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20 Inspirational Lessons From Nobel Prize Winners

20 Inspirational Lessons From Nobel Prize Winners

I took on this piece because I knew it would be a challenge, something that no Nobel Peace Prize winner has ever shied away from. In my research, I had the honor of playing time traveler to authentically recount banquet speeches and key points from the work of these geniuses that pushed humanity in the right direction. I found some of the most original, thoughtful, and brightest minds our species has to offer, and their wisdom will no doubt serve us for eternity.

Here are 20 philosophers, physicists, chemists, writers, thinkers, doers, and former Nobel Prize winners who set the foundation for worldly progression and sociological change. Their words are unparalleled, and their work has unquestionably altered the world we know today in a positive way.  Yet, I realized something during my studies about these people that may surprise you, but I’ll save my reckoning till after these genius’ have the stand.

Malala.Yousafzaic

    1. Malala Yousafza

    Lesson Taught: Prioritizing knowledge over violence (particularly in the Middle East).

    Prize Category: Peace (2014)

    “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are the most powerful weapons.”

    – Banquet Speech

    Jimmy_Carter_April_1980

      2. Jimmy Carter

      Lesson Taught: Unity trumps everything in our path to peace.

      Prize Category: Peace (2002)

      “Despite theological differences, all great religions share common commitments that define our ideal secular relationships. I am convinced that Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and others can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and to espouse peace.”

      – Nobel Lecture

      Madre Teresa

        3. Mother Teresa

        Lesson Taught: The correlation of love, work, and sacrifice.

        Prize Category: Peace (1979)

        “At the moment of death, we will not be judged by the amount of work we have done but by the weight of love we have put into our work. This love should flow from self-sacrifice, and it must be felt to the point of hurting.”

        – No Greater Love

        6-william-butler-yeats-granger

          4. William Butler Yeats

          Lesson Taught: Positive perspective.

          Prize Category: Literature (1923)

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          “Let us go forth, the teller of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.”

          The Celtic Twilight 

          Niels_Bohr_Date_Unverified_LOC
            5. Niels Henrik David Bohr

            Lesson Taught: Make mistakes, but learn from them.

            Prize Category: Physics (1922)

            “An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.”

            – Dr. Edward Teller’s Magnificent Obsession by Robert Coughlan (LIFE magazine) 

            Mandela-de-Klerk

              6. Nelson Mandela

              Lesson Taught: The important difference between fear and being afraid.

              Prize Category: Peace (1993)

              “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

              – Long Walk to Freedom

              857px-Hermann_Hesse_2

                7. Hermann Hesse

                Lesson Taught: Live out the things you value most.

                Prize Category: Literature (1946)

                “Only the ideas that we actually live are of any value.”

                – Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth

                “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

                 – Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth

                George_Bernard_Shaw_notebook

                  8. George Bernard Shaw

                  Lesson Taught: Circumstances are made, not given.

                  Prize Category: Literature (1925)

                  “People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get fed up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

                  – Mrs. Warren’s Profession

                  Portrait_of_Rudyard_Kipling

                    9. Rudyard Kipling

                    Lesson Taught: The power of words.

                    Prize Category: Literature (1907)

                    “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

                     – Speech quoted in The Times

                    Sir_Winston_S_Churchill

                      10. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

                      Lesson Taught: Overcoming adversity.

                      Prize Category: Literature (1953)

                      “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

                      Sir Winston Churchill: His Wit and Wisdom by Jon Allen

                      “It’s no enough to do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required”

                      Two Wars by Nate Self

                      Sinclair-Lewis1

                        11. Sinclair Lewis

                        Lesson Taught: No way is the right way.

                        Prize Category: Literature (1930)

                        He insisted that there is no Truth, but only many truths; that Truth is not a colored bird to be chased among the rocks and captured by it’s tail, but a skeptical attitude on life.”

                        Arrowsmith

                        Ernest

                          12. Ernest Hemingway

                          Lesson Taught: Reaching your potential is gaining fulfillment.

                          Prize Category: Literature (1954)

                          “He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayls of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook. What was this? A catalogue of old books? What was his talent anyway? It was a talent all right but instead of using it, he had traded on it. It was never what he had done, but always what he could do.”

                          The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway  

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                          steinbeck_905

                            13. John Steinbeck

                            Lesson Taught: Mind over mob.

                            Prize Category: Literature (1962)

                            “And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction is wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.”

                            – East of Eden

                            Theodore_Roosevelt_circa_1902

                              14. Theodore Roosevelt

                              Lesson Taught: One small step daily will eventually climb a mountain.

                              Prize Category: Peace (1906)

                              “Our words must be judged by our deeds; and in striving for a lofty ideal we must use practical methods; and if we cannot attain all at one leap, we must advance towards it step by step, reasonably content so long as we do actually make some progress in the right direction.”

                              – Acceptance Speech

                              MLK

                                15. Martin Luther King Jr.

                                Lesson Taught: The beauty of camaraderie.

                                Prize Category: Peace (1964)

                                “…the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”

                                – Acceptance Speech

                                Barack

                                  16. Barack Obama

                                  Lesson Taught: Freedom doesn’t settle.

                                  Prize Category: Peace (2009)

                                  “Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”

                                  – Iowa Caucus Victory Speech

                                  ts-eliot-422628

                                    17. Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot

                                    Lesson Taught:

                                    Prize Category: Literature (1948)

                                    “To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.”

                                    The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism 

                                    Linus

                                      18. Linus Pauling

                                      Lesson Taught: Everything must be taken with no more than one grain of salt.

                                      Prize Category: Chemistry (1954)

                                      “When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust into anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or has lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel laureate – may be wrong. The world progresses, year by year, century by century, as the members of the younger generation find out what was wrong among the things that their elders said. So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself.”

                                      – Scientist and Peacemaker

                                      Marie_Curie_Tekniska_museet

                                        19. Marie Curie, née Sklodowska

                                        Lesson Taught: Let fear be silenced by knowledge.

                                        Prize Category: Physics (1903)

                                        “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

                                        Precarious Habitat 

                                        614px-Albert_Einstein

                                          20. Albert Einstein

                                          Lesson Taught: Mind is to intellect as imagination is to genius.

                                          Prize Category: Physics (1921)

                                          “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

                                          – Letter to Moris Raphael Cohen

                                          “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

                                          – Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms

                                          “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

                                          – Einstein’s Tribute to Pablo Casals

                                          These are by no means ordinary or standard thoughts. Yet, the ideas shared on a grand scale of an NPP banquet aren’t any more or less profound than conversations I’ve had with professors, colleagues, business associates, and, yes, my friends. We all want peace, change, and personal prosperity, but few of us take the personal and communal steps in order to get there.

                                          Realize that you, too, are capable of great things like the leaders I’ve shared with you today. Let’s gracefully and proudly stand on the shoulders of our forefathers, and expand what they worked so tirelessly to build. If you firmly believe that you are worthy to walk among these greats, than you’ll take the first step of enacting the change you so desperately seek in the world.

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                                          Go get it.

                                          Featured photo credit: Podium / Pixgood via candymariebridges.com

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                                          Last Updated on December 3, 2019

                                          10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

                                          10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

                                          There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

                                          Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

                                          1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

                                          Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

                                          There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

                                          Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

                                          2. Pace Yourself

                                          Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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                                          Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

                                          Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

                                          3. You Can’t Please Everyone

                                          “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

                                          You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

                                          Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

                                          4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

                                          Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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                                          We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

                                          Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

                                          5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

                                          “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

                                          No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

                                          We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

                                          6. It’s Not All About You

                                          You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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                                          It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

                                          7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

                                          No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

                                          We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

                                          Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

                                          8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

                                          That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

                                          Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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                                          Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

                                          9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

                                          Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

                                          The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

                                          10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

                                          We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

                                          When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

                                          Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

                                          This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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