Ever so often I rethink my entire life. Do you ever do that? Oh good. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Sometimes I think things like, “What am I doing with my life? Who really cares about this personal finance stuff? I should be out in the jungles somewhere making a real difference.” Our generation has been told by so many around us that we need to make an impact, help the world be a better place, and sometimes it just feels like too much. I mean really, are we all going to be able to change the world? Good grief, no wonder I never feel like I can do enough.
So I often ask, do I really want my legacy to be promoting wealth just so we can have all the stuff we ever wanted?
Nope. That isn’t what I’m hoping for and I think most of you would agree. There has to be more to managing money well than just trying to get rich.
World Changing Generosity
All of this is one of the reasons why a new book caught my eye. World Changing Generosity just came out and is authored by husband and wife team, Jim and Nancy Cotterill. I had the chance to speak with them both recently and was really encouraged by their message and wanted to share it with you here.
They shared with me that they worked together in business for years in the newspaper industry and then started a magazine publishing company and had that for about 11 years. After selling, they were trying to figure out what to do next. Jim said, “Around that time we were on vacation and I was in a pretty bad accident. I woke up, paralyzed, about a week later. Although I have made close to a full recovery and am able to walk again it caused me to reevaluate my life. I realized that it was really my turn to serve now and started looking for opportunities to do that.”
Jim ended up being part of a group that started a foundation in Indianapolis which has grown to about 100 million in assets. Jim is having a great time working with people, encouraging then and helping them save tax dollars which converts to giving.
Nancy is a journalist, editor and publisher and her great love is writing. Nancy says, “When all this happened to Jim it sent us into a downward spiral that really effected our lives for a number of years. Everything changes in your life when you have an catastrophic health event, it happens everyday but you don’t really understand until its happened to you. Jim did the research and I did the writing and this is how the book came about.”
I asked them to explain some of the science that shows generosity is good for us. Jim told me about work done by the initiative called The Science of Generosity at Notre Dame. The study reveals that the areas of the brain that lights up when experiencing joy also lights up when you experience being generous. As young people most of us are trying to figure out what will make us happy and this initiative has cleared it up for us. One way to have joy is to show generosity to others.
This is easy to say and harder to do when you are a teen and you don’t have much, if any, money. Nancy made an excellent point though, “You don’t have to build an orphanage you just have to lend a hand. But when you hear about people who do build orphanages it feels impossible. It puts you off a little bit. If that’s what you got to do then I can’t make a dent. Maybe it’s just ‘I gave somebody a ride today’ or ‘I went across the street and read a chapter to an elderly person who can’t read anymore’. The truth is is that if everyone was generous even a little bit the world would be a much more loving place.”
Jim followed up with something that resonated with me deeply, “Happiness can’t be found in the accumulation of money and possessions, but research findings support that giving of your time, talent and money definitely results in a state of happiness and contentment that can’t be found elsewhere. So, rather than running up burdensome debt and making yourself miserable in an effort to “buy” happiness, experience it from the beginning of adulthood by giving of yourself and your resources.”
My Takeaway About Living Generously
Living generously is my goal. I do want to have a secure financial future. I don’t want to have to choose between buying medicine and food at the grocery store when I’m retired. I’d like to be able to take my kids to Disney World and all of that stuff. But I also want to make a difference in this world by being able to help others in need. Like Jim and Nancy said, the fact that it will make me happier in life is just a huge added bonus!