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Part 1: Book about wealth makes good sense since it's all in our head

By Dian Vujovich

Charles Richards, Ph.D. recently published a book titled “The Psychology of Wealth” (McGraw-Hill, January 2012) that has landed in the #1 bestseller slot at Amazon.com and on newspaper book lists like USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The book is an interesting read particularly for those who want to review their own life’s relationship with money. And, have a desire to teach their kids or help others understand that there’s more to making money—and acquiring wealth— than simply bringing home a paycheck.

In an email interview with Richards, I asked him four questions about money: What are 3 things you think the wealthy need to consider regarding their riches; Why does the rice paddy to rice paddy in three generations still happen; In the whole big scheme of things, how much does our wealth have to do with how we live/conduct our lives; and, Explain why brains and financial riches don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand?

This is Part 1 of a four-part series in which Richards answers each question.

Q: What are 3 things you think the wealthy need to consider regarding their riches?

A: While conducting interviews with many successful people for my book, I saw a confirmation of something that the wealthy know well—that is, that money doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Lottery winners may be the unfortunate proof of this now-well-documented adage. Fully one-third of all big lottery winners lose their winnings, and many end up with damaged families and other broken relationships and identities. Many come to regret their windfalls. However, it is just as true that what you do with your money can bring a true and encompassing psychological wealth.

The common denominator among the people I interviewed who feel truly wealthy, financially and otherwise, is that they all give back in some way. Doing so creates a balance in their lives and provides a sense of fulfillment that having money alone can’t. The owner of SUCCESS magazine, Stuart Johnson, is a great example of this. His SUCCESS Foundation is a way of sharing what he’s learned with kids. He started his own businesses as a teenager, so he feels a special kinship with and understanding of young entrepreneurs. He wants them to benefit from his experience, and working with them brings him a great deal of joy. Teaching others, particularly the next generation, good fiscal habits and conscious management of one’s financial life is a gift that the wealthy are in a particularly great position to offer.

As psychologist and wealth counselor Szifra Birke says, “Money tends not to solve personal problems; money solves money problems.” To maintain one’s life balance and be able to enjoy the psychological benefits that wealth offers, it’s important to stay in touch with—or work to discover—one’s core values and stay true to them.

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