How do you measure a person’s value?

I will ask you a daring question: How do you describe and measure a person’s value? This, surprisingly, is not an easy task. The most common way we perceive an individual’s value seems to be based on one’s professional background or materialistic assets – where he/she works, what position he/she holds, where he/she lives, who he/she befriends, who he/she knows, and what family he/she has.

This begs me to think: Is this why we sometimes feel lost when we don’t have a job, don’t get the education we want, and don’t get the wealth we want? Because we don’t have some job or community that we can affiliate our identity with? Is this why we feel uncomfortable when we don’t have some high profile when we introduce ourselves to others because we think we are not as valuable as the other individual who has a high profile? Is this why we often judge others unconsciously based on his or her professional background even before we know this person? Perhaps… Unfortunate, yes, but truth.

Especially in a city like Washington, D.C. such type of introduction is typical. This typical introduction, however, is not the correct way to measure one’s value as a being. These information about an individual may be correct but they do not provide a complete picture of who you are. If you were really just as valuable as you described yourself with your work, you will be worthless if you did not have that work or that title. But the truth is, no, you were still a valuable individual before that and after this.

Furthermore, value measurement itself is a subjective measurement. We are valued by different people for different reasons. To some it could be your artistic sense and love for cooking and to others it could be your geeky sense of humor and great sense of direction and planning. It doesn’t matter. And that’s beautiful and wonderful! But this is where we got it wrong again. You are not valuable because you are valued by others. You are valuable because you value yourself.

We need to stop let society describe who we are based on our jobs, education and background. That is only part of who you are. Instead we need to start describing ourselves and valuing ourselves as what we want to be valued as. We need to seek more understanding about who we are as an individual. Your career is not your life. Your amazing job is a complimentary to who you are. And you as a being is so much more then this job that will most likely change in few years. So let’s start asking better questions such as how would we describe ourselves if we thought about what our contribution in this life is? What inspires you? How do you best help others? How would you like to describe yourself? What do you love about your life? What makes you most alive and happy about your life? These are questions we need to spend more time thinking about and asking.

The questions we ask and the assumptions we make today when we think of ‘how I measure my value as a being and others’ is inadequate. It shouldn’t be based on ‘where I work and live’ but rather ‘who I am and how I share my life with others.’ But we can’t describe our values as a being if we don’t think and ask these questions about ourselves first. We should spend more time thinking ‘how do I want to live my life’ instead of ‘living a life that the society told us is ideal.’

So, I challenge you to rethink and ask yourself, how would you measure your value as a being? What life do you want to live?

Copyright © 2014. Monica H. Kang, All Rights Reserved.
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