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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 September 30, 2020

                                          How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                          How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

                                          We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

                                          In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

                                          The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

                                          The Importance of Living in the Moment

                                          “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

                                          While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

                                          Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

                                          Better Health

                                          By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

                                          Improve Your Relationships

                                          Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

                                          Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

                                          How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

                                          By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

                                          Greater Self-Control

                                          You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

                                          Why Do We Worry?

                                          Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

                                          When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

                                          Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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                                          Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

                                          3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

                                          Step 1: Overcome Worrying

                                          In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

                                          Calm Your Mind

                                          When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

                                          The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

                                          In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

                                          Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

                                          Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

                                          People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

                                          If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

                                          Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

                                          In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

                                          Racing Mind

                                          Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

                                          You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

                                          If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

                                          Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

                                          None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

                                          So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

                                          By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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                                          In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

                                          Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

                                          A Wandering Mind

                                          From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

                                          Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

                                          Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

                                          Outside Influences

                                          Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

                                          Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

                                          Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

                                          So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

                                          Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

                                          Understand Mindfulness

                                          The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

                                          When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

                                          You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

                                          This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

                                          To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

                                          If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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                                          You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

                                          Mindfulness Meditation

                                          Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

                                          Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

                                          You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

                                          This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

                                          If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

                                          Mindful Breathing

                                          While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

                                          You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

                                          Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

                                          Mindful Walking

                                          Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

                                          Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

                                          Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

                                          You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

                                          In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

                                          You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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                                          Mindful Eating

                                          Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

                                          The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

                                          Live in the present with mindful eating.

                                            Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

                                            So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

                                            • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
                                            • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
                                            • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

                                            You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

                                            Mindful Activities

                                            Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

                                            Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

                                            You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

                                            Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

                                            Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

                                            The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

                                            More About Living in the Present

                                            Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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