When I was 10 years old, I remember walking into my father’s study on a Saturday afternoon. My father was the co-founder and president of the Sheraton Hotel chain, and at this moment, he was at his desk, surrounded by papers and ledgers and books.
“Daddy,” I asked, “How come you’re working? It’s the weekend!”
“I’m reading through charitable requests,” he answered, looking up from a letter he was reading. “I’d rather be doing this than anything else.” What followed were the words that influenced me for the rest of my life: “The greatest pleasure my money has ever given me is in giving it away.”
The act of giving created meaning in his life. He got to experience the joy of knowing that in his own small way, he was making the world a better place. He was grateful that he could do this. It was then I began to truly understand how generosity and gratitude lead people to greater happiness.
The lesson I witnessed in my father rings true across time, culture, and fame. Consider Napoleon Bonaparte and Mother Teresa: how did their graciousness, or lack thereof, affect their