What’s The Greatest Gift You Could Give to The World?

by J. Money - Published September 9, 2016

grand canyon thinking

Every few weeks my siblings like to text over some sort of thought-provoking messages.

Usually they’re quotes like “I say yes to the world because saying no is much scarier,” or “if you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one” (but what if you like chasing pigs?? :)), but the last one was actually a question. And one which I almost ignored ‘cuz it was a lot harder than it looks!

Here’s what was asked:

“What’s the greatest gift you could give to the world?”

Seems easy at first, but the more I thought about it the more I wasn’t sure. My family started rattling off answers fairly quickly and they were all fine – “to love unconditionally” and “to help others” – but I wanted to actually spend some time really thinking about it and seeing if anything clicked.

And, ironically enough, it was just that in the end that I came up with: Attention.

Paying attention is the best thing we can give to the world!

Attention to our friends, our family, strangers, attention to our actions and how it affects everyone, attention to how we interact with our land, our stuff, our health/goals/dreams, everything. How much better our surroundings would be if we spent more time slowing down and looking up! Even just giving 30 – dedicated – seconds to someone, or something, can make all the difference in the world! And it’s something we all have the capacity to do, rich or poor.

So that’s what I texted them back: attention. And I could tell it caught them off guard because who spends two hours trying to answer a text?? Haha… But I did feel awfully clever afterwards :) Also “deep,” as my brother declared.

Then, of course, I started wondering what the greatest thing we could do for our wallets was? Was it saving? Investing better? Budgeting?

The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to that same answer of “attention.” After all, how could you do anything with money if you don’t first stop and really think about it? Attention seems to be the spark that all good things come out of. You may not always find what you’re hoping for, or accidentally focus on the wrong things (getting rich fast, chasing other peoples’ dreams), but in the end all goals get accomplished because you took that very first start: you cared enough to stop and think.

The action you take will be the catapult of it all, but you need the attention first before anything comes. So that’s my answer for your wallet as well :)

What about you? What do you think the best gift you could give the world is? What about the best gift to your wallet? Are your actions matching your beliefs?

James Frick once stated that if you want to see someone’s priorities, take a look at where they’re spending their money and you’ll find them. I agree, and it works even better with time. If you want to see someone’s priorities, take a look at where they’re spending all their time! That speaks volumes right there… And I have some work to do on this, myself.

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions September 9, 2016 at 6:36 am

Deep one for a Friday morning! And as an administrator getting ready to go to school to meet 250 kindergarten kids off the bus for the first time this morning – I’ll put in the plug to pay attention to your kids! I see way too many parents buried in their phones…enough said. I’d add the best gift I could give the world is to always be a little more kind. And to be a easier on myself when things don’t go right (financially or not) too!

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2 J. Money September 9, 2016 at 5:17 pm

YES TO PHONES!!! I’ve seen that a lot too now that I take my eldest to pre-school… :(

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3 Free to Pursue September 9, 2016 at 6:47 am

“…you cared enough to stop and think.” I love this thought as a driver of attention. I also think the word “cared” carries heavy meaning itself. “Care” is linked to desire, drive, passion.

Along with attention, we need to be passionate about how we live our life…we have to care about what we do because it fills us up.

An empty vessel doesn’t have the resources to pay attention to others because it hasn’t paid attention to its own intrinsic needs.

If we don’t listen to what we need first, deep down how can we possibly listen to the needs, thoughts and desires of others?

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4 J. Money September 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm

True! *Caring* is another great answer :)

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5 The Green Swan September 9, 2016 at 6:52 am

This is a deep one! I like attention, you came up with a good one there. How about devotion? Being devoted to the world and your money means you care about it and want to do your best for it.

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6 J. Money September 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm

That works too :) So long as you *pay attention* to what you want to devote yourself too! (ZING!)

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7 Jon @ Be Net Worthy September 9, 2016 at 7:09 am

Some good answers so far! To not be duplicative, I would say “self-reliance.” Taking my lead from the Hippocratic oath that doctors follow of “first, do no harm.” Imagine if everyone was self-reliant and no-one was a burden or drag on society. That would be cool.

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8 J. Money September 9, 2016 at 5:20 pm

And also a miracle!

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9 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers September 9, 2016 at 7:11 am

I’m not sure what I would answer that question with but I like the attention answer. In my years of budgeting and watching our financial situations like a hawk I can agree that the more attention that you give to your actions the better off your finances are. But I’ve also found that things like diligence and patience go a long way too. When you set a goal you do it under the circumstances that you face right then, but as you see the situations begin to improve because of the plans that you laid out it can be hard to stick with it and continue to execute the practices that got you to the good place you are. Some times some good old stick-to-it-ness can go a long ways.

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10 J. Money September 9, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Totally… Patience is a virtue as they say….

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11 SL September 9, 2016 at 7:16 am

“James Frick once stated that if you want to see someone’s priorities, take a look at where they’re spending their money and you’ll find them. I agree, and it works even better with time. If you want to see someone’s priorities, take a look at where they’re spending all their time! That speaks volumes right there… ”

To be a bit depressing here… Attention is a big one — pay attention to your friends and colleagues, and if they are no longer doing the things they were doing, ask. Not doing the things you think of as a priority anymore is a marker for depression. Spend the time, and Pay Attention.

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12 Miss Mazuma September 9, 2016 at 7:40 am

Attention is a great answer! I love that it can be used for finance as well – people definitely need to pay more attention to their money!!

Im going to throw KINDNESS into the ring. There is a reason those pay it forward commercials from Liberty Mutual make people cry..or is it just me?! :) I love seeing people helping people. If we all took more time to look at the world around us (instead of down at our phones ;) ) the opportunity to reach out and help others is all around us.

Have a great weekend!!

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13 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:40 pm

That is true… if you pay someone negative attention then it’s probably not going to be that great, haha… so maybe we’ll change it to “kindness attention” :)

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14 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies September 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

Being purposeful is essential, isn’t it? A great deal of paying attention carefully is about listening and observing. As a society, we’re bad at that with money…and we’re really, really bad at that with other people. It’s so easy to get sucked into the noise of our own lives and our own situations that we don’t always remember to look around. For me, this goes along with my feelings on giving and why that’s a monthly line item in our budget. I have heard from many people that they are hoping to make effective money decisions now (and they are doing far better than I in many respects) and will then pursue charitable giving later whether it is with money or their time. But if we’re really paying attention, it’s hard to wait. At least it is for me. Thanks for the mental exercise on Friday, J!

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15 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for contributing your wise words, as always :) I admire people like you because I, too, want to give back more than I do. At least financially. And while it’s great trying to become wealthy and retire early and yada yada yada, I often feel bad I’m not using my skills to help those MUCH less fortunate than we are. They can’t even afford to eat and a few dollars would go way farther than in our own lives!

so thank YOU for the reminder. I need it pretty much every day :)

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16 Matt @ Optimize Your Life September 9, 2016 at 8:20 am

I like this answer. I have been working on being more present and purposeful in all areas of my life, and I feel like that falls under the umbrella of attention. Excellent answer and interesting thought experiment.

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17 DEC1 September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am

Attention is a great answer for what we can all give to the world as our greatest gift. I use the term zombies in reference to all the people I see at work walking the halls with their nose buried in their phone. They are overly obsessed with being entertained constantly rather than taking a moment to pay attention to others around them and the opportunity to build their network and relationships by saying a simple “good morning”. They aren’t paying attention to the world around them in the present…and they are missing out.
I pray every morning for help in being kind and caring, conscientious and considerate….all elements of attention I suppose…
I guess it matters what you do as a result of paying attention that really counts…
Great post J$

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18 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Agreed :) Those zombies are definitely paying attention – just to the wrong stuff!

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19 Linda @ Brooklyn Bread September 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

You pretty much distilled it right down to the essence of things. Asking ourselves why we truly seek the things we do, the reasons we spend the money we work so hard to earn – that’s it right there. Sounds like you have a cool relationship with your sibs…

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20 Ms. Montana September 9, 2016 at 9:06 am

Attention is the perfect answer! It really is the spark. It’s hard to live with purpose and intentionally if you don’t pay attention. One thing I love about living in Montana is that people see each other and acknowledge each other. I know the folks who make my coffee. If they are married, have kids, their hobbies. Yesterday I was there writing and I mentioned that I really liked the barista’s necklace, and that it had a great art nouveau style. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me, “Thank you so much for noticing! And thank you for knowing what it is!” Most things thrive with a little bit of attention. Kids, friendships, money, tomatoes. And it doesn’t cost anything.

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21 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:57 pm

So beautiful, isn’t it? :)

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22 ZJ Thorne September 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

I agree with you, in part because it is an incredibly flexible answer. Attention will mean different things at different times. What I want most right now is time with my family in Europe. I miss him so much. I give him attention, by calling and sending thoughtful presents.

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23 Dividends Down Under September 9, 2016 at 9:10 am

I think giving everyone the realisation that they can shape their future would be my gift to people.

The biggest change to our wallets will be working hard at maximising our earnings.

Tristan

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24 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Empowering people! That’s a good one!

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25 Lisa O September 9, 2016 at 9:12 am

This was an interesting post and really requires some thought. I really like your answer “Attention” because I can totally understand where your coming from. I want to throw out there “understanding” too! It is so important to understand that people all love, live, learn, and accomplish goals differently. We have all been given different starts in life so it may take some of us longer to get to our goals. Goals are of all different size and kind so giving some understanding that we are all a work in process just sounds right.

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26 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I like it :)

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27 FinanceSuperhero September 9, 2016 at 9:15 am

I think attention is a pretty darn good answer to a difficult question. Another may be “intentionality.”

As you said, taking a look at home someone spends his money and time can be very revealing. For most of us, such an inspection would reveal that we’re pretty lousy at managing our money and time in a manner which aligns with our values. If we all could get better at asking the question, “What is it time for now?” it would be a pretty stellar gift to the world.

I learned the above quote from a wise mentor several years ago, and when I am feeling stuck or overwhelmed, I ask myself that question and allow it to guide my actions.

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28 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Is it okay if “beer” is the answer more often than not? :)

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29 Mr. PIE September 9, 2016 at 9:17 am

Being honest and aware of impact on self and others. Whether it is in the workplace, or with family and friends.
Anything less, you will be found out eventually and generally no good comes of that situation.

Just ask Mr Trump or Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Putin about this one…..

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30 Brian @ debt discipline September 9, 2016 at 9:19 am

Just had a conversation with some co-workers about the lack of attention people and families parents/kids pay to one another these days. Everyone’s playing with their phones. We witness it at restaurants all the time. Families all looking at their phones instead of each other and talking. We are guilty of it too. We have a no phone rule at dinner time, but with older kids and busy schedules it gets tougher to get the whole family together for dinner these days.

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31 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm

We have that rule too :) It’s easy now with just two of us having them though – I dread when our boys get older! (And know how sad it’ll be with less family dinners during those stages :()

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32 Fiscally Free September 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

I agree that paying attention to your money is very important. To me, that means tracking your spending, so you get a good idea of where your money is going. That’s why I said it was the first step in retirement planning: http://www.fiscallyfree.com/2016/05/retirement-planning-step-1-review.html

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33 BeachMama September 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

“Deep Thoughts by J. Money”
Sorry, I couldn’t resist – it’s an old Jack Handey/Saturday Night Live reference that you’re probably too young to remember!

I totally agree – paying attention to and being completely engaged in the present moment is a wonderful thing!

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34 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Haha – I caught it! My wife intro’d me to old school SNL when we first started dating so one reference or another comes up at least weekly in this household :) You should stop by!

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35 Kath1213 September 9, 2016 at 11:52 am

Service to others!

Yesterday was my Dad’s funeral. As my nephew said in the eulogy, Dad was the kindest man in the world. Dad’s life was spent in service to others.

Everything my Dad did came from a place of loving-kindness and service. Acts done with no expectation of payback or thanks. Dad served his country, his family, his friends & neighbors and his church cause he cared about people and wanted to make their lives, their causes and their souls better.

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36 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:04 pm

I am so SO sorry to hear, Kath! What a beautiful answer and beautiful person your dad seems to be. What a legacy to leave behind :)

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37 Michael Melissinos September 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Do what you like to do and share it with other people.

That’s about as good as it gets.

In today’s society of government control and corruption, taking a pure approach to honesty and giving can bring you more success and happiness.

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38 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

I like that idea :) So long as what you like to do – and share – is adding value in the world than pollution.

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39 Jen @ Saving with Spunk September 9, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Attention is a great answer. My first thought was “listening” but for basically the same reasons you stated. People want to be heard and they know when you’re faking it. I guess you can’t really listen to your wallet so I’m with you on attention there. Great insight!

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40 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Wait, your wallet doesn’t talk? :)

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41 Ty @ Get Rich Quickish September 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Dang, this is hard. Not sure on this, but my initial reaction was to say “personal responsibility.” If we are all held accountable for our actions, then I think the world immediately becomes a better place.

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42 Millennial Moola September 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Thanks to you J Money, I was able to share one of my small gifts to the world on Rockstar Finance, the free student loan spreadsheet.
https://millennialmoola.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/student-loan-analysis-tool.xlsx

I think all of us are called to share our financial knowledge with others and try to help people make good money decisions. That’s what I feel like my purpose is right now

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43 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Was so glad to see you doing that too!

I don’t know if you saw this, but someone left a comment on Rockstar about it:

“Thanks so much for finding this! I have been looking FOREVER for a student loan spreadsheet that includes all of the different income-based repayment plans, so this is an awesome find.”

Well done, man :)

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44 Beth September 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm

I would say I would give more understanding. We believe what we believe and don’t budge from that stance – it just can cause so much turmoil.

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45 TJ September 9, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Totally agree with you. At the end of the day, all most people want is attention, though some certainly like to fly under the radar.

I think your answer to that question was so simple that if often gets overthought, and that’s why it caught them off guard. :D

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46 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I’m still pretty impressed w/ myself about it, haha… I wonder what the purpose of me thinking it – and then sharing it with others – will turn out to be :) Hopefully something good!

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47 Latoya @ Femme Frugality September 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Giving more attention is a very thought provoking answer. Perhaps the world could even be a little better if we paid attention to things that really mattered.

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48 Joseph September 10, 2016 at 12:53 am

Living in the moment is the greatest gift that I can give to the world. It’s that combination of active listening and immediate response that allows me to create value in any situation.
Lots of great answers here in the comments though!

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49 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

LOVE the blog name dude, haha….

PF Gangster – brilliant.

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50 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank September 10, 2016 at 5:57 am

Yes J Money! Attention is also what I can offer to the world. With being high attentive, we could just attain all our goals, which can have an impact on the world.

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51 Chris @ Mindful Explorer September 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Well done on the thought you gave to your answer
Attention ~ true attention and listening to what is happening around us.
Listen to the wild and free outdoors around us ~ don’t talk just pay attention to the way the leaves flutter in the wind.
Listen to when someone we are with is speaking ~ don’t talk just pay attention to the way they express the emotion behind their words.
Listen to our financial well being ~ pay attention to how it affects our lives, make a difference with our money.

Nice simple post J ~ thanks dude

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52 J. Money September 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm

I think you need to frame that poem and give it out as Christmas presents :)

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53 Elvie September 11, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Hmmm…to live my life with the purpose of truly obeying the Lord and desiring to please Him in all my ways. In and of myself I cannot be kind, caring, giving, or anything good when I’m wrapped up in myself. Putting Him first and praying that He use me and fill me with His love and fruit makes me put my eyes on Him and helps me treat others in a God given way

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54 Chris @ Dadding Value September 12, 2016 at 9:43 am

The greatest gift I might be able to give to the world is maximizing my personal potential. By doing this, I am loving and living life to the fullest, and challenging others (especially my kids) to do the same. Best of all, I’m not doing anything extraordinary. I’m doing this simply by living.

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55 Ms. Primal Prosperity September 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

This is very interesting and probably one of the most important things we need to be aware of in our modern society… especially since “Attention Deficit” is now a rampant “disorder” and taking drugs is the most common solution. I’m 42 and this was unheard of when I was a kid. But, I was also outside playing with the neighbor kids, rescuing hurt animals, climbing trees… this means getting dirty, getting exercise and getting sun and fresh air. Now, kids are holed in houses and cars in the summer and school in the winter. They are learning about our ecosystem from books instead of getting out in nature. Adults are sitting far too long in cars and cubicles, and eating convenience foods. We have addictions to facebook, internet surfing and video games. Like you said, we need to understand our connection to the planet and to others. This modern way of life isn’t serving us much, considering happiness has declined steadily since the 1950’s and over 2/3rds of Americans are unhappy and over 50% are taking anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds. I’m not suggesting giving up modern amenities, but like you wrote about, it is so important to pay attention and be present.

Also, you mentioned how people spend their time… I love the saying “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.” We tend to spend so much time on busy activities, without a lot of time spent pondering, wondering, wandering, etc…

GREAT article!

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56 J. Money September 13, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Amen to that! Thanks for jumping in! :)

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