The #1 Key to Building Wealth with Ken Honda – Japan’s Leading Wealth Expert and Zen Millionaire

Written by: Snježana Ana Billian, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Money and happiness expert Ken Honda is a best-selling self-development author in Japan, with book sales surpassing seven million copies since 2001. His latest book is called “Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money” (June 4, 2019, Simon & Schuster). 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 Honda
Ken Honda

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, lived in Boston, Massachusetts, for two years, and currently resides in Tokyo, Japan. Learn more at

Your book Happy Money is an international bestseller, and thanks to the concept you share in it, you've achieved financial freedom while still in your twenties. Can you let us in on the secret of Happy Money?

There are two kinds of money: Happy Money and Unhappy Money. Happy Money makes you smile when you receive it, whereas Unhappy Money makes you feel irritated.

With Happy Money, you experience joy when you give it away. You know that the money you spend will enrich other people's lives and then come back to you. In other words, when you have Happy Money, you always feel good—both when you're giving and receiving.

With Unhappy Money, you feel frustration and worry. It's the kind of money you begrudgingly spend to pay your bills and taxes. And even when you're on the receiving end, you don't feel happy about it. Unhappy Money can come in the form of a salary for a job you don't like but can't bring yourself to change, or as alimony after a stressful divorce.

Most of us have experienced feeling anxious about money. What's the best way to turn Unhappy Money into Happy Money?

First of all, you need to understand that Happy Money is not about how much money you make or have. It's about the energy with which you give and receive money.

When you receive money, that means that somebody chose you, out of many other people, to be the recipient. For example, if you're a restaurant owner, they decided to eat at yours, out of so many restaurants. And if you're a freelancer, they chose you out of all other people offering a similar service. If you're an employee, out of many potential candidates, your employer picked you.

Therefore, there are millions of reasons for you to appreciate money when you receive it. When a person chooses to pay you, they show you that they trust you. If you can share the same appreciation back to that person, your money becomes happy. When, instead of gratitude, you feel negative emotions around the money you receive, your money becomes unhappy.

Many people work in a job they don't love, but they are afraid to make a change because they need to feel financially secure. What advice would you give to people who sacrifice their professional fulfillment to provide for their families?