frame it positively going forward. I’m glad I had xyz to help with that. And not stew on ‘how bad it could have been’.

#19 CallMeFeral

Posted 21 August 2019 - 11:42 PM

I've been listening to some buddhist stuff lately and also reading on ACT and I think there is some merit to the accepting that "life involves suffering" types of things, and also that suffering is a path to growth. And even that we can aim to embrace some kinds of pain as learning experiences, and recognise them as opportunities to grow.

But I can't go as far as to say that all pain brings growth/strength/learning. Sometimes pain just breaks and destroys people. The lucky get to grow from it - and even then the growth may not be worth what was lost. The unlucky get worse from it.

As for life being a gift, I struggle to get on board with that. I kind of see what they mean, and a part of me thinks that each of us has that belief deep down somewhere or we'd have killed ourselves already (although I guess once you have kids as responsibilities it's not so easy). But it's not something I'm easily able to tap into.

#20 Riotproof

Posted 21 August 2019 - 11:59 PM

I don't think there's anything wrong with what he said. It's not where I am, but I feel as though there is a blessing to realising that things that happen have made you who you are.

i object to it on levels of violence, sexual assault and crime. In those instances, you become who you are despite of instead of because of.

#21 Mister Mum

Posted 22 August 2019 - 12:09 AM

Attached File  flat,1000x1000,075,f.u1.jpg   70.42K   75 downloads

#22 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 22 August 2019 - 07:34 AM

personally i’ve never gone in much for the so called “dignity” of suffering, the necessity of suffering - the wisdom you gain from suffering. i’ve seen people suffer terrible things, i’ve had the odd trying time myself. you just get through it, you survive, or - you know - you don’t.  it’s just a made up philosophy to make people feel better about their lot in life, and not question stuff - or delve into deep self despair. which, may have some merit in some circumstances but it’s essentially a lie.

suffering happens, it usually happens for no reason, it happens to good people and sometimes by passes bad people. it’s random - life is random, and essentially we don’t matter. none of this matters - we are just a rock revolving around an insignificant star in an infinite universe.

#23 EsmeLennox

Posted 22 August 2019 - 08:53 AM

What a load of sanctimonious twaddle. It’s not s gift to exist, it’s just a biological fact. We humans like to lay all sorts of philosophical (and theological) thinking around our existence...but fact is Earth and everything on it is just a coming together of a bunch of scientific coincidences. I think rather than viewing ourselves as ‘special’...of which there seems to be an element here...we need to view ourselves as part of an ecosystem. We should feel connected to that and stop stuffing up if we want our ‘gift’ of existence to continue.


Edited by EsmeLennox, 22 August 2019 - 08:55 AM.

#24 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:00 AM

Colbert was raised catholic - not sure if he still practises - but, yeh....that explains it ....

#25 CallMeFeral

Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:28 PM

View PostLucrezia Borgia, on 22 August 2019 - 07:34 AM, said:

personally i’ve never gone in much for the so called “dignity” of suffering, the necessity of suffering - the wisdom you gain from suffering. i’ve seen people suffer terrible things, i’ve had the odd trying time myself. you just get through it, you survive, or - you know - you don’t.  

No to the 3rd one - the wisdom from suffering. That can be real. Not universal, but it happens. I've seen a lot of people grow wiser from suffering. I've grown wiser from suffering. I consider it part of the gift of ageing - experiencing discomfort which pushes us to think more deeply, differently, and learn things that we didn't know about ourselves when we were young, beautiful, healthy, but also naive.
Yes, some people just 'get through' it. And for some that works for as long as they need it to, without having to grow much. And for some that only works up to a point, and then it becomes too much they need help and new tools. And that drives a search that ends in making them wiser people.

I would never say that everyone gets that benefit. It's almost an optimal level of suffering you need to get that benefit - too little and you just lump it, too much and you can't bear it and fall apart or kill yourself. But in between there is a point where it pushes people to grow and learn instead of stagnate. And those who have been through it recognise how it has changed them and made them wiser.

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