Skip to main content

The True Cost of Things - Melody Beattie

From the book More Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie:

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life, which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
--Henry David Thoreau

Consider the young man who was doing great in his high school studies, then suddenly started to fall behind. One day, a teacher pulled the young man aside and asked him what happened. The student told him that he had asked his father for a car, and the father told him that if he earned the money, he could have one. The student, being industrious and hard working, went out, got a job, saved the money, and bought the car. But then the car needed insurance, gas, and maintenance, so the student kept the job to keep up the car. The job took up more and more of his time, until finally he began to fall behind in his studies.

"Why don't you just get rid of the car?" asked the teacher.

"Get rid of the car?" came the reply. "How would I get to my job?"

How often we feel that if we just get that new car, that new boyfriend or girlfriend, that promotion, or the condo in the good neighborhood, we will find happiness and contentment -- only to discover that the thing just brings with it more pain, more costs, and more bother than it's worth. The new sports car runs only half the time, the new partner needs more care than your dog, the promotion eats up your weekends, and the new condo won't allow pets.

Things don't bring true happiness. Instead, they often sap your strength and leave you emptier than you were before. Think about the true cost of a thing before you pursue it in time, lifestyle changes, energy, maintenance and money. Can you really afford the amount of life that the thing will take from you in return for the happiness it brings? Are you willing to pay the price?

God, help me be aware of the true cost of the things in my life.


  1. Isn't she great? I have read a few things by her.

    I definately agree that one must question decisions when the cost may be more than its worth.

    I find that when I get intensely emotional about something, it is not usually a good thing.

    It ends up being something to compensate for something else I need more.

  2. I am a huge fan of Melody Beattie. I keep both "Language of Letting Go"s in my bathroom :)

    I can't believe how many times I have opened one of the books to find exactly what I needed to hear at that time.


Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! I will have it published as soon as I can.