Sometimes you don’t know the value of what’s in front of you….

Imagine that pretty, old, but not unremarkable object sat in the corner. I don’t mean your gran….I mean the 18th century ming vase worth £53 million that you didn’t know you had.

A brother and sister clearing out their late parents semi-detached house in suburban London, had stumbled upon the vase and had it valued. Yesterday at auction it raised a staggering £53 million – they had to be escorted outside in shock. Not surprising really.

We are pretty good at knowing the value of things by and large. Things in this context are material things. A TV at £299 that used to be £600, a pint at £3, a loaf of bread at £1.20. We daily monitor the price of things but even then we cannot catch up. I recently saw a DVD player for £19…how did that happen? Value is a perception – Edward De Bono writes in his blog about when considering value, perception can be as important as reality. We now know that 33 per cent of people are called ‘placebo reactors’….why? Because this means that if they feel something is doing them good, it will indeed do them good. In the PsyBlog post Experiences Beat Possessions: Why Materialism Causes Unhappiness, the value of the experience is tested over the value of the material purchase. Van Boven & Gilovich predicted that people spend more time overall contemplating their experiential rather than material purchases. To test this out they asked participants to think about which they thought about more often. The results clearly showed it was the experiential purchases by a mile – 83%. We like the experience. Fact.

Today, people are searching for real personal value, emotional connection, meaning, impact and a difference to their lives beyond the material. Joshua Becker wrote in Becoming Minimalist about values rather than possessions – 15 Things Children Can (and Should) Value More than Possessions. He is right. And that pursuit, even nostalgia for a lost childhood of those values is the same for adults. It’s a place many long to go to. So, value can come from perception, from longing, it can be added, it comes from feeling good, from the experience. Recognise anything here?

We may not realise the value of what’s under our very noses sometimes …and a £53 million ming vase may be a reasonable exception. But the value we can give as fundraisers is worth so much more.

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