A Few Things I’m Pretty Sure About

You don’t have to know exactly what the future holds to know that some people will handle it better than others.

Money can bring happiness but it also brings complexity, and complexity can quickly lead to unhappiness.

It’s easy to mistake getting attention for being right or being admired, especially on social media.

The most valuable personal finance asset is not needing to impress anyone.

A bigger problem than price inflation is expectations inflation: A constant increase in what you need to be satisfied.

The strongest-held beliefs are usually on topics with the most uncertainty. No one is as passionate about geometry as they are about religion.

I have no interest in anything that’s not sustainable. The key to success in so many areas of life is endurance and longevity.

The proper financial mindset is to be scared enough to save for the short run and brave enough to invest for the long run.

Projection is one of the most powerful forces, so be careful around those who tell you how honest and trustworthy they are.

Any amount of intelligence can be overridden by: ego, insecurity, immorality, bad incentives, or impatience, usually in that order.

There’s a big difference between how something should work in theory vs. how it actually works in the real world, when technical facts meet human emotions.

People only communicate perhaps 1% of what’s going through their head, so the world is probably 100x crazier and messier than it looks. Related: It is easier to spot other people’s mistakes than your own, because we judge others based solely on their actions, but when judging ourselves we have an internal dialogue that justifies our mistakes and bad decisions.

Everyone hates a spoiled child and knows that child is socially ruined, but they themselves want easy money. Do you see the irony? Money you didn’t earn or work hard for quickly becomes a social liability.

The four most dangerous financial traits are: FOMO, an addiction to the appearance of certainty when none exists, impatience, and laziness.

Most fields have only a few laws. Lots of theories, hunches, observations, ideas, trends, and rules. But laws – things that are always true, all the time – are rare.

Woodrow Wilson said government “is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton.” It’s a useful idea. Everything is accountable to one of the two, and you have to know whether something adapts and changes over time or perpetually stays the same.

Some of my best work was easy to write, and the worst stuff I’ve ever written was agonizing to write. I think it’s similar in most fields. If an idea is good, the work flows easily. Writers’ block – or its equivalent in other jobs – usually means the idea is wrong.

You only know someone well if you can correctly predict how they will react in stressful situations.

It’s common to think that people admire you for your success, but what you might actually be fostering is envy, which will come back to haunt you.

I love Brent Beshore’s observation that, “I am 100% happy to watch you get really rich doing something that I have no interest in doing.” It’s not always a competition.

Not caring about temporary things, and obsessing over permanent things, is underrated.