20th century genius Albert Einstein had many theories beyond relativity, including one he scribbled down about happiness, which was sold at an auction in Jerusalem, Israel, on Tuesday for $1.3 million, the Associated Press reports.
It reads: “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
The theoretical physicist reportedly wrote the note in 1922 while traveling in Tokyo, Japan, around the time he’d learned he was to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. He did not have cash to tip a bellboy and gave him the note instead, telling him that, because of his fame, it “will probably be worth more than a regular tip.”
He wasn’t wrong.
The bidding began at $2,000 and quickly escalated before reaching its final sum 25 minutes later, said Gal Weiner, the CEO of the auction house. He did not identify the buyer or the seller.
Einstein’s note warns of the dangers of obsessing over success and suggests that a simple outlook on life can lead to a higher sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Emma Seppälä, Stanford psychologist and faculty director of the women’s leadership program at the Yale School of Management, tells CNBC Make It that Einstein’s career is a testament to this point.
When he was a child, she said, the future Nobel Prize winner was “so slow in learning to speak and write that his family thought he might be mentally handicapped.” Later in life, he wasn’t accepted to Zurich Polytechnic School, and, after he graduated from Swiss Federal Polytechnic, he struggled again, this time to land a teaching job.
He overcame adversity throughout his life, and he did so largely via hard work, because “he knew it was a question of time and effort,” Seppälä says.
“Failure is success in progress,” he was quoted as saying.
text JONATHAN BLUMBERG