Albert Einstein. Getty Images.
When he wasn't busy decoding the mysteries of the universe, German-American physicist and historic mega-smart guy Albert Einstein also dispensed wisdom on more mundane existential topics like human happiness and fulfillment.
Two notes of advice scrawled on paper by the prototypical genius himself are set to go up for auction Tuesday in Jerusalem. According to the anonymous seller, Einstein gave the notes to a courier in Tokyo in 1922 when he was on a speaking tour in Japan.
The story goes that the scientist found himself short of change to tip the messenger and quickly scrawled some literal tips for living instead.
"A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest," Einstein wrote in German on the stationery of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo.
On another, blank piece of paper he wrote, "Where there's a will, there's a way."
"Maybe if you're lucky those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip," the seller, who is a relative of the courier, claims Einstein explained at the time, AFP reports.
Einstein's words presage the message from many a self-help and professional development tome that would follow in the proceeding decades, basically imploring all of us to focus on doing good work, even when it might be hard work, rather than chasing fame, money, and all the other byproducts of work that can ultimately be less satisfying.
It's possible that Einstein was feeling some regret for the path he was on at the time, touring the world as a scientific celebrity. When he wrote the notes, he had been informed that he would receive the Nobel Prize for physics.
Perhaps he was just pining for some peace and quiet in more familiar surroundings rather than a hotel room in distant Tokyo at that moment.
Regardless, the simple wisdom hits home for anyone who has ever found the result of a certain success to be an increase in the chaos and complexity of life.
At those moments, the often overlooked value of simplicity in life is something it doesn't take a genius to understand. But sometimes it helps to have one remind you.