Saturday, October 24, 2009

Final Review of How to be Rich and Happy

I finished reading How to be Rich and Happy last week. I wanted to take some time to think about the impact the book has had on me before writing my final review.

First, I highly suggest that you download the free portion of the book before deciding whether it is the right book for you. Since I started reading, the authors have expanded the free portion another 9 pages to include the first exercise, one I found incredibly helpful and interesting, to identify your core values. The price has also been reduced since I wrote my first partial review about the book.

Some of the exercises were more helpful to me than others. The one thing everyone should know about this book, and probably all types of self-help books, is that in order to benefit from it, you must be open and ready to implement change. If you are unwilling to try something new or think about something in a different way, this book is not for you.

Overall, I think the book is very encouraging and positive. The authors discuss facts versus beliefs, which now comes to mind every time I'm about to say something. The book encourages personal responsibility for making a decision and can be very empowering.

While reading this book, I had a personal insight. In Star Wars, Yoda says "Do or do not, there is no try." That phrase always bothered me. I thought it was pretty harsh, because I often tried hard and failed, yet I didn't want to see it as failure. Now I see that I tended to defer decision making and made excuses. I called this trying, when in fact I was not doing. It opened the door for me to acknowledge the truth to myself and to take increased responsibility for what I choose to do and not do.

It helped me see how much my self-esteem is largely dependent on how I think other people see me. The funny part is that I was very independent in high school, not caring too much about what anyone thought of me.

In college, I swung the other way, finding myself on unstable footing surrounded by people who I assumed had more information than I did. I second-guessed everything I thought I knew and became largely passive and dependent. I made some of my worst decisions in college, especially when it came to the guys I dated.

Now I'm trying to find a balance. I see the stagnation when I doubt myself or don't think I have enough information. It ties into my fear of failure, which I am daily taking steps to embrace and accept.

I know that I can decide what is right for me without judging other people for making different decisions. The authors suggest that reaching my potential and living a rich and happy life makes the world a better place. I am the only one holding me back.

The book definitely helped me see what I am already doing to achieve my rich and happy goals. I'm still not sure how the rich part will factor into my own life. The most important things to me are not things that create income, or at least won't in the way I'd like to pursue them. I could simply redefine what rich means to me, yet it is a fact that many things are almost impossible to do without some cold, hard cash.

The book reminded me to consider how much benefit I get from the cost of something. It's a simple evaluation of utility, a cost/benefit analysis. Evaluate something based on the amount of happy you get from each dollar spent and then decide whether it contributes to your rich and happy life.

Of course, my economics major husband knew that already.

The last thing I would suggest if you're still not sure about whether this book is right for you or not, is to read the Table of Contents (page 3 in the free download). Look at the headings for each chapter. If any of them intrigue you and get you thinking hard about how you can improve your life, it's probably worth it. If you're turned off by the title of the book and the chapter headings don't change your mind, don't bother.

The bottom line: If you're open to making significant improvements in your life and like to have a lot of good information all together in one book, this could be a good solution for you. If you're willing to do a little more leg work in the form of web searches, you can probably find a lot of similar advice and guidelines for free online. A lot of the blogs I follow discuss self-improvement and this book wouldn't have had as much of an impact on me if it had not been preceded by the doorways already opened by what I have been reading on the web.

Let me know if you have any questions! And thanks to Tim Brownson for giving me this review opportunity.

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