By: Sasha Frate, Published on January 14, 2020
Money and happiness expert Ken Honda is a best-selling self-development author in Japan whose book sales have surpassed seven million copies since 2001. His latest book is entitled Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money. Ken studied law at Waseda University in Tokyo and entered the Japanese workforce as a business consultant and investor. Ken’s financial expertise comes from owning and managing several businesses, including an accounting company, a management consulting firm, and a venture capital corporation. His writings bridge the topics of finance and self-help, focusing on creating and generating personal wealth and happiness through deeper self-honesty. Ken provides ongoing support through mentoring programs, business seminars, therapeutic workshops, and correspondence courses.
Ken is the first person from Japan to be voted into the Transformational Leadership Council—a group of personal and professional development leaders. He is fluent in Japanese and English, has lived in Boston, Massachusetts for two years, and currently resides in Tokyo, Japan.
FtC enjoyed a unique discussion with Ken Honda that touched on topics including the ways in which we can heal our past money wounds, the difference between “Happy Money” and “Unhappy Money”, the true purpose of money, and the reasons we can all benefit by shifting our relationships with money.
Sasha Frate: In your book Happy Money you reveal the Japanese art of making peace with your money. Why do you believe there is a need for people to “make peace” with their money?
Ken Honda: Money is such a big part of each of our lives and I know how powerful shifting your relationship with money can be. In my book Happy Money I’ve invited people to make peace with their money. This might seem like a strange thing to say, but most people I meet are at war with their money. When they think about money, they immediately think they don’t have enough and that they never will. They get stressed out and overwhelmed, and they fight with their partners trying to figure out how to handle their money. When people make peace with their money, they are able to feel good about their money when they think about it—they are able to trust that there will be enough, and they are able to spend their money in ways that align with their values. The funny thing is, when people make peace with their money, they often find there is also more of it because they no longer spend their money from a fearful place.
SF: Just reading your explanations of “Happy” and “Unhappy Money” immediately evokes feelings that are indeed commonly associated with these scenarios. Can you describe the difference between “Happy Money” and “Unhappy Money” and why you say we are either in flow with one or the other?
KH: I like to think of “Happy Money” as money that makes you feel really good when it’s spent. When you think of a child who spends her money to buy her mother a gift, her whole face lights up when the gift is opened. Or, think of the feeling you get when you are able to help out someone in need. This is money that comes with freedom and joy.
“Unhappy Money” is money that is spent with a feeling of anger, resentment, or any other negative emotion. Think about the angry feeling you might get when you pay a parking ticket or how upset you are when you have lost some money.
At the end of the day, what you spend your money on doesn’t dictate the flow of money you are in. For example, you could buy your mother a gift but feel like you are doing it out of obligation. You could pay a parking ticket but do it with a spirit of appreciation that people are making sure that things are running smoothly.
SF: “Money as energy” is such a great perspective. What does it mean to you and how do you explain it in your book?
KH: By itself, money doesn’t mean anything. If you give a two-year-old a bag full of money, they won’t understand it as anything but paper. It’s more about the symbolism of the exchange of energy that is possible with money. For example, “I give you this piece of paper which represents my labor in exchange for your labor.”
When we think of it in a little larger perspective, we notice that everything has an energy to it. In Japan, we think of things more like people. So, you’ll see someone like Marie Kondo teaching that it’s important that the things in your home “spark joy.” This is a way of saying that the energy of a thing should be joyful.
SF:“So much money exists in the world. There is so much money out there right now spreading happiness and love, but so much is also spreading sadness and fear.” You’ve identified the impact that the emotions wrapped up in our money and this energy produced by money can have not only on ourselves, but on others around us. What does that impact look like?
KH: When we spend happy money, we are spending with the future in mind. We buy things that help other people. We spend our money on things that help the planet.
So much money is spent on our desire to run from bad feelings such as our sense of aloneness, our sadness, and our feelings of powerlessness. Can you imagine if we joined together and spent that money to bring joy to others? The world would be a much happier place.
The good news is this is happening! When I was a boy, there was a massive earthquake in my hometown of Kobe. People from around the world sent food and water, clothes, medicine, and all kinds of resources. We could feel the love from these gifts in our time of need.
SF: Can you explain the concepts of Money IQ and Money EQ?
KH: Money IQ and Money EQ are two sides of the same coin. Money EQ happens to be what I have spent my time explaining in Happy Money; it’s your emotional intelligence around money including how you feel about it and the ways in which your emotions affect your decisions.
Money IQ is your financial intelligence; it’s about the daily operations of money including how to invest wisely, save well, and negotiate.
The reason that I teach Money EQ as the foundation of your relationship to money is that we all know of really wealthy people who make really disastrous decisions. This usually happens when people have a sense of woundedness around money. So, the first step is to make sure that you are emotionally in a good place with money, and then you can figure out how to make smart money choices.
Read the full article here: Creating Abundance with “Happy Money” Zen Millionaire, Ken Honda