I am no Einstein!
We have been accused of many things, some comical and some not-so-funny. But we have never been accused of having an IQ as high as Albert Einstein (Actually, Albert Einstein likely never took an IQ test but is estimated to have a 160 IQ).
Albert was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later, the family moved to Munich. By best accounts, his childhood was challenging, as his father passed away, leaving Albert to care for his mother and sister.
“When I was young, all I wanted and expected from life was to sit quietly in some corner doing my work without the public paying attention to me,” Albert's hand penned late in his life.
It is common knowledge, and Mr. Einstein appreciated a good buzz. According to web research, he consumed quite a bit of weed and dabbled in hallucinogens and Dimethyl-tryptamine, a drug also known as DMT, which was found in his system during his autopsy.
In this post, celebrating the anniversary of his birth, we take a look at some of Alberts’s more famous quotes and take a stab at how they applied to sobriety.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results - Albert Einstein
We don’t know that Albert Einstein uttered these words as we weren't in the room to be first-hand witnesses. We couldn't, however, find any conflicting claim of authorship, so we'll roll with old Albert.
This quote gets thrown around the room whenever the word insanity is brought up, and since that word can be found in the second step of 12-step recovery, this selection gets much mileage.
We connect to this line as for the years preceding our moment of truth (our enough-is-enough tick), we lived life as though we were in the movie Groundhog Day - We kept contemplating quitting drinking as we drove to the liquor store. We continued to drink, thinking that somehow our life would get better based on our consumption - we were, so we thought, more creative, funnier, and better looking when we drank - don't you know.
Insanity doesn't necessarily stop the day one stops indulging in drugs or drinking. Insane behavior can continue if one does not identify its dangerous or negative consequences. Sober or drunk, insanity is insanity. The bottom line here is that Albert is telling us that we need to do something different if we want something different.
What will you do differently today?
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” - Albert Einstein
Who says you can't be funny and intelligent at the same time? Kudos to Albert for taking a shot at human stupidity. The definition of infinite is; “endless or impossible to measure or calculate.
Remember as you laugh at the rest of humanity that you belong to that club. Stupidity is not exclusive to the other guy. We possess it ourselves.
If Albert was in AA, he might suggest that we focus on our expectations of the people we interact with daily. He might tell us that this quote reminds us to accept and forgive the humans we interconnect with - endlessly. He might also suggest that we don't be so hard on ourselves for those times that we do something stupid since we are not the universe; we are left with our humanness.
Will you forgive yourself today for being human?
“I believe in one thing—that only a life lived for others is worth living.”- Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1955—soon after a blood vessel burst near his heart.
Einstein refused when asked if he wanted to undergo surgery, saying, "I want to go when I want to go. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly."
After an autopsy, Einstein's body was cremated, and his ashes spread in an undisclosed location. The world mourned Einstein's death. At his request, his office and house were not turned into monuments.
By this quote, Albert believed in the principle of unselfishness.
The fact that he was married three times and was known to court concurrently with his marriages might paint a particular story in your mind. But we love this quote because it's genuine and talks to the spirit of Alcoholics Anonymous - There is nothing better been living our lives for those we serve—no greater reward.
Will you love on today?
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” - Albert Einstein
This is a lesson we learned late in life. Our drinking days brought grandiose thoughts of success and a specific legacy-vision ripe with selfishness and ego.
Today we define success through such a different set of lenses. Value needs to be manufactured by one individual positive actions and interactions. Value is a byproduct of authentic and purposeful activity.
Value seldom delivers praise.
According to historians: “Even with his physics teaching diploma, Einstein could not find work in academia and was thwarted by his initial efforts to attain higher education — a doctoral degree — which would have helped him in job hunting. Instead, he took a position as a clerk at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property patent office in Bern, Germany, in 1903 — two years before introducing his Special Theory of Relativity.”
On paper, Einstein, in his early life, was a bust. His legacy was ultimately delivered on the back of the quality he produced.
What will you look to deliver today?
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” - Albert Einstein
We could go on and on with Einstein’s “greatest hits,” but we will dissect this one and get back to living our purpose.
Albert busts down four pillars to be aware of as we take each step in this new life of sobriety:
First, we are reminded that we need to remember and learn from that part of our journey that brought us to where we are today. We can't truly know and appreciate the joys of today if we don't remember the pains of yesterday. We don't park on the problems of the past nor revisit them ad nauseam. We glance back as a spirit-lifter, which helps shape our grateful hearts.
Secondly, we are only promised today. We can't change that past and thinking about tomorrow leaves us losing today’s experience. If you stop and deeply observe, the moments delivered today are priceless. The little things magnify if focused on. We have a choice in living with a favorable or unfavorable view today.
Though we look over at the past and focus on the present, Albert reminds us to possess a bent toward positivity as we look toward tomorrow. Hope is a powerful word. It can be one's natural tendency, or one may need to manufacture (work on) the promise of hope.
Albert leaves us, and we will as well, with the essential thing: to utilize this awesomely designed brain of ours to continue questioning, learning, and growing. Some questioning could be: why is an alcoholic an alcoholic? Why did I drink the way I did? Why am I given this second chance opportunity? What can I do to improve my mental, physical and spiritual health? And what can I be doing to help the next struggling alcoholic?
The question is, what can I be questioning today?
Happy birthday Albert,
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own