Why Self-Worth Is Infinitely More Valuable that Net-Worth


There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” – Henry David Thoreau

Net-worth: Your assets minus your debts.

Self-worth: The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.

As humans, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. Unfortunately, because we can only compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing their clothes, cars, homes, and paychecks.

Simply put, we tied self-worth to net-worth. As a painful result, we began to make judgements about our own life value by the possessions that we own. But, in reality, our life is far more valuable than the things that we own.

The wages that we earn provide for our lives, but they do not define our lives. (tweet that)

Fortunately, when we change our thinking on this matter, we are freed to pursue a life worthy of esteem and respect that is not tied to our possessions. Consider these 8 steps to improve your self-worth regardless of your net-worth.

1. Live a life of integrity and character. There is no greater feeling than laying your head on your pillow at night having no regrets in your dealings with others. Consider the immeasurable value that comes from looking back over your entire life and seeing the same thing.

2. Cultivate worthy endeavors that are available in infinite supply. There is no limit to the amount of love you can show, the amount of hope you can spread, or the number of encouraging words you can speak. Cultivate these things in liberal supply. They will cost you nothing, but will begin to mean everything.

3. Delight in your uniqueness. The fact that you are different from everybody else makes you valuable. Be comfortable with yourself and proud of yourself. Don’t suppress it or hide it. Instead, do the opposite: Champion your uniqueness.

4. Give away your most valuable resource. The most precious resource we own is our time. Therefore, the most precious thing that we can ever give to another person is our time. Make a habit of giving it away to others.

5. Live courageously. Find the mental strength to accept new challenges without regards to the fear that may lie beneath. Live with great expectations about what your life can become and accomplish.

6. Develop self-confidence. A confident person feels better about themselves, stands up taller, and smiles more. A confident person does not follow the crowd or try to become someone else. A confident person focuses on their achievements and anticipates their next opportunity in life with excitement.

7. Embrace your weaknesses. There are no perfect people in this world. We all have struggles and weaknesses. I have found that one of the best ways to identify with others is in our weakness. When we admit that we need help, we are finally ready to interact with others on a truly valuable level.

8. Make the most of every opportunity. Each new day brings with it new opportunities. Don’t waste a single one. Do everything you do with quality and excellence.

Your true self-worth is up to you. Increase it. Don’t allow your life’s pursuit to be caught up in the acquisition of material things – that makes for a nice net-worth, but not necessarily a high self-worth. And self-worth trumps net-worth any day.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Smart words to live by. I have seen humans gauge their worth by the number of pigs they own, how many wives they can afford, the number of homes or cars they have, and the amount of money they have in invested in stocks and bonds. Happiness and wisdom did not necessarily correspond.

  2. says

    This is lovely. It makes me think of an idea I came across through my Nia practice of our “Cosmic Salary.” Thinking about our cosmic salary helps us redefine the iea of income by looking at all the other things we “earn” when we follow our passions.

  3. Sandy says

    Great post! Inspiring words full of wisdom. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and really enjoy it. Gives me the encouragement I need to keep on in my journey towards minimalism/simplicity. Thank you!

  4. says

    Interestingly, acquiring a lot of material things doesn’t lead to a high net worth either, any more than it leads to high self-worth. Most items depreciate in value — and many of them also cost a lot to maintain, clean, store, move, insure, etc. Most millionaires are the ones who saved their money and invested it, rather than buying a lot of expensive items.

    • w.k.Darling says

      Sorry Rachel, hope you have ‘seen the light’ since your March 27, 2010. comment.! You used the word ‘millionaires’ in a monetary ‘net worth’ sense, and ‘items’ depreciating in value. Cheap monetary-minded man can manipulate these values to-suit or impress lie(like)- minded mortals, but those who really treasure those invaluable human qualities live the true high-life to immortality! In the words of a millionaire songwriter ” money can’t buy me LOVE “, LOVE is given freely, any cost is quickly discounted when reciprocated, appreciated, acknowledged, shared…whatever, but it would be obscene to put a monetary value on it.

      Personally, I favour a more ‘caring and responsible’ society based on measures of WELLBEING allowing individuals the freedom to follow/develop their passions, maximise their abilities (or special gifts) without societal constraints, especially when the very ‘common’ denominator(money) corrupts their pursuit and journey to fulfilment(‘enlightenment’ for some). AMEN (seems a fitting conclusion, eh?)

      • di says

        There will always be different degrees of well-being, caring, responsibility, passions, abilities, freedom, constraints, corruption and enlightenment.

        We’re human…

  5. Mark Welch says

    The minimalist philosophy is quite congruent with Christianity. Read any of the four Gospels and you’ll see it.

  6. says

    Beautiful words and a truth that will set men free. Ego turns life into a competition…one that can never be won and whatever spoils one does accumulate can be taken by reversal of fortune or death in one heartbeat with no notice. The memories provided by a life well lived can never be erased.

  7. Kay says

    Just love your blog. I’ve been reading it after a friend shared it on fb. Always insightful, challenging and, the best part….helping me re-think how I live my life and then actually know how to make changes. Thank you!

  8. says

    I really enjoyed your article. My husband and I started de-cluttering our lives last year in preparation for long term world travel. After every item we sold or gave away, it felt like a physical weight had been lifted. Resizing from a 2500 square foot house to just two large hiking backpacks feels so liberating. We also learned that even by down sizing that much we still have too much crap! We are now enjoying a life of travel free of excessive possessions and we couldn’t be happier.


    Am glad to see younger people going in the direction of grasping life for what it has to offer and not being obsessed with possessions.

  10. di says

    Everything has limitations.

    We all have regrets that are difficult to remedy. Love and good intentions are not always accepted.

  11. Kathryn Kasprzak says

    Thoughtful content, well written. Thank you for an essay that sets the tone for the day, the week, the year.

  12. says

    Great article Joshua,

    I especially like number 4. It is funny because I assume that is why that popular quote, “Time is Money” came about.

    Enjoyed reading it, really nice tips for self improvement!

    Best regards,

    • ed morgan says

      AMEN!!! to the eight points of why self worth is infinitely more valuable than net worth Especially when we apply biblical text to the eight points…..such as,
      1. Integrity.. Proverbs 20:7 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
      2. Worth Endeavors…Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
      3. Uniqueness… Romans 12:1-21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
      4. Give Away Your Most Valuable Resource…Proverbs 11:24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
      5. Live Courageously….Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
      6. Develop Self-confidence…Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest.
      7. Embrace your weaknesses…2 Cor. 12:9-10 My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak then am I strong.
      8. Make the most of every opportunity…Ephesians 5:16 These are evil times, so make every minute count.

  13. Atilio says

    “Embrace your weaknesses” thank you for this concept. I never came accross it before you posted it. It changed my life.

  14. Miss A says

    I am ‘championing my uniqueness’ right now and delighting in the next stages of my life. Since finding your blog early this year (and reading Marie Kondo’s book), I have released about 75% of my ‘hoarding’ (for that is the best way to describe the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ I had accumulated over 20+ years …. including my father & grandmothers things). I got rid of over 1,000 books alone! Most items were sold, and the money given to family members – they in turn were able to fix cars (three in fact!), buy friends lunch (which gave one family member a lovely experience to remember as they can’t usually afford frivolous things like that), and also paid for other experiences. I am still working on the 25% … and am getting there finally! I’m also just about to start my own business – doing something I truly love. I’m finally going to finish writing my book as I now have a clear headspace, physical space and more time. Thank you for all your brilliant posts, and constant Facebook feed – this is one important thing that helps keep me motivated on a daily basis.

    • Bonni says

      Well said. I agree. I have begun giving people ‘memories’ for Christmas. Last Christmas I gave my son and his little family a ‘promissory note’ of sorts, namely a family pass to the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. They redeemed the voucher a few weeks ago and spent a wonderful afternoon learning and exploring. I dare you to ask my four year old grand daughter anything about jellyfish and sea turtles. They were her favourite. There is nothing that retains information like the mind of a child.

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