I settled in for a James Allen classic hoping it would be a quick, simple, and inspirational read.

But as I got into Eight Pillars of Prosperity, I found it to be rather dry, and full of otherwise obvious (but not necessarily helpful) conclusions. There are relatively few if any tips or actionable insights in this book.

I identified a few zingers among all the observational waffle (rarely backed by real-life examples or stories of any substance, by the way), but the principles he espouses don’t seem to withstand lived experience, or the parsing of the inimitable Dan Kennedy. At least not in whole.

This is the same James Allen who wrote As a Man Thinketh, a veritable personal development classic. So, you can see why I may have felt a little cheated here.

But there is one thing I took away from the book that felt deeply resonant with my current experience of life, and that is this:

Develop Your Inner Wealth Before Developing Your Outer Wealth

What rings true about James Allen’s observations in Eight Pillars of Prosperity is primarily this, that there are happy wealthy people, and unhappy wealthy people. All things being equal, you want to be the former.

Things don’t make you happier, because of themselves they contain no joy. Joy can only be contained within a person (that means you).

You cannot find joy in a home, or a car, or a boat. They may give you a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment, but they do not possess joy of themselves and therefore cannot give you joy either.

So, true prosperity begins with self, not with the outer trimmings that most people mistake for success.

You can be happy, joyous, and content in any situation. In Western culture, we sometimes find it inconceivable that people who have access to fewer amenities could be any happier than us. But they often are.

There is a strong argument for the simple life marked by purpose, even if that purpose is to walk two miles to fetch water at a distant well daily.

Joy is available now, and your true inner wealth is your sense of joy.

If you focus on developing your character first, you will not look to riches and wealth to satisfy your misery. When riches and wealth arrive, you will be far more likely to do with them what is productive, fulfilling, and benevolent.

The focus of your life, therefore, should be on developing your character and inner wealth so you can be happy and wealthy.

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