"Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book... The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better... Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes." -- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
You may not have heard of Annie Dillard's work, but one of the wealthiest women in the world, MacKenzie Bezos, certainly has.
In fact, she quoted the above Writing Life passage when discussing her signing of the Giving Pledge, a commitment started in 2010 by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. The pledge asks its signees to give more than half of their fortunes to philanthropic causes or charity.
Currently, MacKenzie is the executive director of the anti-bullying group, the Bystander Revolution, and in the past, she has supported funding for cancer and Alzheimer's disease research. In a statement, Bezos shared, "My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty."
Billionaire status or not, however, all of us can work to give back to society.
In fact, generosity is in your best interests. It reduces stress, enhances your sense of purpose, and supports your physical health, helping you fight depression. At the same time, being generous can build your confidence and distract from any critical inner voice you may have.
When you give back through volunteering, for example, you strengthen communities and the spaces you live, work, and enjoy. Consider tutoring children at local schools, or cleaning up a city park. As these areas become safer and enhanced, you will even learn leadership skills and expand your social network. Plus, giving back to society just really feels good.
Since divorcing from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie has received more than $35 billion--and her decision to sign the Giving Pledge puts her in a group of other wealthy benefactors, including WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra.
The impact you have on communities--or simply, on those around you, does not require billions of dollars for it to be powerful. Remember that any contribution you make to the world matters.