We know him as the genius behind the theory of relativity and awarded the coveted Nobel prize for physics, but thanks to a handwritten note he left for a bellboy, that fetched US$1.6 million at an auction in Jerusalem in 2017, Albert Einstein seems to have espoused another theory, though short, this time about happiness.
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
It was in 1922, Einstein was staying at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, about the same time he learned about his Nobel Prize win. Having no change to tip the bellboy, he instead wrote down the above quote on a piece of hotel stationery, saying that the note could someday be worth more than a tip. And as the genius predicted, the bellboy’s family must be happy now to have kept that precious piece of writing, now famously referred to as the theory of happiness that’s worth over a million dollars.
It was about the same time I started decluttering when I come across this news about Einstein’s quote and that “a calm and modest life brings more happiness” line was what inspired and got me serious about becoming a minimalist.
When I started working a year after college, I somewhat figured out what I wanted to be – either I become a manager of a growing company or a proprietor of my own business – either way I’ll be working with a group of people and work my way up to becoming their lead. But even with that in mind, with over 25 years of professional experience, I didn’t really think I was working to become “successful.” Or become famous or wealthy. It was more of finding happiness in work or finding satisfaction in what I do, the monetary rewards I thought would just follow. The reason why it would seem I lost track of my career targets when I started out as a teacher, the rather underpaid but fulfilling profession, in my aspiration to give back and be an active contributor to society. Hopefully, someday I can return to teaching once I retire from the corporate world but the many “successes” I achieved so far I owe to people with the same passion and work attitude, and with this, I couldn’t be happier.
I am a work in progress and happy to be experiencing and embracing life’s beautiful misadventures. The lessons from the ups and downs usually point us to living a simple life, to focus on what matters the most. It’s what we make of it – find joy in the simplest of things and you don’t need to be a genius to figure out what can make you happy.