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'The first rule of a happy life,’ according to 97-year-old Charlie Munger

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor
·2-min read
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What makes for a happy life?

Well-managed expectations, according to Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.

“A happy life is very simple,” the 97-year-old Munger said during the Annual Meeting of Shareholders of the Daily Journal Corporation (DJCO). “The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. That’s one you can easily arrange. And if you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life."

Munger, who is the chairman of the Daily Journal's board, added that "I was good at having low expectations and that helped me. And also, when you [experience] reversals, if you just suck it in and cope, that helps if you don't just stew yourself into a lot of misery."

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Munger’s close colleague, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, previously expressed a similar sentiment during the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting when he noted that " the American magic has always prevailed, and it will do so again.”

'Do it right the first time'

Munger noted that living his life much differently probably wouldn't have changed his longevity much.

“I think I’m alive because of a lucky genetic accident,” Munger said. “I don’t think I can teach you how to retroactively get a new accident yourself. ... I don’t have any secrets. I think I would have lived a long time if I had lived in a different life.”

Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation Charlie Munger speaks to Reuters during an interview in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2013.  REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom   (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS PROFILE)
Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation Charlie Munger speaks to Reuters during an interview in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2013. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS PROFILE)

Munger noted that the culture of Berkshire Hathaway was heavily influenced by Rose Blumkin, the founder of Nebraska Furniture Mart who sold her business to Berkshire Hathaway.

“You know what her mottos were?” Munger said. “'Always tell the truth' and 'Never lie to anybody about anything.' Those are pretty good rules, and they’re pretty simple. A lot of the good rules of life are like that. They’re just very simple. 'Do it right the first time.' That’s a really good rule.”

Adriana is a reporter and editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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