Everyone knows Albert Einstein as the most influential scientist of the twentieth century.
But beyond his contributions to fields of physics and quantum mechanics, his philosophy and wisdom has been a source of inspiration for people across the globe through the years.
So if you’re open to learning from the man who changed how we look at the world, here are the 10 lessons from Albert Einstein that can change your perspective in life.
1) Imagination, intuition, and inspiration are more powerful than knowledge
“Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
To hear Einstein place imagination, intuition, and inspiration on a pedestal is quite surprising since scientists are expected to value knowledge above all.
Einstein was always different from most of his peers and believed that without imagination, he would not have achieved anything of true value.
As much as he valued hard work and rational thinking, he also saw it as far too limited without imagination that sees into possibilities and futures.
His scientific work was only possible because he nurtured the artist in him, and guarded his creativity, followed his intuitions, and filled his daily life with inspiration that fueled his work.
For Einstein, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
2) Genuine curiosity trumps talent and intelligence
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
While history regards Einstein as a genius, he saw himself as average in terms of talent. He placed utmost value on curiosity and persistence as the source of everything he has achieved in his life.
He believed in the utmost importance of never seizing to ask questions and nurtured his curiosity with the diligent care and stimulation of a variety of interests, being in nature, and studying music and the arts.
It was important for Einstein to keep a child-like mind never ceasing to be amazed with all the wonders surrounding us especially as we gain experience and age.
“People like you and me never grow old. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”
3) Delight in solitude
“Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.”
As a child, he suffered from what is now known as the “Einstein syndrome” which describes children who are delayed in speech but are simultaneously gifted and advanced in other areas.
From his youth, Einstein experienced first-hand the pain of isolation, but as he grew in maturity, he came to enjoy the pleasures of solitude.
While most people define success and fulfillment as always being surrounded by a lot of people, Einstein placed immense value on solitude and silence for its power to stimulate his creative mind.
And while he was often alone, he didn’t feel lonely as he felt a deep connection to all people, regardless of race, all living things, and the cosmos.
“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.”
4) Honor what makes you unique and extraordinary
“I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings.”
Einstein believed in nurturing the differences that make each person unique, not in standardizing human beings as if they were machines.
This means questioning social norms and avoiding conformity because even though it means life won’t always be easy, we will gain the gifts of being truly ourselves and offering it to the world, as he did.
For Einstein, honoring our unique way of being is the essence of greatness and gives us comfort with the words, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
5) See mistakes as a path to learning
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
While most people spend their lives doing their best to avoid making mistakes, Einstein saw mistakes as part of the trailblazer’s path to learning.
From errors and miscalculations to his regretful influence on the creation of the nuclear bomb, Einstein’s life was filled with mistakes that represented stepping stones to progress.
Einstein embraced with full acceptance of his humanity and imperfections.
So, instead of allowing his mistakes and the opinions of other people to put him down, he kept on learning from it and moving onto the next idea in pursuit of knowledge.
6) Accept limitations
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
While this sounds like a paradox and contrary to the popular self-help tip of having no limits, Einstein firmly believed in the self-awareness to fully understand our limitations in all aspects— may it be physical, mental, psychological or emotional.
Without accepting our limits, we end up getting burnt out and exhausted, or just unhappy and frustrated. Whereas, living a balanced life that honors our own need to be replenished ensures our sustainability.
This is how Einstein had the energy to work until old age and was even known to have taken a draft of a speech to the hospital right before he passed away at the age of 76.
So when you notice your limitations, get to know them, respect them, and accept them. For only then can you move forward to achieve the life of your dreams.
7) Pause and experience awe
“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
Paul Persal defined awe as the overwhelming and bewildering sense of connection with a startling universe that is usually far beyond the narrow band of our consciousness.
We experience this level of consciousness in the midst of nature, or while experiencing great music, great art, or even meeting a great person.
For Einstein, the capacity to remain unjaded by life no matter what we go through and to still experience all the multi-layered feelings embedded in awe keeps our minds open and primed for expansion.
8) Choose a life of service
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”
Einstein’s life of astounding discoveries was motivated not by personal success, but by a concept of being of service to the world.
So though he won the Nobel prize early in life, he chose not to rest on his laurels not because he was motivated by greed for more fame, power, or money. It’s because he saw his work as a way to help others—as his contribution to the world.
As much as Einstein knew how to live well and pleasurably, he saw service as the ideal and said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
9) Spend time in nature
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Einstein pondered theories while in nature, either sailing solo or in his previous home by the lakeside.
He also favored long walks in nature, often in deep conversation with a friend or two.
Though many looked to him as the one with all the answers, Einstein turned to nature in all the moments he was confused and needed space to think through perplexing problems.
In nature, he could silence his mind. In its vast expanse, he could see that the problems he saw as too big, were just small in the face of it all.
10) Free your mind
“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Einstein believed in a free mind about all else because he believed that without it, there will be no progress nor any inspired thought.
And while he had a deep belief in the worth of each individual, he also believed in connection with all living creatures and the world.
He saw separation from other people outside our immediate circles as an illusion and he did his best to expand his sphere of concern.
For Einstein, “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.”
There is a wealth of wisdom from studying the lives of people who managed to overcome life’s obstacles.
While we may not have full control of what will happen to us in this unpredictable world, if we can take a step back and change our perspective, we may learn to appreciate its gifts and lessons far better.
So if you’re looking to improve your outlook in life, be inspired to change your perspective with these 10 lessons from Albert Einstein.
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