Charlie Munger’s Less-Than-Optimistic Advice: ‘I Think The Best Road Ahead To Human Happiness Is To Expect Less’

In the realm of wise investors and business moguls, Charlie Munger, the billionaire business partner of Warren Buffett, is a source of valuable advice. His interests span wide, but they all converge on a singular focus: the pursuit of wealth, happiness and the avoidance of making dumb mistakes.

During the 2023 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual meeting, Buffett expressed his desire to be born in the present day, considering it a superior world compared to any before. He acknowledged that modern communication may sometimes make it seem worse than it is.

Nonetheless, he emphasized that, despite its challenges, the world is a remarkable place.

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In response, Munger shared a slightly less optimistic view than Buffett. He stated, “I think the best road ahead to human happiness is to expect less. I think it’s going to get tougher.”

Munger cautioned against an influx of young, brilliant minds into wealth management, deeming it a perilous trend for American society.

“We don’t need as many wealth managers as we have,” he said.

Buffett, adding his perspective, remarked on Munger’s birth year of 1924, to which Munger replied with a chuckle, “Yes, I would hate to go back to that. I like more wealth managers who are merely reflecting the fact that there’s more wealth. But I don’t like everybody going into wealth management. I think the world’s a little crazy now.”

This comes at a time when it’s easier than ever for investors to manage their own wealth. Companies like Aries and Robinhood Markets Inc. allow anyone to be their own money manager and invest in public markets. Aries, despite being a private startup, is also open for anyone to invest in the startup itself.

Together, Buffett and Munger have transformed Berkshire Hathaway into a financial powerhouse worth over $500 billion. They invest in exceptional companies they have no intention of selling, which has reaped immense rewards. Their steadfast trust in enterprises like The Coca-Cola Co. has generated billions in profit over the decades.

For Munger, “old values” such as honor, trust, hard work and frugality are the cornerstones of a fulfilling life. He often mentions the significance of choosing the right spouse as life’s most crucial decision and insists that financial prosperity necessitates living within one’s means. Both partners firmly believe that taking the high road in capitalism yields greater rewards because there is less competition on that path. Over the years, they have emphasized that while the company can afford to lose a lot of money, it cannot afford to lose even a fraction of trust. Reputation is everything.

Munger has also distilled two essential life guidelines. First, he champions lifelong learning as the key to happiness and wealth. He dedicates the majority of his time to reading and contemplation, finding immense satisfaction in it. His goal? To absorb the grand ideas from various academic fields and apply them judiciously to his thinking. He believes that appropriating great ideas is relatively simple, and the real challenge lies in avoiding foolishness. This commitment to lifelong learning has only become more valuable as Munger, at age 99, continues his investment journey.

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