“What to do? Many things happen in life. Still, we must be happy.”

These are the words that pulled me into Kim Dinan‘s The Yellow Envelope, One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World ($20.76, Raincoast Books, Sourcebooks).

The advice was offered by a rickshaw driver in India, whom Dinan met while on her during a multi-year journey, which turned Dinan and her husband Brian into travelers.

Dinan’s journey began when she realized despite having it all – husband, good job, house – she was not living an authentic life. After convincing her husband to quit their jobs and sell everything to travel, the pair met for a final time before leaving with their good friends Michele and Glenn, who give them a yellow envelope, which contained $1,000 and a note telling them the money is theirs to give away at a time they feel is best. The money came with three rules: Don’t think about it; Share Your experiences; and Don’t feel pressured to give it all away.

“At the end of the day, the money itself is just paper,” Michele and Glenn wrote. “What gives the whole experience meaning are the thoughts, emotions and feelings that come with giving the money away in ways that make you smile and make your hearts sing. While doing this bit of creative philanthropy isn’t going to cure cancer or save the rainforest, we hope it can bring a bit of happiness and joy to folks you meet along your adventure…”

This was just one of the many great things about Dinan’s story. It was interesting to read how giving the money away became an issue as the couple debated, and over-thought, what and who they gave the money to. Eventually, it became easier to give and it was interested to read who they gifted it to and why and how they honoured the couple who provided it

I also liked how Dinan and Brian became travelers rather than tourists and their reactions to places and people who treated the places they visited as extensions to the places they left.

I found the book slowed in the middle, but picked back up and I am glad I finished it.

I also enjoyed the observations Dinan made including the universal language.

“A group of boys were lofting a basketball toward a netless rim on a dirt court in front of the village school…One of the boys pinwheeled his arm at Brian, gesturing for him to come and play…I added sports to the mental list I’d been keeping of common languages. So far the list included smiling, laughter, food, music, dancing, and fawning over small babies.”

A copy of this book was provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.