What Price Will You Pay for the Best Things in Life?

Bill Abbate

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What do you consider worth having in life? Something of worth in the sense that it will last a lifetime and may outlive you.

You’ve heard it said many times that the material things we spend so much of our lives and earnings on are temporary. This is also true for anything the five senses can interact with, including our physical body.

You can buy all the homes, cars, boats, and planes you want if you have enough money, but the things we are discussing are not purchasable with any amount of money. They are far more valuable.

While a home may last hundreds of years, little else will survive even a few decades. Despite the cost of a car today, they are practically disposable, which is true for anything you purchase. Even that home you buy will likely be sold after you are gone.

Let me share the quote that led me to examine this idea of what is worth having in life. The gentleman was a literary naturalist and nature essayist who was active in the early conservation movement in the United States.

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the goal of real service.” John Burroughs (1837-1921)

His words contain true wisdom, do they not? Each of us must pay the price for anything truly worth having. Their value is far beyond anything money can buy. The only way to obtain such things is by working with patience, love, and self-sacrifice. No amount of money or indebtedness can ever pay for it. It is only through your efforts, who you are, and how you serve that you can obtain them.

What is worth having in life?

“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” Andrew Carnegie” (1835-1919)

While we can argue some things money will buy are necessary and worth having, that misses the point. Sure, we need a vehicle for transportation, a roof over our head, food on the table, and other necessities in life. Yet one day, there will be little need for any of them.

The perspective we are discussing is when you get to the end of life and look back, what was truly worth having? What has so much meaning no amount of money could purchase it?

Some things that come to mind include:

  • The love of a spouse and your love for them
  • The love of a child, a friend, every meaningful relationship, and your love for them
  • Belonging to a community and the identity it provides
  • Your home, but more importantly, the homelife and lifestyle you built and will pass on in your family
  • Those things that create a legacy in your life
  • The examples set by your belief and all that you did to follow God
  • Memories passed on for generations
  • Your health and the health of others
  • Few regrets

The important thing to note about each of these things worth having in life is they make you who you are. They show what you value, and you are who you are because of that value. A simple way to say this is, what you find worth having shapes your life.

For example, Jane, my wife, makes me a husband, a companion, a friend, and a brother-in-law to her sisters. Being connected to Jane and her family is part of my identity. I am who I am in part because they make my life worth having.

I would love to have added one more item to the above list – my love for photography, a lifelong hobby. I love cameras, lenses, every technical spec, and taking photos. Yet, in the end, I could not add it to the list as meaningful as it is to me. Yet the images I create, some hanging on our walls, others in several photo books, and the many memories they allow us to relive are priceless. My hope is these memories will remain alive in future generations.

One final thing I want to mention is about leaving a legacy. There is little more rewarding than knowing you will leave a mark on this earth after you are gone. My book, hundreds of articles published, numerous photographs, and the many people I have impacted as a coach and mentor will undoubtedly be part of my legacy. Those are things I gladly paid the price for as they are certainly worth having.

Along these lines, I wonder if part of our legacy will be on social media. I know at least two people who have passed on, yet their Facebook pages remain intact. People that loved them have taken them over and are keeping their memory alive. Who knows what other innovations the future will bring that may be worth having?

Final thoughts

In the end, the things worth having most in life involve other people. Without them, life would be empty. With them, life is full. Without them, little value exists in life. With them, life is worth having (living.)

How do you see this subject? Do you have a similar perspective, or do you take a different view? I would love to hear your thoughts!

I leave you with the words of one of the most successful and famous architects in history:

“You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.” Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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