Tag Archives: albert einstein

The Price of Happiness? About $1.8 million

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This is one of those stories about happiness you don’t hear every day. Mostly because it stems from the mind – and hand – of one Albert Einstein.

Rachel Siegel over at The Washington Post penned an article called “Einstein scribbled his theory of happiness in place of a tip. It just sold for more than $1 million,” and sums up the unlikely story of how a tip morphed into millions, and how one of history’s most influential scientists and thinkers imparted some advice we’d all like to know: the theory not of relativity but of happiness. Per the article:

“In November 1922, Einstein was traveling from Europe to Japan for a lecture series…News of Einstein’s arrival spread quickly through Japan, and thousands of people flocked to catch a glimpse of the Nobel laureate. Impressed but also embarrassed by the publicity, Einstein tried to write down his thoughts and feelings from his secluded room at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

That’s when the messenger arrived with a delivery. He either “refused to accept a tip, in line with local practice, or Einstein had no small change available,” according to the AFP.

Instead, Einstein wrote two short notes and handed them to the messenger. If you are lucky, the notes themselves will someday be worth more than some spare change, Einstein said, according to the seller of the letters, a resident of Hamburg, Germany who is reported to be a relative of the messenger.

Those autographed notes, in which Einstein offered his thoughts on how to live a happy and fulfilling life, sold at a Jerusalem auction house Tuesday…”

What was the advice and how much were these thoughts worth in today’s currency?

1. “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” ($1.56 million)

2. “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” ($240,000)

And to think, today with the Internet at our fingertips that advice is free!

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Quote of the Day

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The novel I’m working on right now, The Redemption of Guilt, has a supporting character who is deeply inspired by Albert Einstein. So, apropos of my imaginatively borne character Tariq, I present to you the short, sweet, and simple Quote of the Day:

Imagination is greater than detail.

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Keys to Increasing Creativity

Larry Kim wrote a very direct and useful guide for ways in which to increase your creativity. Essentially, he reminds us that the brain is a muscle. Ergo, treat it like your bis, tris, delts, quads, etc. Work it out on a daily basis and aim to make it stronger by constantly pushing it to its limits.

His piece is directed as much at artists as it is at scientists and business people. You can read the full article here, but I’ll summarize his nine points below.

1. Learn through Collaboration

Talk to and learn from others, especially when you get stuck being innovative and creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also leads to creativity.

2. Do Something You Love

As Einstein once wrote to his son about playing the piano, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

Love and creativity are one and the same.

3. Find Inspiration from Other Industries

Don’t imitate, innovate. Finding that elusive je ne sais quoi can sometimes be found in a completely different field or area of industry.

4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)

Bestselling author Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks) once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

5. Walk

Research shows that walking heightens creativity. Stephen King has long known that (which is also how he got hit by a car and nearly died), but today major business leaders will hold “walking meetings” because they realize the value of this simple yet healthy way to flex that muscle between your ears.

6. Set the Right Mood

Listen to music. Personally, I listen to music when I write, edit, translate, send emails or do anything connected to work.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique

As Larry Kim put it, “Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored ‘thinking hats’.

Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.”

8. Ask For Advice or Feedback

Ditch the insecurity. If you’re insulted or scared to ask for advice or suggestions from peers/friends/colleagues/family members, follow Australian comedian Chopper Reid’s advice and harden the **** up.

9. Pick a Terrible Idea

Larry Kim explains: “Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes. What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.

Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: What are the best features of these terrible ideas?”

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Paying Heed to Einstein, Cloaking Your Daggers

Albert E. once said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” I think about that quote almost every time someone asks me about my fiction. “I can’t believe you went through what you did!” readers will say after finishing A Father’s Son. “Your dad seemed like a really good person at heart. I’m sorry it ended the way it did.”

“Whoa whoa whoa!” I’ll say. “Hold the teletype machine. It’s a work of fiction.”

“Oh,” the person will reply, like this has unlocked some convoluted mystery for them even though it says “A NOVEL” right below the title on the cover of the book. “So is it based on truth?”

I was reminded of this anecdote recently when doing some background research on one of my favourite books, The Count of Monte Cristo. I think it goes without saying that Alexandre Dumas was one of the great writers of the 19th century and is a formidable presence in the Western canon of literature. However, the Count was essentially a retelling of what happened in real life to Pierre Picaud. Today, nobody remembers who this Pierre fellow was, but most people can tell you they’ve heard of Monte Cristo, either as the page-turning story of revenge or as a fried sandwich.

What was Dumas’ secret? Keeping his secret a secret! Journalists do it every day in the name of “exposing the truth.” Artists have been doing it since the beginning of time. The fact of the matter is this: No person is an island. We’re influenced and impacted by the events that unfold around us. The key to genius – at least artistically – is how to shape these events in such a way that makes them relatable and enjoyable and inspiring.

I think I’ll keep that in mind this morning as I return to my current work in progress and write about events and people that aren’t real, but will hopefully come across as completely believable to the reader.

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