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Understanding Imitation



From Morgan Housel’s - The Psychology of Money

A young lawyer aiming to be a partner at a prestigious law firm might need to maintain an appearance that I, a writer who can work in sweatpants, have no need for. But when his purchases set my own expectations, I’m wandering down a path of potential disappointment because I’m spending the money without the career boost he’s getting.

This is one of the clearest examples I’ve found yet that illustrate not only the futility but immense harm that one can get themselves into by blindly imitating the status quo. Social Media and the ever increasingly personalized advertising systems do their best to make this imitation game even more lucrative.

Morgan Housel uses the example to make aware his readers that simply spending the money like someone else does without clearly understanding the reasons of how it will help them grow might mean you are throwing away that money and in effect a chunk of your life that you have lost in gaining it.


This is a great example to scale up to anything in life. One sees this all the time all around us. Some examples

  • Getting a car without knowing if it benefits you

  • Getting a higher education just coz its a norm

  • Buying an iPhone (or the next expensive gadget) without it adding anything to your growth

  • Working your tails off to afford an expensive home just cause everyone is expected to own their own property

Its easy to get jealous and want the next material thing (be it a degree or a designer suit) and consider it to be needed for your identity. To face that its a vanity project is much harder for the brain.

We are all different people with different goals in life, these comparisons inevitably lead us astray and make us invested into things that are not aligned to the paths we want to walk. Its hard to have a constant reminder to have your goals and your processes as your identities and not the materials which are mere tools that can aid you in your walk. Each time you swipe your card or create a transaction you take a few steps backwards in your path. Meaningfully used money can create a slingshot effect of propelling you much faster ahead, but if it amounts to a big Zero or worse it takes you backward in the path to your goal, what good is it?

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