Check out this clip from a recent TED conference of Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB, a Benedictine monk, giving tips on how to make the gentle power of gratitude permeate our lives. Bro. David’s words resonated with me because I’ve discovered, in my own foggy way, that gratitude for the small things of life helps me to navigate a healthy path through some pretty serious grief.
TED talks are completely secular, and while Bro. David does not mention God even once in his 14 minute talk, anyone who takes his words seriously will soon be grappling with the question, “Grateful to Whom?” His words remind me of St. Paul’s advice: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes. 5:18
Here’s the clip:
TED, a nonprofit started in 1984, is dedicated to spreading good ideas. Originally it was a conference that brought people together from three different worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but it has enlarged its mission since then. TED conferences attempt to bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who try to convey their idea(s) in compelling talks lasting 18 minutes or less.
I was in my mother-in-law’s car port a few weeks ago, and I could not help hearing the radio program she had on at the time. It was so riveting that I stopped what I was doing and I sat down to listen to the whole half hour of it.
It turns out that Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. was presenting the fourth show in a thirteen-series EWTN program entitled, “Healing the Culture.” In it, Fr. Spitzer was presenting some tips on the four levels of happiness that he introduced in a previous show.
I cannot summarize Father’s presentation better than he can, so take a listen!
|[sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/audiolibrary/htc03.mp3″] Healing the Culture, Episode 3 (27:30 min)
|[sc_embed_player fileurl=”http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ewtn/audiolibrary/htc04.mp3″] Healing the Culture, Episode 4 (27:30 min)
The four levels of happiness he introduces, first discussed by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics and mentioned by Augustine in The Confessions, are:
- Laetus. Seeking basic needs, drives. Need for things.
- Felix. Seeking comparative advantage over others, ego gratification, achievement, winning, respect, and power.
- Beatitudo. Seeking to the good in others and doing good for others.
- Sublime Beatitudo. Seeking the ultimate truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being. (That’s God to us.)
These levels have everything to do with ethics and morality. Here are some of his points:
- All four levels are part of true happiness.
- But we get into great trouble when we approach the first three levels as ends in themselves.
- Levels one and two are default drives that we often fall back to.
- Levels three and four must be chosen.
- One level will be dominant in our lives.
The tips he gives in Episode 4 are excellent and they include 5 questions we can ask ourselves to see at what level(s) we are operating:
- What is my anxiety level?
- How am I connecting with people?
- Are people mysteries or are they problems?
- Is life an adventure or is life a problem?
- Do I have peace of mind?