What Is My Net Worth?

Recently a very special friend of mine sent me a gift that by my standards at least, was unusually generous. It was not something I had asked for and not something I would have expected him or anyone else to offer. It was so unexpected and so generous, in fact, that my first response was to say it was too much and that I couldn’t accept. I was in the process of turning it down when he cut me off and basically said, “Please don’t make this something to feel guilty or obligated about. This is a way for me to give back to you.”

He began to list for me some of the ways that he felt our friendship had benefited him. And as he did, I started wondering about my own sense of worth and the way I was comparing his gifts to those he was saying he had received from me—and feeling that whatever I had given him was somehow less than what he was suddenly offering to me.

It reminded me of a stream of gifts that have been flowing into my life over a period of many months now, and from many sources. People have just been giving me things—unsolicited, unexpected, wonderful expressions of affection or gratitude or friendship. It’s not the first time I’ve wondered why or what it was that prompted these generosities, but it was the first time I really confronted my own sense of worth in the process . . . the first time I had really wondered specifically if I was somehow unworthy or undeserving of all this. It made me wonder—and ask—what am I really worth? And what criteria am I using to determine that worth?

It is a very curious system that you have all devised and accepted as the norm, this measuring of your value in dollars and cents. Monetary or financial gain—what you sometimes call “net worth”—has become the way that you define success. It affects your lives in more ways than you even realize and perhaps the most profound effect that it has is to consistently separate you from Source, from the You who remembers who you really are. You judge each other based on this criteria but even worse is your judgment of yourselves for what you think you lack compared to anyone who you perceive as having more.

These gifts that have come to you have been gifts in more ways than what is obvious to you. Beyond any physical value that they may have had or any comfort or pleasure they may have afforded you, they have been opportunities, each and every one, for you to recognize the value that you add to these connections—value that, instead of seeing and appreciating and accepting, you often minimize or dismiss altogether because it is not in the form that you feel is considered real or valid or truly worth something.

Your friends can say to you repeatedly how much you are appreciated on any number of levels for any number of reasons but when that appreciation is expressed to you in a physical or material way that you feel you cannot match, you hold yourself back from the fullness of joy available to you, and you focus instead upon your own judgment of the ways that you have not effectively equaled their success or attained their level of this specific form of prosperity.

In other words, as one of your sayings goes, you look a gift horse in the mouth, when instead there is a wealth of appreciation and mutual joy available on both sides of the giving if you will only allow yourself to understand that your worth has nothing to do with what you have accumulated.

Your sages and philosophers and prophets and teachers have been saying this for as long as any of you have been on the planet but it only seems to get harder and harder for you to hear and believe. There is most definitely joy in abundance. There is great happiness in prosperity and that joy is available to any of you . . . but the joy that comes to you through abundance has nothing to do with any measurement of your success that puts you in competition with another. The joy that comes through abundance is the joy of recognition, the joy of understanding that there is no lack, that there is no grading or judging or winning or losing in the honest exchange of appreciation.

Your friends give to you out of appreciation for you in the ways that they are able to give. You can choose to make those gifts your opportunity to feel the abundance that is flowing to you and through you—or to pinch off that abundance by giving your attention to some standard of self worth that you believe you have failed to meet. It is the difference between greed and gratitude, between envy and appreciation, between enjoyment and discouragement, between connection with Source and disconnection . . . and in this as in all matters pertaining to your experience of well being . . . it is entirely up to you.


At some point along the way to this message I remembered a song I sang in church when I was a child: “Count your blessings, name them one by one . . . “ When it’s blessings I’m counting, the blessings just seem to get bigger and bigger, but when I start counting bills and coins, for some reason, there seems to be an opposite effect.

I have an abundance of generous and caring people in my life. A reminder not only to value them, but to value the me that they’re appreciating, feels like a path to prosperity that is worth every step I can take. It is both humbling and exalting and most important, it leaves me, for the moment, feeling richly and gratefully complete.

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About Dan

Published novelist, poety, essayist, photographer and college educator. Visit me at www.firstadream.com.

Posted on August 9, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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