“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury–to me these have always been contemptible. I assume that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.” ~ Albert Einstein …
Albert Einstein was a very brilliant and remarkable man. He could have had all the fame and fortune that he ever desired, but instead, he had chosen to live a much simpler life. The things that Albert placed his values and ideals upon are not the things that society often tells us are the most important. But he had his own narrative in life… and so should we. After all, fame, fortune, and power often breed additional obstacles and unnecessary difficulties in our lives–such as stress, envy, and more expectations. We can, therefore, lessen these stresses and obstacles by keeping our desires for outcomes simple: a nice place to live, food to eat when we are hungry, decent clothes to wear, strong friendships, positive ways to serve others, and so on. Sticking to the simple results in less current that we must fight against in the rivers of life, which can add up to a much more enjoyable and positive life.
The world we live in today, however, is not the most conducive towards leading a simple life. After all, living in “a simple and unassuming manner” often means not doing many of the things that others might expect us to; and rejecting the expectations of our friends, peers, and our culture is far from easy. Doing so tends to lead to the stress of feeling that we are disappointing others, or leaves us isolated and feeling alone as we find it harder to “fit in” to the manner of life others are leading.
But what should the focus of our lives be? Wealth, power, or fame… or happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and joy? And if it is the latter, should we not then be seeking to be successful by becoming happy rather than by becoming wealthy or powerful? And gauge our success in life by the count of those we have helped, or by the amount of things that we have shared with others, rather than by what we have gained and received?
Albert uses very strong language by using the word “contemptible.” Could he really have had feelings of disgust for such things that cloud the simplicity in life? Perhaps he was simply trying to elicit strong feelings from us towards the importance of a living simple life. After all, there is nothing inherently wrong with success or material gain. Yet when they begin to rob us of our ability to be satisfied with simplicity, and keep us at an uncomfortable distance from our happiness and contentment, they then have become harmful to our health and well-being.
Keep life simple today–nothing fancy, expensive, or over the top.
Questions to consider:
What do you consider to be a “simple and unassuming manner of life?”
In what ways might you reinforce your own ability to find satisfaction in the simple things of life?
Why do you think Albert Einstein might have found such things as possessions and luxury to be contemptible?
For further thought:
“Most people see success as being rich and famous or powerful and influential. Others see it as being at the top of their profession and standing out from the rest. The wise see success in a more personal way; they see it as achieving the goals they have set for themselves, and then feeling pride and satisfaction in their accomplishments. True success is felt in the heart, not measured by money and power.
So be true to yourself and achieve those goals you set. For success is reaching those goals and feeling proud of what you have accomplished.” ~ Tim Tweedie