A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.
~ Albert Einstein ~
What appears to be a simple quote about a lifestyle is really a complex equation. A lot has changed in our society since this theory of happiness was written by Albert Einstein on a sheet of hotel stationery and given to a Bell Boy instead of a tip. But at the same time much remains unchanged. Our society as a general rule measures success by your job title; how much you earn each year; how you invest your money; your education and what school you attended; the size and location of your home(s); the car one chooses to drive; the brand of your clothing; and the list goes on. We all know that money cannot buy happiness but many try anyway. Our society as a rule views a modest lifestyle as someone who has less than the definition of success.
As I thought about this theory of happiness and compared the calm and modest life in relation to a successful and restless life, I concluded that it is about one’s choices rather than one’s social standing. A calm and modest life is about living within your means which is the foundation to any good financial plan. We can choose to spend more money than we earn but we become a slave to the debt. This debt in turn creates restlessness. The object of our desire looses it luster faster than most will admit.
Writing these thoughts reminded me of two one dollar bills that I’ve had for at least 36 years. They look far different from the U.S. currency in circulation today. It is this very difference that caught my eye while working retail in college. The manager let me exchange these Silver Certificates for a Federal Reserve Note of equal value. The price of silver is $11 more in all that time but the Silver Certificate is still worth one dollar (the collector price is a buck fifty). If I had invested two dollars in stocks with the right company, it would have been a better investment than sitting in a box on a shelf. But it is not the value of the Silver Certificate that has meaning. It is a reminder of a time in my life that I was working and attending college to get me to where I am today.
Success to me is a measure of one’s happiness in their job, how they live their life, and how they treat people no matter their status. According to Einstein’s theory, I have succeeded in being happy in a calm and modest lifestyle.