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home : features : people of faith

1/4/2018 9:00:00 AM
New book outlines path to prosperity

Two Catholics from the Albany Diocese are hoping to point young adults toward success with their new book, "Richer Than a Millionaire: A Pathway to True Prosperity."

Drs. William Danko and Rich­ard Van Ness, respectively from St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish in Schenectady and St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park, address head-on the dilemma many young adults face in finding direction for their lives.

Dr. Van Ness is a management and finance professor at Schenectady County Community College and co-author of "Life After Layoff." Dr. Danko is co-author of the New York Times bestseller "The Millionaire Next Door."

With evidence from interviews, surveys and research, the authors answer questions like, "What does it take to be rich?" "How can I be financially secure?" "What does it mean to be successful and prosperous?"

The Evangelist spoke with the pair about "Richer Than A Millionaire."

Q In the book, you focus on helping to guide and inspire young people. Can you pick out one crucial piece of advice you believe is most helpful to them?

A One piece is not enough; we need two. Read Benjamin Franklin's "Way to Wealth" essay, written 250 years ago. Franklin insists that personal initiative is the key to material wealth-building: In other words, never give up in the pursuit; be disciplined.

Statistics and vignettes illustrating the benefit of perseverance are presented throughout our book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of instant gratification with many distractions, [which] makes this hard to do. Consequently, few will achieve vast financial wealth; those who follow this advice are likely to.

There is another important lesson about mortality that must be internalized. Reflect on the parable of the rich fool (Lk 12:16-20), which poses the question, "The things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" We are merely custodians; we are just passing through.

Q You write that true prosperity involves health, happiness and wealth. What if health or wealth is unattainable?

A Ideally, all three should be pursued. We believe that happiness and good health trump financial well-being. Two centuries ago, the English clergyman Charles Caleb Colton eloquently wrote: "It is only when the rich are sick that they fully feel the impotence of wealth." We know of no one who would argue with that. With good health and motivation, everybody has the ability to generate financial wealth.

Many are blessed with good health, but unrelenting temptation to participate in certain excesses may lead some to damage their welfare, in addition to draining financial resources. Those not so blessed with good health are challenged to work hard for maintenance or improvement to their status. Given family, new technologies and, most importantly, help from above through prayer, prosperity is attainable.

Note the dedication of our book to Tony Danko, Bill's brother. Tony was a quadriplegic for over 40 years. Bill and his wife, Connie, were able to keep Tony in private housing so that he could age with some dignity. Obviously, this took a lot of resources that Tony did not have, but Tony knew true prosperity without having financial wealth.

The week before he died, he received the sacrament of reconciliation for the last time. Tony would readily proclaim that he had a good life despite his affliction; he was content.

Tony was not an odd example. Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire historian Tacitus observed, "We see many who are struggling against adversity who are happy, and more although abounding in wealth, who are wretched." How one copes with ill health is critical.

Q How important is faith to achieving true prosperity?

A Using a reliable and valid measure from psychology literature about life satisfaction, we compared characteristics of financially-wealthy individuals who are dissatisfied, versus those who are satisfied. More than 90 percent of millionaires in either group indicated that they belong to a religion.

Tellingly, nearly 90 percent of the satisfied millionaires are at peace with their soul. Less than half (42 percent) of the dissatisfied millionaires said that they were at peace. Approximately the same percentages applied to the near-millionaires surveyed.

What makes the satisfied groups more at peace? Those who are satisfied and at peace with their soul are also more likely to practice the Golden Rule, give more time and money to charity and admit that God is central to their lives.

It appears that the satisfied have internalized the teachings of Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 for a true conversion of the heart.

("Richer Than a Millionaire: A Pathway to True Prosperity" is available from www.amazon.com.)

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 4, 2018
Article comment by: Tino DeMarco

In today's world it is refreshing to read this book as it draws conclusions about health, true wealth, and happiness. Being at peace and realizing that "you can't take it with you" are the critical achievements indeed! Great book!

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