I’ve always said that Albert Einstein was a better philosopher than he was a scientist, and given that he was one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, that means his thoughts on life and living were deeply insightful.
In honor of his birthday, here are my top 10 Einstein quotes on life:
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
My mother taught me that everything you need to know about life you can learn in the garden: life and death, what it takes to grow and thrive, how everything is interdependent, that beauty is often in the details. Nature has a wealth of life lessons if you pause long enough to pay attention.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
It might be a little impertinent to quote physics to Einstein but this is the layman’s version of “ a body in motion, stays in motion.” The opposite is also true: a body at rest, stays at rest. When we feel stuck in life, all it takes is one step forward to get some momentum again.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Reality is wholly dependent on how you look at things. Ten minutes can seem like an eternity or feel like they flash by in an instant depending on the circumstances. Our reality is just a reflection of our current perspective. Change your perspective and your reality changes.
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
What we value most highly in life is never tangible. The things that that end up being the most meaningful are not quantifiable – love, connection, contribution.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
That’s a far more elegant way of saying your glass is either half full or half empty. Einstein also said the most important decision you will ever make is whether you live in a hostile or friendly universe. Perspective is everything. What you go looking for, you find.
A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t read Einstein’s musings on life but this quote reminds me of something one of my spiritual teachers, Kushok Lobsang Damchӧe, says all the time. All you need is one bowl, one set of clothes and one roof over your head. Once your basic needs are met, happiness is an inside job that will never be found in material possessions.
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
In mindfulness practice we remind ourselves to bring a beginner’s mind to what we are doing – to look with fresh eyes at the world. In things that are routine and familiar, it’s easy to miss the beauty that is right in front of us.
Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
Most things in life are actually pretty simple. Sometimes though, we confuse easy with simple. Just because something is simple does not mean that it doesn’t take effort or focus or concentration to make it happen. Sometimes things are not simple. Sometimes they are complicated and need a more complex solution. We just don’t have to spend our time making simple things harder than they need to be.
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
That’s because we can’t see the forest for the trees. When we look at something from one perspective, we can only see so far. Creativity requires flexibility in shifting perspectives.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.
History has proved time and again that we think we know and understand only to discover later we were not correct. We once believed the earth was flat and diseases were caused by evil spirits. Then someone with great imagination figured out we were wrong. I’m pretty sure much of what we believe to be true today will be proved wrong by imaginative thinkers at some point in the future. All of us can benefit from thinking beyond what we believe to be true in our own lives so that we can discover new and wonderful things about ourselves and the world.
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What’s your favourite Einstein quote?