A University professor took £20 out of his pocket and asked his class of 200 students, ‘How many of you would like this note?’ All 200 hands went up. He said, ‘Before I let you have it, let me ask you this question’. He folded it in half and said, ‘How many of you want it now?’ All 200 hands went up. He replied, ‘Interesting’. Then he folded it again into four quarters, crumpled and scrunched it up, and asked them the question again, ‘How many of you want it now?’ All 200 hands went up. Finally, he threw the note on the floor, stood on it and rubbed his shoe, with the note underneath, into the dirt. He picked up the crumpled, dirty note and said, ‘How many of you want this note now?’ All 200 hands still went up.
He summarised, ‘Today you’ve learned an important lesson. No matter how much I crumpled up that note, no matter how much I scrunched it up, how many times it was trodden on, you still wanted it because it was still worth £20. In the same way that £20 note held its value, so do you’*.
We are not the value of our house, job title or bank balance. If someone doesn’t value you or the work you do – or doesn’t value your failures and lessons learned, your ups and downs – move on. As the saying goes, ‘your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth’.
One way to feel valuable is to find joy and purpose in an activity that doesn’t earn money, like volunteer work. But if you can’t volunteer for worthy causes, like The Autism Trust, Cat Cuddles or Crisis at Christmas, that’s not the point. You could create a hobby or something you know you won’t be judged on, to give new meaning to how you value yourself. You can serve someone you love – kids, parents, grandparents, friends – in any way possible. Gandhi said, ‘you find yourself when you lose yourself in the service of others’.
We are not the value of our house, job title or bank balance. Just to be clear. We hold our value from the day we are born, no matter what life throws at us. This seems simple but feels so important in these times of increasing mental health issues and soaring suicide rates.
* Source: Street Philosophy with Jay Shetty