Sometimes, when I am looking up an actor or someone famous on Google that I want to know more about, what always comes up, (besides height, spouses, children) is Net Worth. I have to admit that sometimes I click on that, out of a weird habitual curiosity. Of course, the answer online is always measured in dollars. And yet I find that particular perspective on Net Worth never moves me or impresses me. Actually, neither does their body of work. I always wonder: Are they happy? Or has their life been hard? Or how kind have they been as they climbed their way to the top of the “Success Mountain?”
“How do we measure the worth of our lives? Why are we here? What is our true value? What criteria do we use to weigh our Worth? What is the spreadsheet we refer to in determining whether we have lived a life that mattered?” — From my book Beyond the Bookclub: We are the Books We Must Read
I suppose when we examine these questions through the nine basic lenses of The Enneagram, with their three primary centers of intelligence, (Head, Heart, and Body/Gut) we might see that our spreadsheets can look very different depending on our beliefs about what we determine is most important. The amount of security we have created, financially and emotionally might be one way of looking at our worth? The amount of love, admiration or appreciation we have received might tip the scales in a different kind of assessment of our worth. Or the amount of independence, power and autonomy we have claimed as ours, might be yet another way we measure our worth.
I am going to propose that perhaps all these assessment tools are faulty and even somewhat delusional. Because I would ask, how much money is really enough to feel secure? How much appreciation is enough to feel truly deserving? And how much power is enough to never feel vulnerable again?
“The dying have taught me one great lesson that I never would have learned without their help: Most people are not afraid of dying; they are afraid of not having lived.” —Living a Life That Matters, Harold S. Kushner
A funny thing we used to do with my parents when we would be driving away from the cemetery, after visiting my grandparents’ gravestone, was to come up with what we wanted written on our headstones. We came up with some pretty hilarious stuff. We had some really good laughs about ourselves. And yet, we were serious. My dad wanted, Beloved this and that and “This is the best life I’ve ever had.” And… “Now was the time.” My mom wanted, Beloved this and that and “Please be careful! And call me when you get there.” Of course, we honored their requests, because it spoke to how they had lived. I still am deciding about my own verbal legacy.
So, what really matters to you? At the end of the day, as you tuck yourself in for sleep and a few hours of non-doing, what makes you look back and say to yourself, “I really lived today.”
Did I full embody and embrace whatever happened that day: challenging, painful, easeful, or joyful?
The deepest answers to those questions might guide you toward the intention you choose to begin your next morning with. How do you choose to live your next day? How do you point yourself in the direction that organically holds your truest sense of worth without trying to prove anything at all?
“In my twenties I went to see a few spiritual psychics to help me see things from a bigger perspective. One Medium, who had a Spirit Guide named Desi, made an exceptionally strong impression on me. I was struggling around my sense of Worth, as was my pattern then and is still my pattern now (this is not something that goes away easily or ever). She asked me what would be enough to prove that I was Worthy? What would be enough to prove that my life mattered? I was caught because I knew I had no answer. I knew right then; nothing would be enough. I was trapped in a belief about myself that could never be over-ridden. And then she told me, in her very weird but extremely powerful voice, that the baby who is born, takes one breath, and then dies, is Worth every bit as much as the greatest teacher in the world; that the gift of life itself is what matters. Everything else is striving to prove some unattainable, and perhaps misguided expectation. Perhaps our Worth is really to be measured by each breath we take and the gratitude we show for this awesome opportunity of living.” –Beyond the Bookclub
French philosopher René Descartes said “I think, therefore I am.” Or maybe we could simply say, “I feel therefore I am. I sense, therefore I am. I love, therefore I am.” Or better yet, I breathe, therefore I am. And I cherish each and every breath I am blessed to take, up until the very last one.