What Does Albert Einstein Think is the Secret to Happiness? Now We Know!
There's something very moving and special about peering into the past, in inviting yourself to imagine a particular moment in time long ago. When the moment involves one of the world's most famous thinkers, well... news out of an auction house in Jerusalem this week makes clear just how special it can be!
It has been announced that two notes hand-written by Albert Einstein just sold for an incredible $1.8 million, at the Winner's Auctions and Exhibitions in Israel. The auction house had apparently not anticipated the fervor that these notes would inspire: the two letters from Einstein had been expected to sell for perhaps $15,000 at the high end. Someone clearly (vastly) underestimated how meaningful it would be to bidders to own this small but intimate slice of history!
Almost exactly 95 years ago, in November 1922, Albert Einstein was traveling from Europe to Japan when he learned that he had won the Nobel Prize in physics, an immense honor that brought immediate celebrity and attention to him along his route. The award apparently inspired the physicist to begin jotting down notes, which he did from his hotel room in Tokyo (the letters that sold are scribbled on hotel stationery). Einstein's musings, at this historical moment, center on happiness and how to find fulfillment in life—subjects quite different from what the man is most known for today.
"What we're doing here is painting the portrait of Einstein — the man, the scientist, his effect on the world — through his writings," said Roni Grosz, the archivist who oversees the Einstein archives. Of the pair of musings on happiness, Grosz said: "This is a stone in the mosaic."
So what did the brilliant Einstein have to say about life, and how did these notes end up where they are today?
According to to the seller of the letters, the letters changed hands when Einstein (aware of his increasing celebrity) received a package delivery and realized that he didn't have a tip to give the messenger. In place of coins, the physicist handed over the notes, and told the messenger that if he was lucky, they would end up being much more valuable than a tip one day. What a story!
Here's what Einstein had to offer for life advice:
"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." (This note sold for $1.56 million.)
"When there's a will, there's a way." (This note sold for $240,000.)
Einstein scribbled his theory of happiness in place of a tip. It just sold for more than $1 million.