“Tell Me Where I’m Going To Die, So I Won’t Go There” – Munger

November 4, 2012

In almost all of his speeches, Charlie Munger makes a reference to this quote.

At first, I thought it was just a humorous type saying. Though he often says that he doesn’t mean it in jest, that’s the way everyone seems to take it.

But I had a thought yesterday. What if we take that quote seriously?

“Tell me where I’m going to die, so I won’t go there.”

This is classic invert strategy that Charlie loves to talk about. Instead of figuring out what we should do, it’s sometimes easier to avoid things we shouldn’t do to reach our goal.

For example, a few days ago I wrote: how not to make money using the invert strategy.

So if we want to live a long happy healthy life – one approach is to eat healthy, meditate, live with passion, etc.

That’s all fine.

But we can also avoid harmful things oftentimes guaranteed to kill (or ruin lives):

1. Let’s start w/ another Munger classic line. When asked about his life advice: “Don’t do cocaine. Don’t race trains. And avoid all AIDS situations.”

Notice he didn’t say eat vegetables or whatever “to do” advice everyone else will say. He mentions things to avoid as his life advice.

2. Envy, jealousy, etc – another Munger classic to avoid. Munger says out of the seven deadly sins, envy is the only one that’s not fun. Ben Franklin also had the same insight.

3. Heavy drinking, crowded bars, etc: oftentimes leads to altercations, activities we regret, hangovers, wrecked body & mind. It’s better to pay more to go to a nicer bar than hang out at low level bars just for cheaper drinks. Cheaper bars usually have more savages!

4. Strip clubs: just my opinion. I hate strip clubs because they’re expensive, are meant to push all of males buttons & is just seedy. Every item at a strip club is meant for anyone who enters to spend as much money as possible. Coat check. Cover charge. Bottle service. Strippers using their guiles to suck money out of you.

It’s a losing strategy. If you want to see naked girls, have you heard about the INTERNET?? Strip clubs don’t really kill us but it’s slippery slope in my opinion. Most of these clubs are in shady neighborhoods with drunk shady clientele.

5. Casinos: again, it’s a human trap meant to suck all your money out. They’ll tempt us with alcohol, buffets, bright lights, sexy waitresses, hype of winning, etc.

But the house always wins – otherwise they wouldn’t be in business. You can spend your whole life figuring out a trick to beat the system but is that really efficient when there are so many other ways to make money?

People who are habitual gamblers thinking they can win will lose all their money, will be in dire straights and eventually move on to more death-inviting activities: borrowing money from loan sharks, hanging with shady crew, dangerous drugs & alcohol, misery, etc. I’m not a saint, just telling it like how it seems.

6. Bad food: sugar, processed food, starches etc have been proven to make you gain weight, destroy the eyes, cause diabetes, heart disease etc. Hanging out in junkfoodville is a guaranteed path to early death & misery.

7. Driving fast: Reckless driving used to be fun for me when younger but it’s super stressful for the body & mind. Plus it’s gambling with my life: I could die or end up paralyzed or kill someone else!

You can probably think of way more examples than I’m presenting here.

I just wanted to share these while I still had them fresh in my mind – it was kind of a big break thru to realize Munger wasn’t really joking and that this could be a good life philosophy.

Tell me where I’m going to die, so I won’t go there.

Thanks Charlie.