One of my first “big boy” books was a biography of Einstein. I think I was about twelve years old when I read the first one. It was about 300 pages long, and I didn’t image I would ever finish it, but it only took me a couple of weeks to do just that. For some reason, the book just clicked with me. I have read several others since then. No, I didn’t think I was going to be the next Einstein, my self-esteem had already taken too severe a beating to even imagine that, but something clicked. Looking back I think it might have been that Einstein was, as he is typically characterized, an Aspie, and I was too, although I didn’t know it at the time. So, when it came to finding out what happiness is all about, it was just natural that I would consult another of my life heroes.
Einstein was a nonconformist in almost everything he did. He definitely lived life outside-the-mainstream For one thing, he never wore socks. For another he figured out that energy and matter were the same thing, just at different speeds. Ok, enough of this meandering, let’s get on to Einstein’s view of happiness.
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”— Albert Einstein
Even though Einstein was a world-famous person, he lived a modest life at Princeton in his final years. What made him happy were the simple pleasures. Money and titles meant nothing. What was important was his violin, sail boat, and his fellow workers.
“I am happy because I want nothing from anyone. I do not care for money. Decorations, titles or distinctions mean nothing to me. I do not crave praise. The only thing that gives me pleasure, apart from my work, my violin and my sailboat, is the appreciation of my fellow workers.”— Albert Einstein
Not only did he not value things that other famous people tried to achieve, he actually felt sorry for them.
“I am sometimes sorry for men like Ford. Everybody who comes to them wants something from them. Such men do not always realize that the adoration which they receive is not a tribute to their personality but to their power or their pocketbook. Great captains of industry and great kings fall into the same error. An invisible wall impedes their vision.”— Albert Einstein
Having a passion for what you do, not the rewards that might come as a result is, according to Einstein, what happiness is all about. I have written several times here on RJsCorner that one of my Aspie traits that I cherish is that I can go hours, and sometimes even days at a time, extremely focused on one of my passions. I wouldn’t trade that ability for anything. I am kind of proud that I share that trait with my hero.
“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. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal.”— Albert Einstein
I need to take these words of Einstein to heart. I have always had a fixation with simplifying my life. Einstein seems to have accomplished that to a degree that I would love to emulate. The new RJsCorner is meant to do just that. I want to focus the rest of my life on things that I am passionate about, and let go of the things that get in the way of my happiness. Thank you, Albert, for helping me along that path.
3 thoughts on “Happiness #5 – According to Einstein”
I’ve always had an affinity towards people who didn’t quite fit into the accepted norms of the time. I think that many of them would lie somewhere on the autism spectrum. Einstein was one, and Richard Pearse, a new Zealand pioneer aviator was another. Sir Edmund Hillary had little respect of authority or of social convention, and while he probably wasn’t on the spectrum, I nevertheless hold him in high regard too.
In the world of fiction, it’s also the quirky characters that I relate to better. From the robot in Lost in Space TV series to Constance in Bones and even Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory although I prefer the childhood version of Sheldon in the TV series Sheldon. I often wonder whether Jane Eyre might have been an autistic woman given some of her personal observations of the society she lived in.
Thanks, Barry, for your perceptive insight. It is generally acknowledged that Einstein was on the spectrum. Others include Robin Williams, Lincoln, Steve Jobs and many others. With so many examples of positivity, I wonder why the vast majority of people still consider it a debilitating, unfixable condition. Can’t we celebrate the successes and still have empathy for those in the very deep end of the spectrum?
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Well it is unfixable 🙂
Just like having blue eyes or brown skin. Those conditions don’t need fixing. Nor does being autistic. We just need recognition as equally valuable members of society.