Famous advice columnist Ann Landers once published an interesting letter in her column. It was from a young lady who was writing about her aunt and uncle. She wrote:
“My uncle was the tightest man I’ve ever known. All his life, every time he got paid he took $20 out of his pay cheque and put it under his mattress. Then he got sick and was about to die. As he was dying, he said to his wife: “I want you to promise me one thing. Promise me that when I’m dead you’ll take my money from under the mattress and put it in my casket so that I can take it all with me.”
The young lady’s letter went on with the story. “When he died, his wife kept her promise. She took all the money from under the mattress and went to the bank and deposited it. Then she wrote out a cheque and put it in her husband’s casket.”
The old saying remains true. You can’t take it with you!
Too many people fail to grasp the power of giving back. They live by the adage “pay yourself first.” But it’s my conviction that real success and meaning come from living a generous life, where the focus is on helping and blessing others.
Living generously helps you stay grounded on your success journey and can add significant purpose to your life. And you don’t have to be making a fortune to get started! For example, you might sponsor a child in a poverty-stricken nation for as little as $30-40 a month. For the price of a cup of coffee every day, you can give a child a hope and a future they wouldn’t have otherwise.
If you own your own business, make it a part of your business and personal policy to give back. And not just to charitable organizations… Be generous with people! Your generosity may help change a life. At the very least it will be a high point in their day or week. You may never know the full impact your generosity can have in someone’s life, but you don’t need to. You can simply enjoy living generously and share in the sheer pleasure of giving.
Now I get that not all millionaires and successful people embrace this worldview. As a matter of fact, the world has more than its share of miserable rich people. To be happy with your wealth and success, however, you need to be generous. The millionaires who are truly content are the ones that embrace the value of giving. Consider the following story.
The poor billionaire
The very first person to reach the status of billionaire was a man who knew how to set goals and follow through. At the age of 23, he had become a millionaire, and by the age of 50 a billionaire. Every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his own personal wealth and power.
But three years later, at the age of 53, he became terribly ill. His entire body was racked with pain and he lost all his hair. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate noted that during this time he could barely sleep, wouldn’t smile, and nothing in life meant anything to him. His doctors gave him less than a year to live.
As he neared death, he woke up one morning with the vague remembrance of a dream. He could barely recall the dream but knew it had something to do with not being able to take any of his riches and successes with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he wasn’t in control of his own life.
He was left with a choice. He called his attorneys, accountants and business managers to a meeting, and announced that he wanted to channel his extensive assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. On that day, John D. Rockefeller established his now famous foundation. This new direction led to the discovery of penicillin, and cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis, and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting from his decision is enormous.
But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to live generously, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he recovered from his illness. It looked as if he would die at the age of 53, but he lived to be 98! Rockefeller learned the power of generosity.
What about you? Are you in the habit of being generous? Make a commitment to be on the lookout for someone who might need a helping hand. It doesn’t have to be much, but the reward for both of you will make it totally worth it.