Mark Cuban makes a lot of money – not “more money than anyone” levels of money, but certainly “more money than almost everyone” levels.
And, he gives away lots of money. You may have heard about him offering $1 million to charity of Donald Trump would shave his head, but that is really the least of it.
During his brash years as owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Cuban matched each of the numerous fines he received from the NBA with a gift to charity. He founded the Fallen Patriot Fund, and it has given over $4 million in assistance to help families of U.S. military personnel who were killed or seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cuban recently gave over $1 million to help the relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy.
The list of wealthy individuals who give away a lot of money doesn’t start or end with Mark Cuban. Bill Gates makes and gives away lots of money, too. So does Warren Buffet. So does my friend, Nido Qubein. In fact, most of the people we consider “wealthy” donate a significant amount of money to charitable causes. Mitt Romney may have been maligned for how he made his money, but you can’t argue with the fact that he and his wife donated over 16 percent of their adjusted net income – about $7 million – to charitable causes in 2010 and 2011.
The cynic will say that each of these people is simply taking advantage of the tax breaks. Some will say that it is easy to give away large sums when you have more than you can ever hope to spend. A few others will write off the gifts as gratitude for their good fortune.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, I want to remind us all of another connection. The people who have moved from success to significance in the personal lives don’t give because they are successful. They are successful because they give. They are not merely thankful for their success. They are thankful for the opportunity to strive.
Research cited by Dr. Robert Emmons in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, suggests that people who operate from a heightened place of gratitude and thankfulness typically experience better overall health, fewer physical symptoms, higher income, more energy, larger social networks and stronger marriages.
This is the time of year that people speak of gratitude – the feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. But, I’m thinking that the people who have earned a place of significance in our lives experience that feeling of gratitude each and every day. It keeps them humble and it allows them to retain perspective on their accomplishments.
My Thanksgiving wish for you and me is that we all learn and practice an attitude of gratitude each day. We and the world will be better off because of it.