Our life is indeed the same as it ever was. . . . The same physiological and psychological processes that have been man’s for hundreds of thousands of years still endure. — Carl Jung

100 timeless lines from the book ‘Same as Ever’

History never repeats itself; man always does. — Voltaire

Mary Good Books
13 min readJan 27, 2024


Published in 2023, this book has gained popularity among non-fiction readers. Following his 2020 bestseller, ‘The Psychology of Money,’ author Morgan Housel presents another masterpiece. In this new book, he maintains his classic style of narrating short stories from history to support his ideas. ‘Same as Ever’ aims to impart timeless lessons that endure in a changing world.


“No matter who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, or how much money you make, there are timeless lessons from human behavior that are some of the most important things you can ever learn.” — Morgan Housel

Here are the best 100 powerful quotes I filtered from the book:

1. Viewing events in isolation, without an appreciation of their long roots, helps explain everything from why forecasting is hard to why politics is nasty.

2. Predicting what the world will look like fifty years from now is impossible. But predicting that people will still respond to greed, fear, opportunity, exploitation, risk, uncertainty, tribal affiliations, and social persuasion in the same way is a bet I’d take.

3. Financial advisor Carl Richards says, “Risk is what’s left over after you think you’ve thought of everything.”

4. Look at the big news stories that move the needle — COVID-19, 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Great Depression. Their common trait isn’t necessarily that they were big; it’s that they were surprises, on virtually no one’s radar until they arrived.

5. The biggest risk and the most important news story of the next ten years will be something nobody is talking about today.

6. Think of risk the way the State of California thinks of earthquakes. It knows a major earthquake will happen. But it has no idea when, where, or of what magnitude. Emergency crews are prepared despite no specific forecast.

7. In personal finance, the right amount of savings is when it feels like it’s a little too much. It should feel excessive; it should make you wince a little.

8. The first rule of happiness is low expectations.

9. Montesquieu wrote 275 years ago, “If you only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”

10. Investor Charlie Munger once noted that the world isn’t driven by greed; it’s driven by envy.

11. Everyone does it. Subconsciously or not, everyone looks around and says, “What do other people like me have? What do they do? Because that’s what I should have and do as well.”

12. Money buys happiness in the same way drugs bring pleasure: incredible if done right, dangerous if used to mask a weakness, and disastrous when no amount is enough.

13. But social media today adds a new element, in which everyone in the world can see the lifestyles — often inflated, faked, and airbrushed — of other people. You compare yourself to your peers through a curated highlight reel of their lives, where positives are embellished and negatives are hidden from view.

14. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt says people don’t really communicate on social media so much as they perform for one another.

15. When asked, “You seem extremely happy and content. What’s your secret to living a happy life?” ninety-eight-year-old Charlie Munger replied: The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. If you have unrealistic expectations you’re going to be miserable your whole life. You want to have reasonable expectations and take life’s results, good and bad, as they happen with a certain amount of stoicism.

16. My friend Brent has a related theory about marriage: It only works when both people want to help their spouse while expecting nothing in return. If you both do that, you’re both pleasantly surprised.

17. You think you want progress, both for yourself and for the world. But most of the time that’s not actually what you want. You want to feel a gap between what you expected and what actually happened.

18. People who think about the world in unique ways you like also think about the world in unique ways you won’t like.

19. People love the visionary genius side of Musk, but want it to come without the side that operates in his distorted I-don’t-care-about-yourcustoms version of reality. But I don’t think those two things can be separated.

20. Naval Ravikant once wrote: One day, I realized with all these people I was jealous of, I couldn’t just choose little aspects of their life. I couldn’t say I want his body, I want her money, I want his personality. You have to be that person. Do you want to actually be that person with all of their reactions, their desires, their family, their happiness level, their outlook on life, their self-image? If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100 percent swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.

21. People don’t want accuracy. They want certainty.

22. Physicist Freeman Dyson once explained that what’s often attributed to the supernatural, or magic, or miracles, is actually just basic math.

23. Bad news gets more attention than good news because pessimism is seductive and feels more urgent than optimism.

24. Tetlock once said. “We need to believe we live in a predictable, controllable world, so we turn to authoritative-sounding people who promise to satisfy that need.”

25. When you realize that making people feel better is more appealing than giving people useful figures, you start to see why thinking in probabilities is rare.

26. Distinguishing between unfortunate odds and recklessness is hard when risk has painful consequences. It’s easier to see black and white even when the odds are apparent.

27. Stories are always more powerful than statistics.

28. Not the best idea, or the right idea, or the most rational idea. Just whoever tells a story that catches people’s attention and gets them to nod their heads is the one who tends to be rewarded.

29. Morgan Freeman can narrate a grocery list and bring people to tears, while an inarticulate scientist might cure a disease and go unnoticed.

30. If you have the right answer, you may or may not get ahead. If you have the wrong answer but you’re a good storyteller, you’ll probably get ahead (for a while). If you have the right answer and you’re a good storyteller, you’ll almost certainly get ahead.

31. Mark Twain was perhaps the best storyteller of modern times. When editing his writing, he would read aloud to his wife and kids. When a passage caused them to look bored, he would cut it.

32. Stephen Hawking once noted of his bestselling physics books: “Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales.” Readers don’t want a lecture; they want a memorable story.

33. Ken Burns once said, “The common stories are one plus one equals two. We get it, they make sense. But the good stories are about one plus one equals three.” That’s leverage.

34. The most persuasive stories are about what you want to believe is true, or are an extension of what you’ve experienced firsthand.

35. It’s not what you say or what you do, but how you say it and how you present it.

36. The world is driven by forces that cannot be measured.

37. Some things are immeasurably important. They’re either impossible, or too elusive, to quantify. But they can make all the difference in the world, often because their lack of quantification causes people to discount their relevance or even deny their existence.

38. Some of the most important forces in the world — particularly those regarding people’s personalities and mindsets — are nearly impossible to measure and impossible to predict.

39. You never know how an athlete can perform until you put them in the heat of the moment, with the pressures, risks, and incentives of real-world conditions that can’t be emulated in the laboratory.

40. So much of what happens in the economy is rooted in emotions, which can, at times, be nearly impossible to make sense of.

41. The first step toward accepting that some things don’t compute is realizing that the reason we have innovation and advancement is because we are fortunate to have people in this world whose minds work differently from ours.

42. Author Robert Greene once wrote, “The need for certainty is the greatest disease the mind faces.”

43. A common irony goes like this: • Paranoia leads to success because it keeps you on your toes. • But paranoia is stressful, so you abandon it quickly once you achieve success. • Now you’ve abandoned what made you successful and you begin to decline — which is even more stressful. It happens in business, investing, careers, relationships — all over the place.

44. Carl Jung had a theory called enantiodromia. It’s the idea that an excess of something gives rise to its opposite.

45. After slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, Will Smith turned to Denzel Washington for advice. Washington said, “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”

46. Maybe there’s more potential out there, but it’s fine to say, “You know what, I’m pretty happy with this level of risk and I’m fine just watching this game play out.” Not everyone can do it — and markets on average can never do it — but more of us should try.

47. Warren Buffett once joked that you can’t make a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. You’d be surprised, though, how common it is for people to attempt to speed up a process beyond what it can handle.

48. Most things have a natural size and speed and backfire quickly when you push them beyond that.

49. “A tree that grows quickly rots quickly and therefore never has a chance to grow old,” forester Peter Wohlleben wrote. Haste makes waste.

50. Robert Greene writes: “The greatest impediment to creativity is your impatience, the almost inevitable desire to hurry up the process, express something, and make a splash.”

51. Most great things in life — from love to careers to investing — gain their value from two things: patience and scarcity. Patience to let something grow, and scarcity to admire what it grows into.

52. Stress focuses your attention in ways that good times can’t.

53. A constant truth you see throughout history is that the biggest changes and the most important innovations don’t happen when everyone is happy and things are going well. They tend to occur during, and after, a terrible event.

54. Stress, pain, discomfort, shock, and disgust — for all its tragic downsides, it’s also when the magic happens.

55. The same people with the same intelligence have wildly different potential under different circumstances.

56. “The trauma of the Great Depression did not slow down the American invention machine,” economist Robert Gordon wrote. “If anything, the pace of innovation picked up.”

57. Big, fast changes happen only when they’re forced by necessity. World War II began on horseback in 1939 and ended with nuclear fission in 1945.

58. When everything is great — when wealth is flush, when the outlook is bright, when responsibility is low, and threats appear gone — you get some of the worst, dumbest, least-productive human behavior.

59. Good news comes from compounding, which always takes time, but bad news comes from a loss in confidence or a catastrophic error that can occur in a blink of an eye.

60. The most important things come from compounding. But compounding takes awhile, so it’s easy to ignore.

61. Pearl Harbor and September 11 are probably the two biggest news events of the last hundred years. Both took about an hour to play out, start to finish.

62. A 2010 Yale study showed that one of the leading causes of the increase in obesity is not necessarily people eating larger meals; it’s eating more small snacks throughout the day. It’s a good example of how lots of things work.

63. If you understand the math behind compounding you realize the most important question is not “How can I earn the highest returns?” It’s “What are the best returns I can sustain for the longest period of time?”

64. Progress requires optimism and pessimism to coexist.

65. That idea — the belief that things will get better mixed with the reality that the path between now and then will be a continuous chain of setback, disappointment, surprise, and shock — shows up all over history, in all areas of life.

66. From the day he started Microsoft, Bill Gates insisted on always having enough cash in the bank to keep the company alive for twelve months with no revenue coming in.

67. The trick in any field — from finance to careers to relationships — is being able to survive the short-run problems so you can stick around long enough to enjoy the long-term growth.

68. There is no perfect species, one adapted to everything at all times. The best any species can do is to be good at some things until the things it’s not good at suddenly matter more. And then it dies.

69. A successful person purposely leaving gaps of free time on their schedule to do nothing in particular can feel inefficient. And it is, so not many people do it.

70. If your job is to be creative and think through tough problems, then time spent wandering around a park or aimlessly lounging on a couch might be your most valuable hours. A little inefficiency is wonderful.

71. The irony is that people can get some of their most important work done outside of work, when they’re free to think and ponder.

72. Albert Einstein put it this way: I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.

73. The more precise you try to be, the less time you have to focus on big-picture rules that are probably more important.

74. Everything worth pursuing comes with a little pain. The trick is not minding that it hurts.

75. This is one of the most useful life skills — enduring the pain when necessary rather than assuming there’s a hack, or a shortcut, around it.

76. Charlie Munger once noted: “The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.”

77. A simple rule that’s obvious but easy to ignore is that nothing worth pursuing is free. How could it be otherwise? Everything has a price, and the price is usually proportionate to the potential rewards.

78. And you don’t pay the price with cash. Most things worth pursuing charge their fee in the form of stress, uncertainty, dealing with quirky people, bureaucracy, other peoples’ conflicting incentives, hassle, nonsense, long hours, and constant doubt.

79. A unique skill, an underrated skill, is identifying the optimal amount of hassle and nonsense you should put up with to get ahead while getting along.

80. Competition never stops. A species that gains an advantage over a competitor instantly incentivizes the competitor to improve. It’s an arms race.

81. Dee Hock says, “A book is far more than what the author wrote; it is everything you can imagine and read into it as well.” It’s similar with new technology. The value of every new technology is not just what it can do; it’s what someone else with a totally different skill set and point of view can eventually manipulate it into.

82. The grass is always greener on the side that’s fertilized with bullshit.

83. “All businesses are loosely functioning disasters,” Brent Beshore says. But a business is like an iceberg; only a fraction is visible. It’s the same for people.

84. Warren Buffett’s biography The Snowball revealed that the most-admired person in the investing industry has at times had a miserable family life — partly his own doing, the collateral damage of a life where picking stocks was the highest priority.

85. When you are keenly aware of your own struggles but blind to those of others, it’s easy to assume you’re missing some skill or secret that others have.

86. Everyone’s dealing with problems they don’t advertise, at least until you get to know them well. Keep that in mind and you become more forgiving — of yourself and others.

87. No matter how much information and context you have, nothing is more persuasive than what you desperately want or need to be true.

88. James Clear put it this way: “People follow incentives, not advice.”

89. Nothing is more persuasive than what you’ve experienced firsthand.

90. You can read and study and have empathy. But you often have no clue what you’re willing to do, what you want, and how far you’re willing to go until you’ve seen something with your own eyes.

91. Comedian Trevor Noah once discussed apartheid in his native South Africa, noting: “If you find the right balance between desperation and fear, you can make people do anything.”

92. Jim Carrey once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

93. Saying “I’m in it for the long run” is a bit like standing at the base of Mount Everest, pointing to the top, and saying, “That’s where I’m heading.” Well, that’s nice. Now comes the test.

94. The world changes, which makes changing your mind not just helpful, but crucial.

95. Benjamin Graham said, “The purpose of the margin of safety is to render the forecast unnecessary.” The more flexibility you have, the less you need to know what happens next.

96. Simplicity is the hallmark of truth — we should know better, but complexity continues to have a morbid attraction. When you give an academic audience a lecture that is crystal clear from alpha to omega, your audience feels cheated. . . . The sore truth is that complexity sells better.

97. A trick to learning a complicated topic is realizing how many complex details are cousins of something simple.

98. In finance, spending less than you make, saving the difference, and being patient is perhaps 90 percent of what you need to know to do well. But what’s taught in college? How to price derivatives and calculate net present value.

99. In health it’s sleep eight hours, move a lot, eat real food, but not too much. But what’s popular? Supplements, hacks, and pills.

100. What have you experienced that I haven’t that makes you believe what you do? And would I think about the world like you do if I experienced what you have?

If you loved this take a look at my other article: 100 best lines from The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel