Beyond Price Lies the Value of the Priceless
What is it that’s truly valuable, or invaluable, to us?
By: Hanna Maria, Simply Well Written
The economy is about prices and numbers. How much do you pay your employees? How much do I pay for the t-shirt? How much do I ask for my services? How much profit have I made?
The economy wants to make everything buy-able, sell-able and calculable by putting a price tag on it. Price and value are considered the same. And there seems to be a price for everything. Everything? No.
That’s because price and value are not the same. The number is not what holds the value. It is a means to an end, just a tool. The real value is in that which is priceless: people’s health and happiness, a thriving ecosystem, biodiversity, living one’s passion, time with close friends, being in love, safety at home and in community, kindness and appreciation at work, etc.
Value and Money
Even though we can use money to put a certain price (value) for a certain service of good, as this helps us trade, there is a difference between value and money. It in itself has no value, beyond the resource it is made of. It can merely represent a value that we agree the good holds we are trading.
Money has a purpose, it does not have life. Its value is that it is a tool for us to trade. It alone cannot feed me, house me, hold me, comfort me, give meaning to my life, or be that sunrise I will never forget.
Money is a servant with a very useful role. It does not want to be stored because it is a servant of trade. If used correctly, it always keeps travelling. If money itself is considered valuable, we hoard it and abuse it as a power-trump. And we confuse having lots of things with ‘being rich’, or happy.
What is it that is valuable to us?
OK, money and value are not the same. And so the questions remain:
What really matters to us?
What is it that’s truly valuable to us?
What are our actual needs?
What, in the deepest of our heart and being, is what we long for, what we want most?
These are big questions and everybody will answer them slightly differently. At the core of the human experience though is the need and want to be happy and healthy. We want to have loving human connection, having time for what makes one’s heart sing, having what one needs to thrive.
Whatever the answers are to what’s truly valuable to us, our economic model must serve that. After all, it was put in place to be of service to humanity. The core of its values must then be the core of the economy’s intentions.
The Well-Being Economy understands this and prioritizes that which is truly valuable: all our happiness, having the opportunity to thrive and live one’s passion and the well-being of our ecosystem.
It seems so simple. We all have the right to live a happy, thriving and abundant life within a happy and thriving environment. That is what is valuable. If the economic system values something completely different and partly destroys what is valuable, it needs to change.
The blind spot of our economic value system
Our economy chases after some GDP (Gross Domestic Product: A measure of the value of the total production in a country, usually in a given year.), which is supposed to indicate the economic well-being of a nation.
Following this definition of value, the fish must be worth more dead than alive. The tree worth more felled, rather than thriving and housing life itself. It’s all about products and production. People are trapped in a kind of ‘modern slavery’. They just survive while working most hours on most days. It is not their well-being, but what profit they bring through their work that’s considered valuable.
By this standard, if an employee’s contribution brings more money to a business than it costs to hire them, then value is being created, even if the nature of the employment destroys the employees health and happiness. Those ‘intangible’ costs don’t appear on the balance sheet, so they don’t count into today’s value equations.
Peoples’ lifetime and good quality of life, the life of the fish or tree, the well-being of planet earth, … That which is beyond price is absent in the equations of our economy. It does not know the priceless, that which is so, so valuable that it is invaluable.
If the economy cannot consider the essential value of the priceless in our lives, we ourselves have to make sure that the invaluable has a place in our economy.
For that, we have to come back to ourselves and ask the questions above. And over time act and live more and more in alignment with the answers that came.
Valuing the priceless
The current economic system values an empty, mental concept – profit and money – over Life itself, and the happiness and preciousness thereof. It does not see or understand that Life on Earth is alive, filled with spirit and beauty and that all life forms are inherently valuable. It cannot fathom that it is intimately interconnected with all it wants to ‘make money and profit from’.
While this system values prices and numbers, something that is ‘dead’, while it considers everything a commodity, here on earth things are alive and life is the real value.
Life is what matters here, the life and well-being of all beings. Any system we use must value and serve life. It is who we are and also what sustains us. That which we and our well-being is deeply woven into. It is priceless.
When placing a price tag on life (i.e. on a tree) – and confusing that with its actual value – precious, lovable life loses its wordless infinity. It now is something to measure, take, buy, swap, or sell.
Society is made of people. Our world is made of all kinds of life. We all share life, each as parts of an ecosystem that works super well if it’s healthy and in balance. Our communities and environment make our world and reality. Surely then, the healthy and thriving of people and the environment, all of nature, should be the most important thing. It should always be at the core of our interests; that which we value the most.
While the old economy has confused price with value and started giving value to something abstract that does not serve life or humanity, we can now gradually come back to re-aligning the ways we do business so that what is actually important and of value to us is at its centre.