Same As Ever by Morgan Housel (Summary)

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When it comes to predicting the future, it’s much better to focus on what’s not going to change instead of putting all our energy into thinking about what new things will come up.

Doing so saves a lot of time, as we don’t have to just run after the trends.
This helps us make better decisions in life.

Talking about change, newer technology will keep coming in the future, but one thing that will never change is how humans behave.

If we look at human behavior, although it seems like we have changed a lot on the surface, our tendencies have hardly changed.

People still want more status, power, wealth, a better lifestyle, and better health.
And they still play goofy games to acquire these things.

Unhappy people will always exist and drain the energy of everyone around them.
There will always be problem-creators. And there will always be people who will exploit those opportunities to become wealthy.

Greed, lust, vengeance, etc. will keep corrupting people.

People will still be looking for more fancy stuff to satisfy themselves.

Humans will keep spending their lives in confusion and be clueless about their tendencies to create chaos in the world.

You know, things like that will never change.

When you know what won’t change in the future, it’s much easier to build an image of how the future will look.

In this book summary, we will understand some timeless wisdom that will help us think more clearly and predict the future more accurately.

Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Lesson #1: Humanity doesn’t know where it is going, and the future is hanging on by the thread.

We have seen family trees, right?

Our grandparents gave birth to our parents and their siblings, and our parents gave birth to us and our siblings. The siblings of our parents also gave birth to more children. And in the future, our children will give birth to even more children.

In short, the family tree keeps getting more diverse with time and keeps on expanding like the roots of a tree.

Now transfer this same concept to the events.

Every small or big event today will contribute to an event in the future.

Here is the interesting part: We don’t know which even will contribute to a bigger event.

Anything small today can become something big.

This applies to all aspects of our lives. It’s not just for business people.

For example, a small talk with a person today could result in you marrying that person in the future.

Another example: a 10-minute small session of solitude today could result in you teaching meditation to thousands of people.

Anything could happen in the future.

A very small thing could unfold itself in unpredictable ways.

Every moment in the present is connected to the future.

So we can say that the future is hanging on by the thread. The thread is so thin that a small action today can change the shape of the future.

Combine this with the fact that nobody knows where they are going in the future, and you will be surprised to know how uncertain and thrilling life is.

Humans are bad at predicting the future.

It’s very difficult to predict what will happen after 50 years.

We are not very efficient machines.

We sometimes even surprise ourselves, don’t we?

So we should all try to embrace the uncertainty while predicting the future and keep our imaginations as wide as possible.

“Always be ready for the surprises,” says the author.

Lesson #2: So much of your happiness depends on how much you understand your expectations and how efficiently you manage them.

One of the things that hasn’t changed much over the years is that people still want more happiness. Nobody is satisfied with how happy they are.

We look at other people and think their lives are much better than ours.

We compare our happiness with that of other people, and as a result, regardless of how good we are doing in our lives, we become less happy.

Then we think that if we increase our income and buy a bigger house or car, maybe we won’t feel the need to become happier.

We tend to show this behavior because of our expectations.

The more we expect from ourselves, the more we delay our happiness and become unsatisfied with our current reality.

Our expectations often come after seeing other people.

Most people are earning enough money, but they are unhappy because their friends are making more money than them.

Most people don’t know how much money they need to be happy.

It’s all relative.

We want certain things because they look better with other people.

Other people seem to enjoy certain things, so we assume that if we achieve those same things, we will also be happy like them.

The problem?

Just because other people around you look happy doesn’t mean they are happy.

And by not knowing the true reality and believing all the fake reality shown by other people, we tend to destroy our happiness by thinking that our life isn’t as good as it should be.

Envy is one of the main reasons behind the unhappiness.

We want things other people have without any self-inquiry or actually thinking whether we need them or not.

We have been taught that our value is based on the things we have. This is not true.

When you base your self-worth on your material possessions, you are destined to become unhappy eventually.

Because this pursuit will drain your energy.

This doesn’t mean that you should never have material possessions. Just understand that you don’t need to blindly chase them just because they look promising.

There are many things beyond material possessions that hold more value.

For example, things like your health, your values, your freedom, your relationships, etc. are far more important than your fancy car or vacation.

When we keep our expectations in check, we become more happy. Yes, it’s a paradox.

When you expect less, your mind becomes free of expectations. This makes space for more happiness.

Also, just because something costs more doesn’t mean it will give you more happiness.

The reason we feel more happy after acquiring expensive items is because we attach a higher value to them in our minds.

But once you see the truth, it’s easy to realize that those things are not special because they are expensive; they are special because you think they are special. It’s the other way around.

Try living with fewer expectations, and you will be surprised to know that the universe is very rewarding to those who don’t want too much from others.

A lot of people ignore this and don’t try to understand their expectations. They lack self-awareness. As a result, they keep raising unrealistic expectations.

Yes, wealth is important; nobody is asking you to be broke. But being self-aware is even more important. Without it, you can’t even make good financial decisions.

Whenever you feel like you want something, check whether your desire is reasonable or not.

If it’s not, then be stoic and do something else.

Try not to invent silly reasons to want something when, logically, it doesn’t make any sense.

Lesson #3: You can be a genius and still be called a mad man at the same time.

Not everybody is a genius.

And therefore, it’s difficult for common people to understand how a genius mind works.

The problem is that most people expect genius people to behave according to their standards.

Isn’t it ironic?

If a person has a unique genius mind, why would they act the same as other people?

Wouldn’t it dissolve the uniqueness of that genius mind?

Genius people therefore sometimes look stupid to many people, well, obviously, until they succeed.

The author talks about how Newton was one of the smartest humans to ever live, but surprisingly, he was trying to find a magic potion for eternal life. Much of his work was devoted to alchemy and sorcery.

Magic sounds unscientific, doesn’t it?

Nobody would ever expect something like that from a physicist.

And this only proves the point that it’s difficult to predict a genius if you are not a genius yourself.

To become a genius, you have to be liberal enough to do things that don’t fulfill other people’s expectations. You have to stop caring too much about other people’s opinions.

You can’t find something “new” if you are too attached to the “old.”

Lesson #4: Stories are more powerful than statistics.

Ever thought about why people who are less talented but good storytellers are often more successful compared to those who are more talented but bad storytellers?

It doesn’t make any sense, right?

More talented ones should be more popular. However, reality is very interesting and quite different from our expectations and common sense.

Stories are not factual. They are filled with biases.

On the other side, statistics are technical, scientific data. They are a more accurate representation of reality.

So why is it that stories always win compared to statistics?

Here is the thing:

People are not machines. They don’t operate on cold logic.

Yes, although the human body is very much like a machine, it also has a mind, which is highly emotional.

There are many influencers today who are not experts in their fields, but since they are good marketers, they can sell bad products to their audience and make even more money than the real experts.

It may sound unfair, but it is what it is.

People are more likely to get convinced when they are sold lies through stories.

On the other hand, you can be highly logical and still fail to convince people to buy a product.

The reason is very clear: Most people base their decisions on how they feel in the moment.

If something feels good, we assume it will be good for us.

That’s a classic example of how our biology sometimes works against us.

It’s not uncommon to see young kids these days giving life advice to 40-year-old adults. Those kids are just good storytellers. They know how to market and sell their ideas correctly.

Most people today are bored and very impatient. Thus, they can’t focus and read statistics.

Statistics are boring and demand a lot of mental effort, which is something we all want to avoid.

Nobody really cares about knowing the truth when it’s so easy to believe comforting lies.

Again, this is something that will never change.

The best stories will always win.

The best-marketed products will always gain more attention. Even after five hundred years, people will still fall victim to scams and buy products they don’t need.

You can use storytelling to communicate more effectively.

If you want to explain a complex topic to someone, you can use the power of storytelling to make your life easier.

Lesson #5: Hardships teach us focus and concentration.

Another thing that will probably never change is that once in a while, you will face bad times.

When we are having good times, we assume that things will never change and expect that life will be good.

But it never happens.

When you get used to good times, you get complacent, which makes you weaker.

And sooner or later, your life starts throwing problems at you, and suddenly you find yourself having a hard time.

Even if you are preparing for hardships, they will come right at you from time to time.

It’s the truth.

Humanity faced lots of hardships in the past, and it helped humanity grow.

When you are facing problems, your focus is through the roof. You put all your energy in one area.

And when you are not having problems, you start feeling bored and get complacent. Nothing good comes from it.

The author says that stress focuses your attention in ways that good times can’t.

It doesn’t matter how much we grow our lifestyle; stress and problems will always be there, as they are a part of life.

There would be no inventions if people didn’t have a burning desire to fix certain problems.

Whenever something terrible happens in our lives, we reevaluate our thoughts and behaviors.

And this is where the magic happens.

We start thinking in ways we didn’t before.

All your struggles are a blessing in disguise. They are only helping you become a better version of yourself.

The irony is that humans don’t appreciate hardships. They wish there were no problems. But when there are no problems, they still search for something to fix.

The human mind doesn’t like to sit idle. It’s always doing some kind of activity and wasting energy.

Thanks to hardships, when they come, the mind stops wasting its energy.

It’s surprising how the mind works against itself.

Lesson #6: Grass always looks greener on the other side, but in reality, it isn’t as green as you think it is.

People always like to sell their strengths, but at the same time, they are hiding all of their flaws.

This gives us the illusion that they are doing better than us.

And we get insecure ourselves.

The truth is that other people aren’t happier than you.

Even successful people have their fair share of challenges they deal with every day. We just don’t see their daily lives. We think they are perfect because we only see a well-marketed image of them.

They are just as human as you.

They may have access to more resources, but this doesn’t mean that their entire day is full of rainbows and sunshine.

For example, many successful people you see often have terrible relationships. You don’t see when they are having issues with their spouses. It doesn’t get broadcast on social media.

You don’t see when they have acidity, hypertension, or any other health issue. People are good at hiding problems that make them look weak.

This phenomenon of thinking that grass is greener on the other side doesn’t only apply to people; it applies to nations too.

For instance, every nation believes that another nation is doing better than them.

Or every company believes that the other company is making more profits with a better strategy.

Well, when you check the reality, it’s often different from our expectations.

Every company does well in some areas while suffering in others.

Every person has some strengths and some weaknesses.

There are some good things on the other side, but there are bad things too.

Not every grass is greener there. There are terrible ones hiding in there.

You know, there is a famous phrase that “not all that glitters is gold.” It’s true.

If something looks too perfect, realize that it’s just being marketed well by some smart dude you don’t know yet.

It’s amusing how big adults play games like children and try to act strong when inside they are all scared and insecure.

Just take the example of Instagram. Everybody is using filters to appear more beautiful than they already are. Everybody is trying to chase ideal standards.

People are way too obsessed with how they look instead of understanding who they are.

Perfection is a myth. Believe in it, and you will never feel satisfied because you will be chasing an ideal that doesn’t exist.

Lesson #7: Just because something is hard to achieve doesn’t mean that it’s worth achieving.

If you play video games, you must know how most modern games provide you with options to choose your preferred difficulty level.

If you don’t play games often, you can choose an easy mode. And if you are a pro, you can choose a harder difficulty mode.

Logically, if you play that game in easy mode, it’ll take less time to finish.

But we, being humans, are never satisfied. We want that intellectual stimulation.

If we finish a game easily, it doesn’t give us enough pleasure. There is no feeling of conquering something.

But when you complete the game in the hardest difficulty mode, you say to yourself, “Yes, I did it. I’m a champion. It was hard, but I managed to overcome all the challenges.”

Even when the main storyline of the game is complete, some gamers still chase that 100% completion rate by doing all those side missions that don’t matter much.

In short, we enjoy challenges but never admit this fact directly.

For example, you must have seen how we are attracted to people who are mysterious.

This is the exact same reason why women like bad boys. They think that they can fix them somehow.

The harder something is to do, the more it gives us a sense of progress.

In reality, we might not be doing much. But just because it gives us the illusion of progress, we keep pursuing it.

This is also why we experience action bias. We prefer to take action, even when it is not necessary. Because then we can tell ourselves that we tried our best.

We forget that there is no noble prize provided for difficulty level. You get rewards when you complete a task, regardless of its difficulty level.

The point is: Be aware of your tendency to search for intellectual stimulation.

Always pay attention to your mind and ask, “Am I doing this just to get some thrill or sense of achievement?”

If the answer is yes, and what you are doing isn’t really meaningful, do something else.

You are not going to get anything by doing something that is hard but meaningless.

If it’s meaningful to do something and it’s hard to do, which means that not many people are able to do it, then the difficulty will make your achievement look even bigger.

Shami Manohar


The Brain Behind Wizbuskout.com

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

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