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People who have a psychology of wealth challenge themselves to move beyond their comfort zone to pursue a goal or a dream. They write down goals. They plan. They visualize.

~ Charles Richards, The Psychology of Wealth


The Psychology of Wealth: Understand Your Relationship with Money and Achieve Prosperity is a new book by Charles Richards. It was born out of the author's desire to understand why some people with a lot of money don't feel wealthy, while others with comparatively little money feel quite fulfilled. How do we define wealth? Did something go awry in our collective psychology of wealth to spawn the 2008 financial crisis?

Although he is a practicing clinical psychologist and coach to numerous Fortune 100 senior executives, Dr. Richards took a somewhat unique approach to answering his questions about what a true psychology of wealth might look like. Rather than embarking on a rigourous academic study, he pooled together common traits he's observed in dealing with wealthy people over the years. He conducted interviews with some of these people as well as with financial and economic experts.

The result is a book that paints a picture of the psychology of wealth, drawing on a series of anecdotal profiles of a wide variety of people who embody the psychology of wealth. These short stories, woven throughout the book, are often extremely inspiring – not just because of what these folks achieved, but because of how they achieved it.

I thought I might take a unique approach to this review as well. When I read a book, I usually take some notes and write out quotations that catch my attention. Below, you'll find a list of some of the common characteristics of people who have achieved a psychology of wealth. These are  individuals who have achieved a level of comfort with their financial life as well as with the overall quality of their lives – the two are intimately connected, as you'll see. Rather than explain each characteristic, I'm going to share a series of quotes from the book that illustrate the trait.

Psychology of Wealth: Common Characteristics

The following list of quotations may include thoughts from Dr. Richards, or from some of the people he profiled in The Psychology of Wealth. He found that these characteristics seemed to surface again and again in the most successful people he has encountered in his work:

Determination

  • From Aristotle: “First, have a definite, clear, practical idea – a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends – wisdom, money, material, and method. Third, Adjust all your means to that end.”
  • ‘If you don't know where you want to go – if you are unconscious of what you want – ending up “somewhere else” may be the inevitable result.'
  • “Success requires a conscious decision to do and be something more.”
Self-Esteem
  • An “effective way to build self-esteem is by raising our awareness of how we think and by making a conscious habit of replacing negative language with positive language when thinking and speaking about ourselves and others. Surrounding oneself with positive messages and with successful and happy people are powerful methods for increasing one's sense of self-worth.”
  • Henry Ford: “[Everyone] should look for the single spark of individuality that makes him different from other folks and develop that for all he is worth. Society and schools may try to iron it out of him; their tendency is to put it all in the same mold, but I say don't let that spark be lost; it is your only real claim to importance.”
Personal Responsibility
  • Tony Cupisz: “What you think is what you are, and what you believe is what you're going to have.”
  • Darren Hardy: “Personal responsibility is a conscious choice . . . you make your choices and then your choices make you.”
  • Sardine sandwich story told by author Brian Tracy about “a construction worker who, on his lunch break, complains loudly and profusely about having a sardine sandwich. To the annoyance of his coworkers, he repeats his complaint about his sardine sandwich every day for the next few days. Finally, one of his coworkers leans over and suggests that he ask his wife to make him something else for lunch. The man replies, “Oh, I'm not married. I make my own lunches!” What are we griping about in our lives, but do little to change?
  • If we choose to take on debt, make sure we do it “consciously” rather than “unconsciously.” There's an interesting comparison chart in the book that illustrates the difference.
  • J.C. Watts: “At some point I have to realize that I'm the common denominator in everything that happens to me.”
Risk-Taking
  • “We must be willing not only to accept responsibility but also t take a chance on ourselves in order to achieve our broader goals – particularly now.”
  • “What keeps us from realizing our personal dreams of fulfillment and success? . . . it's primarily fear and inertia.”
  • Anais Nin: “Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.”
Dealing with Obstacles and Setbacks
  • Psychologist and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl: “meaning in life does not come from what happens to us, but from how we interpret what happens to us.”
  • Tony Cupisz: “Success is not going to come to you if you don't fight for it. You can't try something and say it doesn't work just because it did not work yet. For me, it's about never quitting.”
Giving: Prosperity Through Generosity
  • “When you are feeling down, do something kind for someone else. A kindness given is also a gift to yourself.”
  • “whatever you give with an open heart will naturally come back to you – not because you expect it, but because you don't.”
  • Dennis Gardin: “It's impossible to extend oneself from a place of purity and goodness to help another person without being helped in the process.”

Win a Free Copy of The Psychology of Wealth

I found this book to be inspirational. It presented many of the elements of personal finance in a new light for me. The stories were both touching and informative. This is a great read for anyone who's interested in improving their life. I'll leave you with one last quote: “it's not the pursuit of wealth that brings value and meaning to life; it's the pursuit of meaning and value that brings wealth.”

The publisher has generously offered to send a free copy of The Psychology of Wealth to one lucky reader. If you leave a comment on this review, you'll be entered for a chance to win the book. The winner will be chosen by random number. Comments posted before 5 PM on Sunday, March 25, 2012 will be included in the draw. I'll notify the winner via email on the 25th, but I won't be posting it here on the site. Good luck to all!