The Value Of Things

The fee for the weekly seminars I’m planning will be donation-based. It means people will be asked to pay whatever they think the two hours has been worth for them. I have spoken to a few people about this and have been told that such an arrangement is not that straightforward. It turns out that we find it difficult to place a value on things. We are not short of desire – there are countless things we want; things we are told we should have, and that we are convinced will make us happy – but when it comes to placing a value on them, we struggle.

It seems we rely too much on price tags to convey the cost, or we expect others to tell us how much something is worth. This is such an ingrained part of our behaviour that when the onus is on us to make a valuation, we are prone to feelings of confusion, reluctance, even resentment. The confusion arises because we are not used to such open-ended arrangements – that particular muscle is rarely exercised. In addition, we can feel pressured into paying more than we would ordinarily pay, because we don’t want to be seen as cheap. Or we pay less than we genuinely feel something is worth, because we are too distracted by the chance to save money. Less common but of greater consequence, our resentment at being put in such a position can make us turn our back and walk away. After all, why should I have to make a decision on the value of something when I am so used to others doing it for me?

The thing is, we make those valuations all the time, even if we don’t realise it. Every time we look at a price tag, we use the numbers to make an informed decision about whether to buy or not. In doing so, we place a clear value on the product or service in relation to ourselves and our resources. So, just as with every other aspect of who we are, we need only become more aware of what we are already doing, because when we bring our behaviour into greater awareness, we simultaneously evaluate and define who we are. It’s the same when we set our personal boundaries or formulate the principles by which we live our life. Each time we define ourselves, we offer ourselves the opportunity to grow. And whenever we grow, we naturally add value.

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