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A man's feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
-- George Santayana


The MONTHLY Motivator - May 2004

Living With Value

Most people would agree that value, in whatever form it occurs, is desirable. Much of life is a continuing effort to obtain things of value, whether in the form of material objects, experiences, financial instruments, knowledge, influence, relationships or spiritual matters. This pursuit takes many forms. Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in an effort to obtain money. Money is closely identified with value because it can so easily be exchanged for many different kinds of value. We must remember, though, that money is not the core issue. In order to have money in the first place, and to use it for fulfillment in life, we must think in terms of value.

So let’s take an overall look at value -- what it is, how to recognize it, how to create it, and how to use it. We will look at how to uncover the “hidden” value and wealth in your life, and how to use this value to create even greater value for yourself and others. We will also look at how to exchange the value you possess for other things of value that you desire. In short, we will examine the many ways to add value to your life and the lives of others.

What is value

The dictionary has several definitions for value: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; the monetary worth or marketable price of something; relative worth, utility, or importance; something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable.

Value is most definitely subjective. A high-speed Internet connection would be of no value to someone with no computer. Yet someone who had the equipment and expertise to utilize it, would happily pay a premium price such a connection. So, in the end, you must define value for yourself by the things in your life that are important to you.

What’s so great about money?

Money is one of the most sought after forms of value. Many people think that money IS value -- that the two are one and the same. While that is definitely not true, the fact that so many people perceive it as such is testament to the extreme usefulness and value of money in the world today. Money is not the definition of value. However, in the practical, day-to-day lives of most people, it comes very close indeed.

Why is this? What is so great about money? By understanding why money is so valuable, we can better understand the nature of value itself.

The great thing about money is that its value is widely and easily recognized. Because of that, money can quickly and easily be exchanged for many other things of value. Money is not value itself, and it doesn’t even have any value of its own except as a compact, convenient way to store and exchange value. Money exists, and is useful, because we all have agreed upon (more or less) the rules for its use. For example, if there were no enforcement of the laws against counterfeiting, paper money would soon be completely worthless.

Money is not inherently “bad” or “good”. In fact, money is highly neutral, and that is one of its attractions. It is not burdened with judgment the way that many values are. The same dollar that was used last week to purchase cocaine might get used this week to buy food for a starving child.

Looking at the example of money illustrates an important point about value itself -- that it is highly subjective. Value is what we make it.

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--Ralph Marston

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