How to be Rich and Happy

by Jack on June 2010

This is a review of the book “How To Be Rich And Happy” by John P. Strelecky, and Tim Brownson. John works as a teacher and author in the area of leadership and personal development, and Tim works as a life coach, blogger and NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Together, they have written this book as a resource to “help people live the life they want to live”.

The 31 chapters of the book cover a wide range of topics in personal development, such as values, goal setting, and changing your moods, beliefs, and mindsets. Overall, I find their optimistic, and good humored approach to personal development very much in line with the concepts and practices that I explore right here at T3D. The book also uses a smart-ass sense of humor that reminds the reader not to take life too seriously. I personally found the authors’ humor highly appealing, but if this kind of thing bothers you, consider yourself warned. (Also, what are you doing reading this blog anyway? I though I would have frightened you off by now. ;))

The book is full of case studies and anecdotes that illuminate the foundational principles that the authors aim to teach. However, it’s not simply a “Chicken Soup” book of anecdotes and stories, as the authors drill deeply into the underlying principles too. As a result, it is a fast and yet dense read full of good information and practical approaches to living your own “Rich and Happy” (hereafter abbreviated as R&H) life.

The desired state of R&H is defined by the authors as “the ability to do whatever you want, when you want”. In order to enter this state and to consistently live in it most of the time, you will almost certainly want to define for yourself a more specific set of goals than an abstract “whatever you want”. As a result, the book goes into significant detail about values elicitation – that is, the process of identifying your most strongly held personal values.

I found this exercise extremely valuable and the process of going through it enabled me to identify my top 8 “toward” values, and my top 8 “away from” values. Based on the exercise, I found that my own “top 8” values (in order) were happiness, freedom, growth, passion, adventure, courage, community and wealth. Learning these values and placing specific names on them helped me understand many different choices that I have made in the recent past. For the value I gained from this exercise alone, I would strongly recommend this book.

A large part of the book is dedicated to the concept of choosing and creating our own beliefs. Our current beliefs are largely based on choices that we have made about how to view events from our past history. If our existing beliefs are not helping us move forward toward our goals, the book shows us that it is possible to select empowering beliefs, generate a feeling of optimism and to install a healthy attitude about failure. The authors include a number of illustrative examples, exercises, and practical techniques to break the habits of pessimism and worrying, aversion to failure, and negative beliefs about money. They provide a simple framework that helps you to analyze how you are spending your time during the week. By analyzing which specific hours you spend living in alignment with your top 8 values, you can see which activities are contributing the most to your R&H minutes. As expected, the goal is to enjoy more of your time in R&H minutes, and to spend less of your time doing things you would rather not do.

Together with the simple and fun “3 favorite movies” exercise, this “R&H minutes” analysis helps you to identify what you are seeking from your life using a somewhat different approach from the “top 8 values” exercise. It helps you to figure out those specific, core, few things that you most want to do, see, and experience in your ideal experience of life. The book refers to these most desired, prized experiences as the “Big Five For Life” (BFFL). Reaching all of your BFFL would make you feel as though your life was complete and fulfilled, and that you could even die happy (even if you preferred not to :)). Examples of these might include spending an entire year traveling around the world, raising children, or completing a college degree. That is, these are large-scale, important, lifetime goals. Because these represent your most important life goals, time spent on, or working toward, your BFFL, is understandably to be prioritized over almost every other activity.

The authors analyze the use of money in a similar way. In their model, the R&H way of spending is to deploy money intelligently, with the greatest possible return on investment – that is, the greatest number of R&H minutes realized per dollar spent. In that sense, dollars that you spend on a BFFL goal have greater leverage and higher impact than dollars spent on more routine purchases (or worse yet, spent on unproductive purchases that actually make you feel less happy).

To integrate these concepts the book introduces the R&H matrix – a simple framework to analyze your earning and spending of money and to examine the contribution of your various actions to your level of happiness. The overall goal is to shift your habitual state to greater levels of happiness, whether you are earning money or not during those minutes. The R&H matrix provides another big-picture methodology to help you identify and follow the “whatever” in “whatever you want” and to devise a way to earn enough money to be able to do it. The process is illustrated with many case studies in order to make the concept of the R&H matrix more clear.

Additionally, the book provides a range of practical resources on identifying and leveraging your best assets; goal setting; stretching your comfort zone; asking others for what you want; quitting activities that don’t deliver R&H minutes to your life; changing your image and your identity; dealing with stress; and suggestions on when and how to take advice from others. These subjects are all treated well.

Although I would not describe How to be Rich and Happy as an “NLP book”, it also nevertheless contains some good introductory NLP resources on reframing your view of situations, and on altering your emotions and moods by altering your submodalities and your use of language.

In summary, this book covers a lot of ground. It provides a good balance between fundamental principles, illustrative anecdotes, and enjoyable exercises to be completed alone or with a partner. Of course, as with all personal development material, the ball is ultimately in your court. Simply buying this book won’t do anything for you. However, buying the book, learning the lessons, doing the exercises, and practicing the habits that it recommends, just might set you on the path to becoming “rich and happy”. I know that for me, it’s going to be a resource that I refer back to again and again.

A final note, and perhaps the most important message of all: the authors stand behind their content to the extent that they have established a goal of giving away one million copies of their book to people who could benefit from the message, but who are unlikely to have access to the book. As a result, they have pledged 90% of the proceeds from sales of the book to be used for this purpose.


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Thank you!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Brownson June 28, 2010 at 18:28

Hey Jack, many thanks for the review I really appreciate it!

To be fair you have pretty much nailed what we were trying to do with the book and the message we were trying to convey. Not a lot more I could ask from a review, so once again, thanks!


Jack June 29, 2010 at 07:53

Thanks Tim! I found the process of writing the review was itself a valuable “review” (!) of the material in the book. 🙂


Mary June 29, 2010 at 07:49

Sounds like an interesting book. I have quite a library of personal development books and I agree that you have to put the information into practice before it will help you. All the knowledge in the world means nothing if you don’t use it. And it sounds like this book tells you how to apply what it teaches. That’s refreshing.

I’ll look for it on my next trip to the bookstore.


Jack June 29, 2010 at 08:07

@Mary I definitely agree – I have found that “owning” the books doesn’t automatically install the knowledge (good), or habits (better) into your head. Who’d have thought? 😉

Some of my favorite and most-read books in the PD and spirituality genre don’t have “exercises” (The Power of Now comes to mind), but I find that the ones that I return to the most are the ones that inspire action and engagement.


Tim Brownson June 29, 2010 at 10:28

Mary, you’ll not find it in any bookstore unless you go to Germany or France! You wont even find it on Amazon, the reason being is that Amazon take 55% of each sale and we have committed to putting 90% of each sale back into printing free copies for good causes.

We could sell the rights into the US tomorrow, but no publisher is then going to allow us to give away 1,000,000 copies!

Go on be part of history and order online, you know you want to ;-)Aand if you don’t think it’s brilliant I’ll give you a full refund without question.


Billy July 1, 2010 at 05:07

Looks like a thoroughly intesting book. I too have quite a collection of books from different angles of personal development, it certainly looks like a good one


Uwe Alschner July 6, 2010 at 01:58

What a great book! I have to admit I was hesitant at first about picking up the book in the first place. Now I know why: Wealth is not high on my list of Toward-Values, but greed is #3 on the list of my Away-values. But fortunately open-mindedness is #2 on my Toward-list. So I realized that I was quick-jumping on the meaning of “Rich” in the book’s title. And how mistaken this initial guess was! A brilliant example of limiting beliefs about “Money”.
Thanks, Tim and John for writing the book!! You have


Jack July 6, 2010 at 08:12

@Uwe – thanks for your comments! Glad the review and the book were valuable for you!


think and grow rich December 2, 2010 at 16:18

As we are all discussing How to be Rich and Happy, “paying it forward.” You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? If not, do a web search for it and you’ll see what I mean.


Jack December 2, 2010 at 16:36

Good idea TAGR. An expanding, diffusing web of generosity and good will is something that most people would support!


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