Step 12: Giving
When most people think about wealth, they think about money. But what I mean by wealth is something that doesn't change according to the economy.
True wealth is generosity and openness of spirit; it's something that will never diminish. That, my friends, is not true when it comes to money. While your financial wealth may go up and down over the course of your lifetime, the beauty of true wealth is that it doesn't fluctuate; it remains stable regardless of what goes on in the world of money. So this month I want to talk to you about the most important step that can lead to a life of true wealth: giving.
Many of us go through life thinking we will never have enough; it's at the core of so many of the questions I answer in this column. Our logical tendency is to hold on tightly to the little we think we have by clasping our hands in a suffocating grip around our money. The result of our tightfisted ways is that our lives aren't open to receive what's meant to come to us.
Show Your Gratitude
December is the perfect time to talk about this because the holiday season tends to be when we give to those we love. But why do we give only on special occasions or when it's expected of us? Giving needs to come from an inspired place within us, to be dictated not by the calendar but rather by our desire to give back in order to say thank you. Giving isn't just about buying gifts to make others feel good; it's about making ourselves feel good. I repeat: Giving is not just about buying gifts to make others feel good; it's about making ourselves feel good. Gratitude is something that needs to be shown every single month.
To Whom..and How Much?
One way I know to keep our hearts and hands open is to give money away on a regular basis. How much does one give? A respectable amount. For someone who is in severe credit card debt, that amount may be $5 a month; for others it may be a lot more. Only you will know the answer to that question. Whom do you give to on a monthly basis? Choose a nonprofit or a place of worship—or you could give to your parents if they need it. You give to make an offering; when you make an offering you feel generous, and when you feel generous you feel powerful, be the first check you write, or dollar you spend, at the beginning of each month; that way you start each month from a place of generosity and openness, which is the stance of a truly wealthy person.
May you have the happiest of holidays and the opportunity to experience true wealth sooner rather than later.
From the December 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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