As a fun communication game, my son and I play “would you rather…”. This usually leads to something disgusting that would have to be eaten or something embarrassing. None-the-less it is funny and we learn a bit more about each other each time we play the game. The other day, my son asked a more serious question “would you rather have me here, or take a million dollars?” Quite honestly I was taken back as the answer should have been obvious. It made me ponder the society we live in and the how we place value accordingly. Teaching positive psychology I often talk about how we value different things in our life, and the idea that positive experiences and positive relationships are often a predictor of our own happiness, but I had not stopped to consider how an eleven-year-old boy developed a sense of value; I quickly grabbed the teaching moment…

What is a marble worth?

I asked my son how much a marble was worth. His answer was “that depends on the marble, but anywhere from a dime to few dollars”. We agreed on a middle ground of a dollar a piece for each marble. Then I asked him what if each marble was worth a memory? How would you value it then? He quickly responded with “you can’t value it, it is not worth anything”…and the long pause commenced. His next comment was “I just said memories weren’t worth anything didn’t I?” Then I said, remember last week when we went to the movie and when we came out and it was pouring raining and you jumped in the car and locked me out while hysterically laughing and got drenched, and then when you finally let me in I told you the cheesy bird joke. What value would you put on that memory?” He paused for a few seconds and said “that was worth a million dollars mom, that was so funny”, and he began to laugh again (at my expense I might add).

Would you rather

Beyond providing for basic needs of comfort, if we value tangibles and things we possess in life, they have a finite monetary value, and there is no guarantee these things will bring happiness. But, if we value positive experiences that turn into memories in life, these things have an infinite value that fuels our happiness. Each of us has a choice: would you rather cash-in a million marbles for a million dollars or cash in your million marbles for a million good memories?

Bonus: cheesy bird joke

Why do Seagulls fly over the ocean? Because if they flew close to the bay, they would be called bay-gulls (Bagels)

About the author: Dr. Lynn Soots has been teaching psychology at the higher education level for over ten years. She is proud to integrate Positive Psychology applications in each of her courses to support growth and student goal attainment. She specializes in higher education online course room design, adult learning, and diversity appreciation.


‘We are the Positive Psychology People’

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