We hear about billionaires every day. Their lives appear to be fascinating, sometimes a lot more interesting than our own. It seems that we are obsessed with these outliers--especially when it comes to money. But aside from knowing how to make a lot of it, self-made billionaires have another secret.

A recent study shows that self-made billionaires are more generous than those who simply inherit their wealth. These billionaires give away more than others, and they are four times more likely to sign the giving pledge to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

These billionaires are onto something big with their generous giving, and we can all learn from it, regardless of the size of our own bank accounts. Besides helping others, becoming a generous person can help you connect more deeply with others and live a more meaningful life

No matter how much material wealth you have to share with others, you can still be generous with your time and effort and relationships. Being generous will help you:

Leave a legacy

These billionaires clearly want their lives to matter and they want to make their mark on the world in a positive way. They are intent on leaving something behind that will outlive them and last for generations. They know that people will always remember what you did for them, rather than what you accomplished for your own gain.

Show the way 

Instead of keeping their wealth all to themselves, these people feel compelled to make the world a better place. They know that serving others is a noble pursuit and well worth whatever it costs to make a difference. In doing so, they serve as an example to all of us--you can serve others and make an impact, whoever and wherever you are in the world.

Remain humble

They may have amazing business acumen, but these people also feel a responsibility to pay it forward to others. They know that no person is truly self-made, and they remind themselves that other people helped them along the way. A consistent emphasis on helping others can help take your focus away from yourself and onto the needs of others.

Feel fulfilled

These philanthropists understand there is a big difference between being a taker and becoming a giver. While being a taker may bring temporary satisfaction and happiness, becoming a giver will lead to a deeper sense of purpose and a life that makes a real impact on the world. They also understand this paradox: The more you give of yourself, the freer you will feel.

You may not be in a position to give away vast sums of money like these fortunate billionaires. Not many people are. But everyone can be a little more giving in their time, their hard work, and their relationships.

You can learn from their example and become a generous person--and live a life that has a sense of purpose. And then you will feel rich indeed.

Published on: Mar 15, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.