Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Seeking Significance

My Great Aunt Margaret McCarthy was a fount of what we now know to be timeless wisdom. So I'm not surprised to learn that when her son, Tim, broke the news to her that he was about to become a very wealthy man, Aunt Margaret's response was, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry." She was concerned about the burden that wealth would become to Tim, having "seen better people than [Tim] changed by money."

Tim has written a very thoughtful and thought-provoking book titled Empty Abundance in which he details his winding path to wealth and the empty rewards and lack of satisfaction that came with that wealth. Most importantly, his writing describes the solution he discovered to the problem of illusive happiness - the happiness our culture conditions us to expect as a reward for wealth. The solution is what Tim calls 'mindful giving' and while his application of that solution is unique to Tim, the principles and guidelines he shares are a great foundation to anyone seeking to find meaning in their lives.

While I don't speak from a position of wealth, I do speak from a position of a decent understanding of the human spirit. And I can say without hesitation that at any time in my life when I was lonely, discouraged, grieving, helpless, or unhappy, my reliable cure was to give whatever time or talents I could offer. There is tremendous power in giving but we sometimes forget that we have much to give. For all of those low times in life, the feeling of significance craves attention. And there is nothing like giving to bolster that feeling. From the richest to the poorest, everyone seeks significance. How great that the answer lies in helping others.

I was taught from a very early age that wealth doesn't always mean money. From the inevitable question of a child - "Mommy, are we rich?" - to the answer I grew up with - "We are rich in the very best of ways" - there is always room to give. And if there is no more room, then receive, and give when you are back on your feet.

Tim's personal solution involved seeding and now continuing to support and grow his The Business of Good Foundation which serves those who serve the poor. His great posts on the Foundation's blog give a sample of his writing, humor, mission, and what makes him tick, including excerpts from his book. I encourage anyone who is curious about how to find meaning through mindful giving to take a look at his blog and consider ordering his book. 

I wish Tim and everyone an abundance of happiness and good reading.