Charlie Munger: How conquering envy led to my success

Billionaire Charlie Munger says he’s “conquered” one emotion that can make or break a person’s health, wealth and happiness.

That one emotion, he says, is envy.

“The world is not driven by greed, it’s driven by envy,” the 98 year old told Daily Journal.

“All (people) think about is somebody else having more now and it’s not fair that he should have it and they don’t.”

People have more than ever, but aren’t happy

Munger, who says he’s lived a long and happy life by setting low expectations, points out that America’s standard of living has improved 600% over a short time frame, but there are still a lot of people who are dissatisfied.

“It’s weird for somebody my age because I was in the middle of the Great Depression and the hardship was unbelievable,” he said.

“(However), I was safer walking around Omaha in the evening than I am in my own neighbourhood in Los Angeles after all this great wealth and so forth.

“So the fact that everybody’s five times better off than they used to be, they take it for granted.”

Charlie Munger Envy
Legendary investor Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger: Envy as an age-old problem

Munger says feeling envy is not a new phenomenon.

“I mean, even the old Jews were having trouble with envy,” he said.

“That’s the reason that god came down and told Moses that he couldn’t envy his neighbour’s wife or even his donkey.”

“So envy is built into the nature of things.”

Munger says it’s something he wished he could change about society, but can’t.

“I have no way of doing anything about it. I can’t change the fact that a lot of people are very unhappy and feel very abused after everything’s improved by about 600% because there’s still somebody else who has more,” he said.

“I have conquered envy in my own life. I don’t envy anybody. I don’t give a damn about what somebody else has.

“But other people are going crazy by it.”

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