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🖋️ Last updated: 6-3-24 | 🗎 Originally posted: 5-5-24

Gratitudism: my Worldview

The essence of my worldview is life is a mystery; all living organisms exhibit a will to live; a pattern can be observed such that life over vast amounts of time evolves (or advances); thus, at the least, we can appreciate this advancement (made possible by evolution) as teleological (as purposeful); therefore, a way to facilitate advancement is to value life through practicing gratitude. I call my worldview gratitudism, and it is subject to continual refinement.


I developed my worldview for the following personal reasons:

1.  to ward off the feeling of nihilism;

2.  to create and offer something of value;

3.  to attain wisdom;

4.  to lessen my fear of the Christian God;

5.  to establish and maintain structure for my wandering, wondering mind; and

6.  to lessen the intensity of my self-hate.

Epistemology & Ontology

Will to Live

Life, as we know it, exists in all living organisms, and all living organisms exhibit a will to live. The definition of "organism" is inclusive of all carbon-based, and possibly yet to be discovered non-carbon-based, life forms. Such life forms may be single-celled organisms or fully developed, complex systems such as human adults.


Scientists have not been able to explain why there is a will to live in living organisms. They have only been able to expose the pattern of evolution (theory of evolution) and are careful not to attribute a purpose to it. I am, admittedly, not as careful when I infer that evolution is the manifestation of the will to live that has spontaneously led to an expansion and optimization of life. Why there would be an overall effort to optimize life, I do not know. It is my leap of faith. Nevertheless, I remain open to arguments both for and against the teleology of evolution.


As for epistemology, when it comes to trying to understand everything, I tend to favor the scientific method and deep contemplation. Nevertheless, I cannot altogether disprove the possibility that knowledge can be acquired by divine revelation. Furthermore, in the ongoing pursuit of deeper understanding, an openness towards divine revelation, may contribute to a fertile enhancement of knowledge acquisition by way of human imagination. Albert Einstein captured the essence of this when he suggested that imagination was more important than knowledge.


In determining an ontological foundation for gratitudism, I consider three fundamental elements: the will to live, conscious awareness, and physical existence. Since the will to live and conscious awareness are both intangible, I consider immaterialism to be a possible reality, and thus I include its concepts (idealism and solipsism) in my ongoing meditations (see appendix A). As for my physical existence, it obviously contributes greatly to my preference for materialism as the prime reality. Moreover, I favor a naturalistic explanation for the existence of human consciousness and therefore am willing to accept that human consciousness may be the result of mere chemical reactions. In addition, there is one more ontological aspect I consider to be a possible reality—dualism, which is the idea that the two intangible elements (noted above) are embedded in the one physical element. I cannot satisfactorily reject dualism since currently human knowledge seems to be limited or constrained to a specific scale of understanding.

Also, I recognize there are many mysteries that have yet to be solved. However, since I favor naturalism, I consider the following ontological mysteries as notable since the scientific method has been (and continues to be) rigorously applied to them.

•   There is no objective evidence of divine intelligence within our human ability to detect and measure.

•   We do not know conclusively how the Universe was created or what existed before it.

•   We cannot foresee the future.

•   We do not know whether or not there exists an afterlife or if reincarnation is possible.

Therefore, the epistemology and ontology of gratitudism is mostly based on agnosticism.


Value of Life

The highest value of all life is life. However, I recognize there is an inherent conflict between a respect for life and the need to take life for survival.


The following imperatives are fundamental to gratitudism.

•   Choose to feel gratitude instead of resentment since a festering resentment in the mind can lead to the worst of fatalistic human behaviors.

•   Respect life as much as possible by viewing it through the lens of dignity and by avoiding complicity in the suffering of life, both within yourself and in other living organisms. The Golden Rule is helpfully applicable here. I especially favor the Neo-pagan version of it: "Do what thou wilt but harm ye none."

•   Preserve life as much as possible within an optimal balance for growth. This means refrain from killing things unnecessarily like weeds, insects, etc. However, all ecological environments (ecosystems) need to sustain balance for growth, which would entail the culling of animals and thinning of plants.

•   Align with evolution's optimization and expansion of life by supporting the ultimate effort to expand life beyond Earth such that it will not compromise life on Earth nor destroy other life beyond Earth.

•   Engage in the pursuit of knowledge to discover ways to assist evolution’s optimization and expansion of life.

•   Choose efficiency over wastefulness for the sake of all living organisms. Mahatma Gandhi stated it well when he said: "Live simply so that others may simply live."


The essential part of gratitudism is developing and maintaining a deep sense of gratitude by engaging in deliberate practice. People may practice differently depending on their personality, and overtime a variety of practices may change and or be adapted. Since I am an introvert, I have tailored the following practices to fit my abilities and tendencies.


I create a one-page list of things for which you I'm grateful. Naturally, I often repeatedly list many of the same things because sometimes I can never be grateful enough.


I study the world’s wisdom about gratitude and respect for life by looking for it in literature, scriptures, philosophical treatises, etc.


I go alone on gratitude outings to focus on the feeling of gratitude and how easy it fills me when I'm in nature. I bring a journal with to express my gratitude in writing.


I celebrate each change of season by expressing my gratitude in a symbolic gesture to myself and sometimes to others. I create my own rituals or borrow from the world’s religions. Gift giving, letter writing, engaging in a random act of kindness, etc. are all possibilities of how to celebrate the changing of the season.


Sporadically, I engage in om-chanting meditation. Imagining the feeling of gratitude both entering and exiting my mind and body has been effective in reminding me of how much gratitude there is available in the Universe.

APPENDIX A: Meditations

Axiological Meditations

Animal Rights

As I see it, any living organism is a vessel filled with life, and that vessel is as valuable in essence as any other, especially in their role in contributing to an ecosystem. Animals, therefore, ought to be protected. They have the right to existence. Thus, humans must avoid the destruction of animal habitat by maintaining a balance between human and animal habitat.


Killing occurs in nature. It occurs within the same groups of organisms as well as among different types of organisms, and very often between individual human organisms. Reasons for killing include:

1.  sustenance (food)

2.  defense

3.  competition for resources

4.  territorial disputes

5.  compassion (mercy killing)

6.  unintentional or accidental incidents

7.  capital punishment

8.  culling and thinning

In the case of sustenance, humans can make the choice to kill to eat or can refrain from killing by eating only foods they can harvest (that will not compromise the plant) such as some fruit, nuts, and seeds. Naturally, the choice is not binary. They can choose a combination of killing and harvesting. I use the 80-20 rule when it comes to eating. This means I am a vegetarian 80% of the time and allow myself to eat meat 20% of the time.

In the case of defense, one ought to be extraordinarily careful to avoid killing senselessly. However, killing to protect yourself against a legitimate imminent threat is justifiable.

In the case of killing due to a competition for resources, killing may or may not be justifiable. It would be justifiable if the resources (only vital resources such as water) were being greedily hoarded, wasted, or deliberately destroyed by fewer individuals, groups, or countries than the resources equally dispersed could save. However, if the resources were frivolous and not vital, such as tulips, killing would not be justified. Nevertheless, one would have to consider the vital role of certain resources in certain environments or globally as is the case with the oceans and atmosphere.

In the case of killing over territorial disputes, killing is mostly not justified, especially at the level of individuals. Territorial disputes must be adjudicated whenever possible. Force is justifiable in the case of deliberate and violent invasions of territories. Deadly force is justifiable only when the invading individual or group (such as an army) is using deadly force themselves.

In the case of compassion or mercy killing, killing is justifiable when the suffering individual or individuals consent to being killed or if legal preparations have been made beforehand in the case of inability to consent.

In the case of unintentional or accidental killing, justification does not apply. The event is a pure and dreadful tragedy.

In the case of capital punishment, killing is not justifiable. Two wrongs don't make a right. First-degree and second-degree murderers should serve life in prison without the chance of parole.

As for culling and thinning animals and plants to facilitate balance and foster new growth, killing is permissible but must be done with the utmost of conservatism and maximum amount of efficiency. That is to say kill what is only necessary and use or recycle all of what is killed.

Life-long Learning


Ontological Meditations

Eternal Recurrence

There is an idea that I first encountered while studying Freidrich Nietzshe's work a number of years ago. He called it eternal recurrence. During a more recent conversation with a scientific-minded individual, he was able to flesh out eternal recurrence more appropriately for my understanding.

Basically, there's a hypothesis that suggests the Universe regularly expands and collapses, and if you consider that everything in the Universe follows the Laws of Nature or is essentially deterministic, then it might be possible that upon collapse, everything returns to where it started and expands exactly the same way again—repeatedly into infinity. This would mean that our birth, life, and death would repeat, and since we don’t exist during our non-existence, our repeating existence would essentially be (or have the effect of) a continuous existence despite that billions of years will have transpired between expand-collapse intervals. Of course, we don’t have a memory of our prior existences and certainly not of our non-existences. Moreover, when we do exist, it is always the same existence with the same events, etc. due to the deterministic Laws of Nature.

With regards to gratitudism, eternal recurrence resides in my mind with an ambivalent buoyancy. On the one hand, it's sort of a drag to repeat one's life over and over again. However, on the other hand, how uplifting to think the pleasure of gratitude can be experienced over and over again. As for my belief in this idea, obviously I remain agnostic since I cannot personally prove or disprove it. Nevertheless, I continuously look to scientists and deep thinkers to strengthen this hypothesis.

Teleological Meditations


APPENDIX B: Arguments

The value of individual vessels of life is not necessarily equal. Weeds and flies aren't as valuable as a highly intelligent and positively productive human, a human who is especially working towards the expansion of life beyond Earth, namely Elon Musk. Is Elon Musk justified in the detrimental environmental impact of some of his endeavors?

If practitioners of gratitudism were to let weeds grow in their yards, would their homes be considered candidates for blight?

Quite often, human flourishing seems to be at odds with preserving animal habitat. What is the appropriate balance between the two?

Extremists in the Jain religion go through extraordinary pains to reduce killing the life of other organisms. Gratitudism seems to have a similar bent. How does a person reach an acceptable level of killing to live?

Is gratitudism too reductionistic?

Gratitudism promotes an overall effort to be efficient, plus it promotes life sentences rather than the death penalty for convicted murderers, but isn't a death sentence more efficient than feeding and protecting a murderer for life?


"The pleasure of gratitude can dispel the misery of resentment."

"As a vessel of life, I take an interest in how much gratitude is in the mixture of my vessel."

"I'm able to witness the gratitude in me when I write in my gratitude journal."

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