Tuesday, 25 January 2011

You Tell Me... How do we Value?

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!


D. said...

Yesterday I felt relaxed after a long time (exams exams exams) for no particular reason: I had a huge pimple on my nose, I had cram session looming, I was ignoring a friend on msn, but I had a chat with other two friends and that made me smile. None of us said anything special, it just felt good talking about silly things. So I made a note in my diary: "At this moment, I am calm. I am grateful that there are people in my life who make me smile." And today I woke up with a smile, which almost never happens (I'm grumpy in the morning). So, I guess the key for me is just to stop and charish... cherish lounging and watching tv, cherish beautiful books, cherish lovely people who surround me.

Amber-Rose Thomas said...

I just came across this post of yours again and I'm surprised I hadn't come across it before.

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I was very lucky growing up, I had everything I could have possibly needed. I wouldn't have said at the time that I was spoilt, but I was granted every opportunity my parents could afford to give me in the name of gaining life experience.

Looking back though, maybe I was "spoil", because I never I took all of this opportunity for granted. I never truly appreciated what I'd been given by my parents until I moved out, got some independence and realised how damn expensive things are. How hard it must be to balance pursuing your own life and aspirations with raising a family.

I still don't think I feel grateful enough sometimes, because I sometimes I still just 'expect' things rather than seeing them as a luxury. So, how do I value? I don't really know yet. But I try to appreciate all the little things people do for me now, because I realize their cost more than I did. Make sense?

Megan said...

Amber-Rose - I hear you! I don't think it helps anyone to feel guilty about how little we may have valued things we've received in the past, and your habit of 'expectation' is just that - a habit - and those can be tricky to shift.

It's the fact that you now recognise how lucky you've been that counts, and what you decide to do with that recognition. Perhaps a big, random thank you to your family might be in order? They'd appreciate it and you'll feel better in turn.

Amber-Rose said...

Quite true.
I do try to appreciate my mum a lot more than I used to, and help her out as much as I can.

I'm hoping that when I'm financially sorted I can take her on holiday. She really wants to go to Italy but wont go anywhere on her own since my parents divorced. Fingers crossed!

Btw, I love articles like these! You do have some true gems in your archives Megan. Archive August was an awesome idea of yours.


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