Have you ever noticed that the thing you want the most seems just out of reach when you’re obsessing about it, but when you relax and put your focus elsewhere, suddenly it’s there as if by magic?
I see this all the time. Someone really wants to get married, and they’re serial dating, but somehow every person they date is a flake. They spend years in this cycle until they finally decide to put the focus on themselves. They get off of the dating apps. They focus on their friends and their career — then the girlfriend appears.
My guest today, Ken Honda (aka the Zen Millionaire), says the same thing happens with money. When we’re stuck in a state of yearning, we’re bringing that anxious, fearful, desperate energy to our relationship with money. We bring our unhappiness to it when what we need to bring is our happiness to it.
But how do we do that? How do we bring positivity to our financial situation, even if we’ve struggled with debt and limitations for years? It’s a paradox that maybe only the Zen Millionaire can answer. Let’s get into it!
Ken Honda is the best-selling author of Happy Money, a wealth and personal development book which teaches a revolutionary approach to money. For 25 years, Ken has been teaching and mentoring people in Japan about how to understand and heal unconscious money wounds, achieve peace of mind, and learn practical, powerful ways to increase abundance.
He has been featured worldwide in media outlets such as Forbes, ABC, Good Morning America, mindbodygreen, and Psychology Today. Ken has sold more than seven million copies of his books and also runs the Arigato Living Community, a platform that brings people on the happy money path together to support each other, learn from Ken, and challenge each other to grow.
How much time do you spend complaining about all of the things you don’t have, and how much time do you spend recognizing and appreciating what you do have?
So many of us spend way more time than we should be focusing on lack. I hate to break it to you, but this usually leads to more lack. Now I’m not saying we should pretend that everything is great when it’s not. We need to be honest with ourselves. What I am saying is that when we focus on appreciation, it opens doors to opportunities, solutions, and abundance.
Gratitude greatly helps us attract what we want. But when you’re broke and trying to attract money, you may question what you have to be grateful for. If you’re looking at an empty bank account, where is the abundance?
“There are so many aspects of abundance. [There are] visible assets and [there are] invisible assets. [Money] is just … a small portion of your abundance.” – Ken Honda
The problem may be that, as a culture, we sometimes have a very narrow definition of what abundance and success is. We celebrate visible assets — things like cars, cash, and our jobs — but we don’t always appreciate the invisible assets, like peace of mind, love, and even a connection to nature. We’re hyper-fixated on money.
“In North America, … people think how much [someone] makes is how much they’re worth. … You may be good-looking, but if you don’t make much, it’s like you’re nothing. If you make a lot of money — even if you’re a terrible person — you’re respected.” – Ken Honda
Ken said that to master abundance, you need to redefine what abundance means. While one person may have an abundance of money, others may have an abundance of talent or friendships.
Having talent might earn you the gift of other people’s appreciation, while having relationships may earn you the gift of support — even financial support when you’re down and out. Having an abundance of friends is a signal that you also have an abundance of charisma, kindness, or whatever traits helped you get all of those friends in the first place.
Of course, I know you want to make money too! It may be one area of abundance, but it can greatly enhance our quality of life. You don’t have to trade peace of mind, love, friendships, talent, or anything else to make money — you can have all of those things. You just need to take so much of your focus off of money so you can cultivate gratitude.
According to Ken, the key to success with money is to become friends with it. This means honestly looking at how you feel about money and making the commitment to change your perspective so you can shift your emotions. Only then can you cultivate the right energy flow between you and money.
“My favorite question to ask people is: If money was a person, who would it be? … Would it be a fun person, [who is] always joking [and] always entertaining you? … Or is it somebody like [an] assassin … [who’s] going try to hurt you or scare you? Or [is it] gangsters who try … to intimidate you? … If you are complaining, money may not be such a fun, good person. By complaining, you make money by being a villain, and you don’t want that scary person living in your house.” – Ken Honda
One way to start considering money your friend is to notice all the things it is already doing for you. Welcome new paychecks joyfully, the way you would welcome a friend. You can also take it one step further — thank money when it leaves you. I was a little surprised at first when Ken mentioned this second step, so I asked him why he would thank money for leaving. He explained that he learned this practice from one of his mentors.
“He said, ‘When money comes, say ‘arigato’ or ‘thank you’ to money. And when you pay money, when money leaves your life, once again say ‘arigato’ to your money. Really thank the money for staying with you. Even if it was a short visit, thank [it] for staying. Money will love that. And then, at night, money will just start to say, ‘Ken is a good place to go.’ And then money will come back.” – Ken Honda
That’s so great, and it really helps us get into the frame of mind of being in a relationship with money. There are also concrete reasons to be thankful for money when it’s leaving you.
“If you get a bill, that means somebody did something for you. For example, if it’s an electricity bill, you know [that] because of the electricity company, you can use the internet. You can have lighting and use the microphone and a computer. … [Then there are] people who [work] at the power plants. … There’s somebody who brought oil from the Middle East. … [There are people who made sure it was ] installed properly. There are millions of reasons to appreciate electricity.” – Ken Honda
Ken said that we could even find reasons to be thankful for debt. I know this may seem really crazy to you, but again, we’re trying to shift our perspective to cultivate positive emotions. When we heal our money wounds, we stop letting our life force get drained with negativity, and we cultivate a better relationship with money.
“If you are in debt, money only brings about negative emotions such as shame, guilt, [and] frustration. It’s because you look at debt as a punishment or curse. I always advise people who are in debt to [look at things] differently. … 5 years ago, 10 years ago, you borrowed money from someone. That means they trusted you. They trusted your earning ability [and] that you would pay them back. So that is not a curse or burden. It’s a trust placed on you.” – Ken Honda
Guys, how much of your life force gets swallowed up in anger, hopelessness, and grief around debt, whether it’s student loan payments you’re making, credit card debt, or alimony payments? I get it. Not only are you forking out money every month, but you’re reminded of what you think were bad choices or bad experiences. If you’re 30 and still paying for the pizza you bought in college, you might be bitter.
However, you can heal these wounds. Do any forgiveness work you can to liberate yourself from that baggage. Your prosperity depends on it.
“Just look at it from money’s perspective. … If you’ve been complaining about it … [the] feeling is mutual. [If] you complain about … [it, it will say] ‘No. I’m not gonna come to you.’ … I think subconsciously if you are complaining about money, you don’t want it to be near you.” – Ken Honda
I love Ken’s perspective because it really takes us out of our egos and helps us see things from a broader perspective. When we realize that we have a relationship with money and that it’s reciprocal, we can understand more clearly why we’re having trouble with it.
That broad perspective and ability to think beyond the self may be a wonderful part of Japanese culture. I found what Ken told me about many Japanese millionaires very compelling. He said that a lot of them keep a little shrine in their homes that is a miniature design of a house. Every day, they pray or meditate at the shrine.
“It’s like an appreciation exercise. [They say ‘Thank you for my being alive’] and for my family’s health. Thank you for my business.’ And they pray for the success and prosperity of their clients and customers and for their happiness. … They pray for their … employees. They pray to their ancestors.” – Ken Honda
What a beautiful practice and a great reminder that the happiness of those around us, especially of our customers and clients, impacts us.
Guys, this interview is brimming with fascinating insights from Ken Honda! It was such a pleasure to get his perspective on wealth, and I can’t say I’ve quite heard anything else like what he has to say. Don’t forget to buy his book and send some copies to your friends. It could change their lives!
I want to acknowledge Ken for generously sharing his wisdom and transforming the lives of so many people.
“I think the definition of greatness is knowing who you are and staying happy with it.” – Ken Honda
If this topic hit home for you, please let me know! Tag Ken, @happykenhonda, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram and include your greatest takeaways.
Join me on Episode #1,241 to learn about creating abundance and financial freedom with the wonderful Ken Honda. It’ll change your life!
let us know your thoughts