Million dollar theory of happiness

We know him as the genius behind the theory of relativity, 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 seem 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.”

Albert Einstein

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 stationary, saying to keep the notes (there were two actually), as they 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.

One of the two notes by Professor Albert Einstein, Regarding Fitting Way of Life
Photo from

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 or a leader – either way I’ll be working with a group of people and work my way to becoming their lead. But even with that in mind, through the entire span of my career, I didn’t really think I was working to become “successful.” Or become famous, be wealthy. It was more of finding happiness in work or finding satisfaction in what I do, the monetary rewards should follow. The reason why I started out as a teacher (and hopefully someday can return to teaching once I retire from corporate work), the rather underpaid but fulfilling profession. 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 life’s misadventures, the lessons from the ups and downs, and the calmness and modesty after. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out what can make you happy, that I realized (like me, you’re probably all set in your pursuit), still thanks to Einstein’s million dollar theory of happiness.

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