There are two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Often when I finish a non-fiction book, I feel smarter. Not so, after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein. Not that it isn’t well written and well researched. There are detailed scientific explanations and correspondences between physicists translated from German. There is a reason I majored in journalism. I only had to take minimal science and math classes. This book is not for lounging by the pool. It is thought provoking and, at times, tough to digest. Still, there are valuable lessons that even us non-PHD types can learn from the man whose very name is synonymous with genius.
- Visualize Einstein had trouble speaking. He didn’t communicate with words until almost age 2. Throughout his life, it is reported that he would mumble a sentence to himself out loud to make sure it sounded right before speaking directly to another person. Some speculate he had some form of autism. What he lacked in verbal skills, he compensated for in his ability to visualize. Einstein could literally see problems as pictures and than visualize the outcome. Whether it was imagining himself riding a light beam or picturing passengers inside falling elevators, visualization was a major key to unlocking the complex laws of nature.
- Follow Your Own Path As a Jewish Serbian growing up in anti-semetic Germany, he was an outsider. Einstein remained a loner in college. Some of his teachers and professors would call him arrogant or a non-conformist. That perception led to him having trouble getting a job in his field. He couldn’t even land steady work as a high school teacher. A family friend eventually helped him get a entry level position at a patent office. He worked on his experiments on his own, outside of the confines of academia. If he had been more accepted or mainstream, isn’t it likely he would have bent his views to support those of the institutions and mentors he was working under? Whether being an outsider was his choice or not, it allowed him to follow his own path and see the world from his own perspective. How many people have the courage to follow their own path, even when they are ridiculed or called radical?
- Cultivate your Intuition Einstein valued his intuition above all other senses. He would lose himself listening to Mozart or playing his violin. He would set a problem aside and take a break with music. It was during these meditative musical experiences, that he would be struck with the solution and rush back to the drawing board. The physicist, who struggled with math, even solved problems in his sleep. It is said that he would fall asleep holding a rock thinking about a question. When he actually fell into a restful state, his hand would release the rock, wake him up and he would write down what he was seeing in his dream.
- Stay Busy & Balanced In 1905 alone, Einstein devised a quantum theory of light, proved the existence of atoms, changed the concept of space and time, clarified scientific explanations of motion and came up with the simplistic and most famous equation E=MC2. Where did this burst of productivity come from? At the time, Einstein worked six days a week in the patent office, was constantly writing papers to submit for publication and played weekly in a string quartet. He also had a wife and baby at home. Maybe Einstein is the reason for the saying, “busy people always have time.”
- Find Inspiration in Nature Einstein once said “Look deep into nature and than you will understand everything better.” Einstein was a curious child who developed a life long reverence for the simplicity and order in nature. According to Isaacson’s research, Einstein believed that an underlying reality existed in nature even if it could not be seen or measured. He lived life believing everything was a miracle.