“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.” (Thomas Paine)
We appreciate the things for which we worked hard because we understand their value after struggling so much to obtain them. Similarly, we take for granted things that we obtained easily, forgetting to appreciate them.
I personally learned this lesson through direct experience. When I was around 18 years old, I received an inheritance of about $40,000 split into 2 separate payments of $20,000 from the death of my father. I immediately socked away $16,000 into an Wealthfront IRA and a Vanguard mutual fund while using the rest to live on for about the next 2 and a half years. I spent the rest of that inheritance on books, courses, food, short traveling trips, business ventures, fun and other ordinary expenses.
Now, why do I bring this up? I bring it up because there’s a major lesson to be learned here for myself and other people. You will not likely completely value what you don’t earn. I valued a lot of that money and used it for future and immediate, practical purposes. But, I also spent more than I really should have in hindsight and I could have managed it in a much more efficient way.
This brings me to this very simple but profound concept: Earn your things and you will appreciate them much more.
How can we value the things that we do receive that we didn’t earn?
From my experience, a few things come to mind:
- Think For Your Future Self: Engage in an mental exercise called Future Episodic Thinking. Before making a decision, think about the future and how that decision will make an impact on your future self as opposed to your current self. For example, if you receive an inheritance of $10,000 then before you receive that money, think about how it will impact your future self if you use it wisely and go over all of the opportunity costs that there are.
- Write Down Opportunity Costs: Take a piece of paper and write down all of the potential things that you can do with whatever you receive. Deliberately choose what the most effective choices are and execute on them.
- Connect With Your Why: Get in touch with something much deeper if you receive something that you didn’t earn. Get in touch with emotions such as gratitude, peace, presence, so on and so forth.
In short, work hard for the things that you want and be wise if you do happen to stumble upon something that you didn’t earn. By doing this, you will not only accelerate your progress in life but you will also appreciate things in a much deeper way.