The Value of Nothing

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“Everything comes at a price – everything in your life. The question is, you have to ask yourself, what is the price you are willing to pay?”  – Paullina Simons, author

Chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences and an undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics. About a year ago, she was asked to calculate the value of the chemical composition of the human body elements. Are you sitting down? We’re worth a little under $1.

Other scientists value us between $10 million and $45 million if we calculate our unique DNA, kidneys, and all of that morbid stuff, but when all is said and done, what it comes down to is $1 worth of chemicals.

So, what is the value of all we ultimately possess? Our “goods” come and go. You don’t need me to tell you that. A brand-new Lexus or our well-used Chevy Bel-Air will one day be turned into countertops, bottle caps, or an I-beam for a fast-food restaurant. Well, what about our computers, cell phones, Taylor Swift autographed pictures, or sets of imitation silver-plate steak knives? Most likely: recycled, landfilled, broken, lost, or deposited in a bin at the thrift shop.

Bragging Only Means You’re Not Used To Having It

And what is the value of things when others brag about them? When they brag about a new kitchen, an expensive cruise, a designer dress, or an exorbitantly priced French dinner? When we brag about things on Facebook, in church, at work, or to someone going through hard times? What does that say to others about how value is placed on possessions?

Indeed, we have all seen the bumper stickers that read “He who dies with the most things wins” or the iconic “Go Big or Go Home” that recently appeared on a massive SUV in the neighborhood.

Is any of this valuable? I think not. It is showtime. It is folly and frivolous. For – and I wish this upon no one ever – one tragic accident or diagnosis or loss of income or family member can take it all away in a fraction of a second.

While I promise I am not trying to introduce faith into this blog, I could not help but wonder how the word “blessing” relates to the value of everything. I stopped by Psalm 103, which explicitly lists blessings. Included are:

Being forgiven for wrong-doing, our bodies healing after an illness, having peace in hard times, having wealth, such as getting a new job, breaking a harmful addiction, and having a relationship restored.

Of what good are things to a lost reputation? Being ill or not being able to sleep at night with worry? Being addicted to drugs or having a spouse walk out on us? What is the value of things when someone is unable to rid themselves of personal demons?

And whether you believe  or not, the Psalm crystallizes this conversation for me.

Show me the person who has humbled themselves and has been forgiven; show me the person who has recovered from a terrible disease; the person who has made it through a terrible personal storm; the person who finds a great new job; the person who has recovered from alcoholism or even those who have reconciled with a spouse, and I will show you a rich person.

The value of everything is meaningless without blessings. Bragging on social media or to family and friends or co-workers usually says more about the braggart than the things they boast about. I am no longer willing to pay the price for pride and boastfulness in terms of what I might own. I am much more interested in saying, “I have abundance. I have enough.”

I have known those of modest means who have been rich beyond words and wealthy individuals with millions of dollars of “valuable things” who are underprivileged in mind and spirit.

We seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.