8 Secrets to Living a Good Life [Charlie Munger]

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Poor Charlie's Almanack" by Charles T. Munger. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the secrets to living a good life? What are the possible obstacles to your happiness?

The secrets to living a good life include surrounding yourself with friends and family, avoiding self-pity, hard work, and being around people you admire. Envy, lack of ambition, and drug addiction are all factors that can prevent you from living a good life.

Read on to discover more about the secrets of living a good life.

To Start Living a Good Life:

  • Have low expectations and a good sense of humor
  • Surround yourself with the love of friends and family.
  • Figure out the lifestyle that you want most. You might indeed work eighty hours a week for fifteen years to make partner at a law firm, just to get the right to do more of the same. But if you don’t, this might not be the right life for you.
  • To get what you want, try to deserve what you want.
  • Avoid self-pity. It’s counterproductive and doesn’t change your situation. If you don’t feel self-pity, you’ll have an advantage over many people, since it’s a common response. Munger had a friend who carried a stack of business cards, and when he heard a self-pitying comment, he’d give the person a card; the card read, “Your story has touched my heart. Never have I heard of anyone with as many misfortunes as you.”
  • Be around people you admire. Don’t work under someone you don’t want to be like.
  • Work hard. Munger likes the word “assiduity” because it informally means, “Sit down on your ass until you do it.”
  • Anticipate trouble. You’ll better know how to avoid it.

How to Live Miserably

Munger also suggests inverting the secrets to living a good life. Think first about how to live miserably, then avoid doing that.

  • Ingest chemicals that alter your mood or perception to feel better.
  • Envy other people for what they have.
  • Resent people and hold grudges.
  • Be unreliable so no one depends on you.
  • Don’t learn from other people’s mistakes. Make every mistake yourself the first time.
  • Be as non-educated as you possibly can. Have zero curiosity to learn and improve.
  • When you get into a real battle in life, give up at the first opportunity.
Charlie Munger’s 8 Secrets to Living a Good Life

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Charles T. Munger's "Poor Charlie's Almanack" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Poor Charlie's Almanack summary:

  • A collection of Charlie Munger’s best advice given over 30 years
  • Why you need to know what you’re good at and what you’re bad at to make decisions
  • Descriptions of the 25 psychological biases that distort how you see the world

Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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