Earned or given, which has more value for you?

This is another in a series of posts derived from my book, “Sustainable You,” which asks the question, “why work to sustain the planet if we’re not working to sustain ourselves?”

In the battle between easy and hard, easy is most people’s overwhelming favorite. But we value hard more than many recognize.

If, for example, you have even the slightest interest in woodworking, which piece would you value more, the imperfect table you worked to design and create, or the ordinary piece you bought at IKEA?

I’m not saying that the IKEA table wouldn’t be adequate, or the right choice given your circumstances. But which one would you value more?

Who’s more likely to value having a fortune, the woman who worked hard to create it, or the child who inherited it?

This phenomenon isn’t true only for material goods. Would you say that most people are more likely to like the boy/girl who chases after them, trying to impress, or the one whom they had to pursue, even a little?

How about the college degree? Do you think you’d value the one that represents four years of your toil, or the one conferred on you because you made a big contribution to the school?

Chocolate Chip Cookie DietI raise these examples in the context of healthy personal change. In many instances, we don’t want to change the choices we’re making. We want to escape the inevitable-but-annoying outcomes of our choices.

First, that is not likely to happen. Get-rich-quick schemes, the chocolate-chip-cookie diet, a genie in a bottle — you know that’s all crap, right? 

But also: Working toward something actually increases its value to us!

Yes, easy is nice, but consider, when you’re deciding what you could do for yourself, hard rocks too. 

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
make investments in employee wellbeing that pay off in corporate success.
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