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The Joy of Wealth: Bernardo Moya in Conversation with Ken Honda

Here at The Best You Magazine, we dive deep into the lives and insights of extraordinary individuals shaping our world. Bernardo Moya, editor-in-chief of The Best You, had the honor of sitting down with Ken Honda, he 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, English, and Spanish; lived in Boston, Massachusetts for two years; and currently resides in Tokyo, Japan. Learn more at KenHonda.com.

Bernardo: Ken, so lovely to see you again and so lovely to talk to you again. Thank you so much for your time.

Ken: Thank you so much, Bernardo. This is my pleasure and honor to come back here.

B: Well, Ken, I’ve been a big fan. I am very blessed you have spoken at some of our previous events. You’re a very busy man. I can see you all over the world traveling and doing conferences. So I would love for you to share the happy money philosophy. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, please?

K: Yes, so happy money is money that makes you smile when you receive it, when you spend it, and it just brings you joy when you think of money. That’s what happy money does.

B: You normally discuss the emotional aspect of it, alongside obviously the financial. How is this emotional wealth?

K: Even though you have millions and billions of dollars in your bank account, if you’re not happy emotionally, you are living in the gutter. And on the contrary, if you don’t have any money in your bank account, but if you feel like you’re the most abundant, prosperous person on earth, you are a happy man. So you have to really take control of your emotions. Realistically, you need to have some money in your bank account to not worry about money. But you have to have the right balance of having enough money and then finding emotional wealth and abundance in your everyday life.

B: I love when you give practical steps to take action. Can you share some of those, please?

K: Sure! Next time you receive money, just appreciate the money coming in. Thank the money. Thank the person who just gave you the money. Because they, your clients, could have chosen somebody else instead of you, but they trusted you. They chose you to pay the money to. 

Also, there are many reasons to appreciate the person and the money for coming in, because the money you receive is going to do some good for you, your family, your employees or the people you work with. And when you pay bills, your money will be in somebody else’s hands to bless the world. Hopefully the money comes all around back to you soon.

B: Everything happens for a reason and gratitude is a really important aspect I think. Obviously in money as well, isn’t it? Anything you have, anything that happens, it’s just being grateful.

K: Yes. A happy, prosperous person has that attitude. On the other hand, if you become greedy and if you don’t know how to be content with what you have, you always want to make more. You always want to have more. You always want to do more. And then you’ll be in this rat race.

Even though you’re financially independent or financially successful, as you run faster, the wheel goes faster, too. So you’ll always be dizzy, just chasing after one business model after another.

B: You’ve traveled the world and your book has been translated into so many different languages. What, if any, have you observed as far as cultural differences in the way that people use or manage money?

K: You know, my observation is that Asian people are more open to money, especially Chinese culture. In China it’s pretty common in an interview to ask each other how much money you make. But in North America and Europe, Western culture, it would be quite rude if you just ask a stranger or even your college buddy or among partners and close friends how much money you made last year. A lot of people associate how much money you have or how much money you make with your self-worth. This brings lots of shame and anxiety around money. I think that’s more prevalent in Western culture.

B: And what’s the role of money in relationships? Because it’s still a taboo for many couples that struggle to be open about their finances, discuss them. What’s your thoughts?

K: Right. So it’s interesting how you were born and brought up in your family. In my case for example, in my family vacations we always said that taking something from the fridge in the hotel room is out of bounds because it’s more expensive. One time I checked into a hotel with my wife, we were very recently married at the time, and she took out a cold soda from the fridge and just started drinking and I thought, “you can’t do that!”. When I brought it up to her she told me that her parents encouraged her to have a drink if she wanted to so the hotel could make extra money. For me it was a totally different concept since my parents made me scared of the fridge, telling me that young children get electric shocks if they touch the box. I think my parents were probably joking, but until now, I feel a little bit afraid of the little box.

The point is, we are born and brought up under different circumstances. Some people are spenders, some people are savers, some people are moneymakers, some people are indifferent to money. But in the end everyone worries about money. The interesting thing is, opposite people are usually attracted to one another. But sometimes after a few years people find out they fall apart with their partners for the same reason they got together. Spending patterns or overworking and dismissing their partner’s needs. So we really need to understand how money works. And also, your constitution, your rules of money. Those are very different from your partner and your friends too. You have to pay more attention to it and work on achieving a middleground. Because without thinking, the default way is the rules that you were brought up with.

B: Thank you, Ken. You tell people about the wealth container concept. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

K: Yes, Bernardo, you keep asking great questions. Thank you for that. You know, I think everyone is born with a certain money container size, some small, some big, like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, they are born with a huge container. And some of us, like school teachers, nurses and police officers, we’re not born to make money. So If you try to put too much money in a small container it’s going to wreck it. That’s why a lot of lottery winners and also a lot of sports people like baseball or soccer players, end up losing a lot after their retirement. I believe it’s because our container has a certain size. Of course you can grow them. But unless you pay attention to it, we overdo it or we under appreciate what we have and we end up losing our happiness.

B: With the rise of digital currencies, do you think they could play a healthier role with money? And if so, how do the principles of happy money apply if they change in any way?

K: I think money will change its form in a very interesting way. I think our financial system cannot keep the way it is after COVID, all the big governments in the top 20 financial giants in the world like the U.S., France, Japan etc kept on printing more money and kept on providing more cash into the system. So that’s why everything is shooting up.

At the same time, it seems that the real estate bubble is collapsing in places like San Francisco, all the major cities in Europe and major cities in China. Not much like in Canada or Japan at this point. But you never know. So some money goes to gold, or it goes to other assets like cryptocurrency. But it shoots up and down. A friend of mine who doesn’t have a high money IQ bought some crypto at its peak, then the coin dropped like 30 percent. He got scared, and wanted to sell everything. I believe that if he holds on to it, it’ll be OK. But low money IQ people just tend to lose everything because they’re not suited to make money. So you really have to pay attention, otherwise you’ll just be driven away by your greed and fear in the coming years.

B: As you said, the inflation, the uncertainty with a lot of things going on around the world now… you tend to think that there’s just going to be a breaking point at some time. Thoughts?

K: Yes, I think it could happen any minute. And we have to be ready for what a potential crash could be. But the good news is that it’s not like nuclear weapons to just blow us all. The financial system may fail, but human beings will stay. We will keep eating, heating up our places and we need to just keep going. So even though there could be a potential crisis, we’re still human beings who will keep on living. If we have to come up with a new system, this time we’ll pay less attention to money.

Like 200 years ago, people were obsessed with salt and pepper, that was a big commodity. Because we now have other resources, in a few years we may be paying less attention to money. Hopefully there will be some kind of basic universal income so we don’t have to feel the fear of survival. And a good medical system on a world wide scale too. That’s something that people don’t have in industrialized countries but other countries already have at the cost of high taxes.

After a financial crisis we will need to restructure our system, because one way or another, we cannot really keep going the way we do. So I’m just curious to see who the next president will be in North America and what European leaders come up. It’s very disturbing what’s happening in some parts of the continent. We have some good news and some bad news. So we have to really open our eyes and then we have to be ready for the impact.

B: I hope we get some real good leaders, because it seems that we’ve messed it all up for younger generations. I know you’re involved in a lot of educational programs for children and kids. In my case I didn’t learn anything about banking, money or having a credit card or a debit card at school. I learned nothing about finances. Is that changing?

K: I think in some countries the educational system is changing that. But still, they’re just talking about the stock market. It’s not really about financial education because it’s too much based on money IQ. I think it’s more important that at school we build money IQ. Because a lot of us do so many stupid things to impress our girlfriends or boyfriends or impress other friends. We should pay more attention to our guilt, competition, shame and embarrassment at school, because if we can be free from financial guilt or funny feelings about who’s got the newest iPhones or whatnot, I think we’ll be more peaceful at school.

B: I used to read a lot about new technology, I remember reading about Google and Amazon before they were launched. And although I had money, I never thought of investing because it wasn’t something that was brought up to me. Of course if I would have bought shares of Amazon and Google then I’d be a millionaire by now. These are the kinds of things we’re not taught at schools. And I believe it just has to change dramatically.

K: Yes. And also, it’s not too late for us because there’s a lot of new things happening too. A friend of mine was asked to promote bitcoins like 10 years ago, at the very beginning stage. They offered to pay with bitcoin, but he thought that it was just trash so he cashed it out into dollars. But if you calculate how much he had and what it could be worth today, it’s supposed to be like $20 million if he kept it. 

What I mean is, that money is an illusion. We lost opportunities like that all the time. If you face your life you will realize that besides that loss, something good will turn out too. Look at people like Warren Buffett, he didn’t buy any cryptocurrency. There are so many ways to become millionaires.

B: Exactly, let it go and let it flow. I used to travel the world with a friend of mine, he loved to “redistribute wealth” by giving money to kids. This little bit of money I have means a lot to them, so I’m balancing the scale.  What’s your thoughts regarding philanthropy and giving money away? 

K: Yeah, so if you have more than enough, you should do it. I really love the concept of “Die With Zero”, it’s a beautiful book by Bill Perkins, you should pick it up. My happy money book is also great. But I think for those of you who have more than enough, read Die With Zero, we cannot die with our money. Of course you have to pay your bills and do things right for your family members. But if you have more than enough, just help other people. You only can take your happy memories with you when you’re on your deathbed. You cannot enjoy the numbers of your online banking. So try to help a lot of people, especially young ones and people in need. So you feel good when you go on to the next life.

B: So Ken, we’re just about to get to the end soon. But I’d like to know, what are you working on? What excites Ken Honda now?

K: Thank you. So I’m going to publish my second English book. It’s called True Wealth. It’s a novel about a 20 year old boy who receives a package from his grandfather’s lawyer. There are nine letters and each one has a title. The first one is synchronicity, the second one is decision, action, money and so on. He opens them one by one and then he goes on a journey.

It’s a novel about the discovery of your life, and also the true wealth of his grandfather. This boy didn’t have good communication with his grandfather while he was alive, so I put it into this novel format to teach people what is important in your life.

Be curious about what’s coming next. Follow your heart, follow your synchronicities. That is the theme. So you’re going to really enjoy the book.

B: I love it. Can’t wait. When is it coming out, Ken?

K: In May, from Hay House.

B: Great. And anything else exciting you’re working on?

K: Yeah, so I’m finally going to start my English YouTube channel. And I’m going to translate some of my books. I’ve published more than 60 or 70 books, I think they need to be translated. So I’m so excited about sharing what I know about happiness, money, how to find your heart and how to find peace with your life. 

B: Can’t wait, Ken. I also believe very much in connecting the dots. With the years I started realizing that everything happens for a reason. God, the universe, the higher spirit, whatever it is, doesn’t have Instagram, they don’t have WhatsApp. So they have to send you messages through people or through an advert you see on TV, do you know what I mean? So what’s your thoughts? What does connecting the dots mean to you?

K: For me it is what has always been connected in your heart, like what your mom used to say, your dad or teacher, your friends, or somebody who passed away that you really care about. It’s that feeling of realization when you think “that’s what my mother used to say” and you really find out what they meant. And then you feel the massive love explode in your heart. Is almost like an enlightenment, connecting dots, not in your head, but in your heart. When you feel the massive love energy, then your life will be transformed.

B: Well, Ken, once again, thank you so much. We’ll leave all the information. Of course, you’re going to be on YouTube, but where else can people find you?

K: People, you can find all the information at kenhonda.com. You can find my Arigato Living Community. We meet monthly, some people from European time, some people from North, Central, South American time. There I teach about happy money and share lots of fun stories together. And as always it was  fun to have a chat with you, Bernardo. So just invite me anytime. 

B: Thank you so much, Ken. Thank you so much. 

K: Thank you so much. Thank you. Bye bye.

Bernardo Moya

Bernardo is the founder of The Best You, author of The Question, Find Your True Purpose, an entrepreneur, writer, publisher, TV producer and seminar promoter to some of the biggest names in Personal Development. He is editor-in-chief of The Best You magazine – a fascinating voice in the Personal Development world.

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