Image thanks to team dalog
How much do you value your life? That may sound like a question posed by an irate bookie wielding a crowbar in a back-alley basement, but it’s a question worth considering. I don’t mean your life simply as opposed to your death, because of course then we all start stammering and pleading for the chance to go on living; I mean how much do you value the individual pieces of your life; the components that make up the abstract whole.
It has always been a struggle for me to feel gratitude – not in the sense of saying thank you, or sending a letter to my grandmother after a banknote flutters out of my birthday card – that’s simply good manners. I mean 100%, wholeheartedly, feeling it.
A lot of life is spent going through the motions: following our animal instincts for comfort, security, perhaps with just a little style and recognition. We have the opportunity to go to university so we can get well-paying jobs so we can get mortgages so we can get houses so that we can raise families... We join the dots. But when do we stop to question all this and what it means to us?
I’ve had an upbringing pretty in-conducive to experiencing a sense of value for what I receive, for what I’ve pinpointed as two main reasons:
a) I’ve had a lot: in terms of money, in terms of education, in terms of affection. Therefore, I’ve never been able to get to the root of what how much this all means; I’ve simply been greedy, asked for more, increased my expectations, and taken it all for granted.
b) I’m British, and it is not a British thing to gush. Sentimentality is not a card you openly play where I’m from; we’re supposed to quietly go about our lives in an orderly and harmonic manner, stopping to tip our caps or shake hands at appropriate intervals.
But I now think that, once we start to value things, life gains more significance; we become increasingly more conscious, and subsequently happier. I don’t just want to say ‘Hey – thanks!’ for all that I have, I want gratitude to permeate me; I want to know, and want others to know, how much every helping gesture, every spare penny, every act of love, illuminates and rewards me. What I want to know, is how to value, I mean really value, if it is more than just saying it aloud.
Perhaps a true sense of value is achieved through a habit of vulnerability.
I’ll explain. When we are prepared to be vulnerable we are able to express truer emotions, stripped of their egotism. When we are prepared to be vulnerable we are prepared to be wrong, to say sorry, and to amend. I know that when I have the guts to put my pride on the line and admit that a lot of what I cherish is down to the specific generosity of individuals, that’s when I really feel humbled and truly grateful. But is there more to it than this? Because value is more than just gratitude, it is the continuous sensation of possessing something precious. How do we value?
You tell me!