The following is a guest post by newcomer Jeremy Johnson, a husband and father of two girls (a 2 1/2 year old and a newborn). He recently created a website dedicated to helping people realize their dreams and ideas, make progress on them, and see them through to completion. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter at @JeremyNJohnson. Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered why some people give thousands or even millions of dollars to charities and other organizations for a good cause? Why do some people spend hours on end selflessly parting with their finances and free time just to help other people? Could it be for the tax breaks alone?
There’s a formula for wealth and happiness that confounds the grumpy and unfulfilled person. It’s not that other people are just lucky and born happy. It is that the ‘lucky’ and ‘born happy’ person has discovered one of life’s most simple, yet lucrative formulas for real wealth and happiness.
You’re probably wondering what the magic formula is by now. What could possibly give you wealth and happiness that overflows your financial and fulfillment coffers? The formula is giving – giving of not only your finances, but of your time and talents, without expectation of reward. Pure and selfless giving well beyond what you could ever expect to receive back is life’s magic formula for real wealth and happiness.
The effect of throwing a stone into any body of water is really fascinating. Even a small stone will hit the water and cause a ‘ripple’, that is it will cause the water around it to cascade outwards creating an area of effect far greater than the size of the stone that initially hit the water. And the bigger the stone used, the greater the ripple effect.
Methods of Giving
Some may have the notion that giving a 10% tithe to a religious institution is important. Or some may believe that giving 10% of your income to a charity is sound practice. These are indeed both great ideas and will provide financial support provided you give your money to institutions that are reputable.
In addition to financial giving, a 10% (or some percentage of your choosing) of your time, abilities, and talents can and should also be given to others. And by giving, I don’t mean with the intent to get paid for it – that doesn’t count! This is simply serving one or more people with the unique gifts and talents you already have.
Financial giving is usually straightforward. You cut a check or hand over a pile of cash to the group or person you want to serve. But giving of your time, abilities, and talents requires the examining of the groups or individuals you wish to serve. It requires examining the unique value you have to offer and then finding the areas in which individuals and groups are challenged.
The Benefits of Giving
The giving of 10% of your time, talents, and abilities to help others where they are most struggling is not normal behavior. Life tends to pull us towards what we can do for our families and ourselves. By giving yourself to a cause greater than who you are, you strengthen others selflessly and increase your ability – and the needs of others at the same time.
If you think that’s crazy, think about reciprocity and karma. Think about affecting a large whole through your gifts and talents. Think about throwing a stone into a pond and from that small stone, a ripple effect moving outward, affecting a larger whole. Think about the wealthiest and most fulfilled people and the large number of people their charities benefit in the world, both financially, and through time and service.
The strengthening of a whole happens when others are made better through your unique gifts. Perhaps your unique gifts create something that saves the time of others, or brings people together in a cohesive group, which adds to the success as a whole. Perhaps your giving prevents someone from going downhill in their life and then that person begins to add value and the ripple affect grows and grows. Your ripple source will continue to bounce and affect others well beyond your initial offering.
Your simple acts of giving enhance those you affect. And by doing so, you are in turn enhanced and exposed – in a good way – as someone of great value. And if you don’t believe there is anything in it for you, think about the course of each life you enhance through your unique talents and gifts – and the people then enhanced by them. It’s often about your gift to the world and the faith that reciprocity will find its way back to you while at the same time not expecting it.
From personal experience, I know that giving of me reaps rewards far greater than had I sat on my can and done nothing or selfishly promoted myself. The rewards of selfless giving include financial and personal growth rewards! I’ve increased in human understanding and intelligence through serving others and learning what helps them. I am a more capable employee at my full time job because of the lessons in life I am learning through giving to others. This allows me to work in a position that pays a higher salary than I would otherwise get had I not learned to focus, solve problems, and learn to serve others.
My Own Personal Experience and Observations
Do you think people like Oprah Winfrey or Anthony Robbins are in the position they are because they got lucky? They touch many lives with their unique gifts and talents. And they spend time giving of themselves on a constant basis. Anthony Robbins and his charities feed countless people during Thanksgiving. Oprah developed a school program for young people.
I spent two years in Ireland in voluntary service (from age 19 – 21), which I paid for. I was not paid directly for my service. Indirectly, I am reaping the benefits of learning to work hard and serve others – even if it is many years after the fact. Who knows what ripples I created when I was a young man there and I do not need any financial reward to know I did wonderful things.
I recently discovered the Yakezie Oda – a like minded group of individuals with websites related to personal finance. I began observing their interaction with each other. From that observation, I noticed a need for a better way to manage the club and the Alexa rankings. I knew I had the technical skill to pull it off and I am so impressed with what I’ve seen from the members of it, that it was a simple matter for me to volunteer my time and energy to create a new, automated page to store their club and Alexa rankings that will ultimately save them time and energy.
What’s in it for me? Nothing – I do it freely. However, I do believe I have genuinely made some real friends in a short amount of time, and you cannot put a price on that at all. I promise any of you reading that if you solve the challenge that someone or a group is having with your unique talent, you will feel a sense of fulfillment, and increase your networking and friendship with those you help. But do it for fulfillment, for bettering and helping others, which in turn will strengthen the whole and not just yourself.
Find your own unique talents, gifts, abilities, and just get to know people. You will find so many ways to give to others, not just financially. Just listen and watch people. You will quickly discover the challenges they are facing. Use your unique talents and gifts to fill in the gaps for the challenges and difficulties of others. If you are really interested in wealth, this is the greatest way to generate it – a high valued solution to a number of people’s problems. Not only is it fulfilling, but it increases your potential as a human being and solves real life problems. You just might find your life’s work while serving someone and have it be a means to provide for you financially for the rest of your life.
Readers, what are your unique talents and gifts? Who are the people that would most benefit from your service? Who are some people in your life that have shared their unique talents with you and made a difference in your life?
Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”
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