How did Albert Einstein Spend His Leisure Time?
Practice these habits for maximum productivity of the brain
Albert Einstein (1875–1955) is considered as the most influential and recognizable scientist of the 20th century. He presented the theory of relativity which changed our prior concepts regarding space and time. This theory now serves as one of the two pillars of modern physics, the other one being quantum theory.
Albert Einstein was a hard worker, besides the hard work he always used to take some time off. He worked for ten hours a day, six days a week. Also, he had the immense capability to focus on work for extended times. He used to say,
"Keep in mind that besides the eight hours of work, each day also has eight hours for fooling around, and then there's also Sunday." - Albert Einstein.
He was of the idea that busy people can never do wonders in their life, something great happens when a person is relaxing. Taking some time off provides a vital escape from the laborious life, a scientist has. Staring up at the sky, hiking above the mountain, walking across the sea are some tranquilizing practices. He once said,
"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
I will highlight some of the unusual patterns in Albert Einstein’s life and his exercises to relax his mind to magnify the productivity.
- He was an incredibly talented musician. He got the germs of music from his mother who was a talented piano player. He used to spend hours playing the violin while he goes bird- watching. He said, “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music”, also “I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin.”
It was perceived by his close acquaintances that if the career of being a scientist had not worked out for him, he could have been a world-class violinist.
Playing an instrument could be a wonderful exercise for the brain. It enhances cognitive skills, time-management skills, concentration, and creativity, as it uses every part of the brain
His wife Elsa said, "He goes to his study, comes back, strikes a few chords on the piano, jots something down, returns to his study."
- He used to sleep at least ten hours per day. That's more than an average American now i.e. 6.8 hours.
It’s a well-known fact that sleep is good for brain activity. In the case of Einstein, this time scale was meaningful, as his special theory of relativity came to him during his dream. Einstein had a dream about an elevator falling in space and also that he was near the mountainside, going so fast that eventually, he was close to the speed of light. The stars and other objects in his dream changed their appearance at that moment.
He awoke and meditated on this dream. Soon he formulated a theory which is among the most beautiful scientific theories in the history of science. That changed humanity’s perspective on space, time, gravity as well as the mechanics of the universe.
A lot of scientists claim that they can do lucid dreams (conscious while being dreaming), which helps them in visualizing science.
- The daily walk was mandatory for him, while he was working at Princeton University, he used to travel the one and a half-mile distance on his foot, both ways.
On-campus, when he would come up with an idea, he would enter the nearby classroom and traces out the equation about the recent thought on the blackboard. Then he would discard the work and continued the walk.
Apart from fitness, walking can distract a brain in a way that can boost memory and problem-solving skills. It provides a different approach to our thinking, sometimes may lead to potential you don’t have at your working place. As quoted by Einstein “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
- He loved to answer the mails he received from his fans, especially from children. In one letter, a young girl told about her difficulties in understanding mathematics. He supposedly wrote back, “Do not worry about your difficulty in mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
He always wrote back the mails filled with encouragement and humbleness.
- He was in love with noodles/spaghetti. Pasta lovers are allowed to feel good on this one. It has not been verified, perhaps, he once jokingly quoted about his favorite things in Italy "spaghetti and Levi-Civita (mathematician)"
- He loved to do sailing. He started sailing when he was an undergraduate student in Zurich and that continued throughout his life. Although he was not so good at it. He required rescue many times due to his unstable grip. Many times he would get lost on the way and returned a few hours later. Due to the bad repute, his sailboat became famous with the name Tinef, which means worthless/Junk.
An exceptional thought that revolutionized the science that space and time were curved, came to him when he was out on the water. He wrote to a mathematician Oswald Veblen in a letter in 1930 that,
"Nature conceals her secrets because she is sublime, not because she is a trickster."
To reveal the secrets of nature — we need to get away from our daily life routines — to behold the vastness of the universe.
- He used to smoke a pipe. Everyone knew him around the campus for the cloud of smoke which followed wherever he goes. That's not a wise habit to follow as we know the bad effects of smoking on health.
- He had a horrible sense of fashion. He would often found wearing sandals without socks. He thought that it is easier to think efficiently when your feet are comfortable and not wearing socks has always been comforted him.
He was extremely proud of the fact that he didn't have to wear them while giving lectures at Oxford in the 1930s.
Nowadays, we live in a world that appreciates overdoing and overworking. Because of this frame, people try to do as much as possible while burying their inner selves. They create unrealistic expectations about their to-do list. These superhuman endeavors lead to stress, disappointments, and depression.
We have now lost sight of the true meaning of productivity. Productivity is not about getting more things done, rather it is about getting the right things done.
Enjoying one's own company, dating one's own self, and solitude is very important to discover insightful solutions to the problems. It enhances our output and decision-making skills in everyday life.
If we look back at history, there is a list of great thinkers, leaders, and scientists who commonly sought solitude to shape their thinking. Leonardo Da Vinci, Martin Luther King, Nikola Tesla, and Ernest Hemingway are few of them.
"Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born." - Nikola Tesla
The genius spent his final years of life doing what he wanted to do - working on the unified theory (the theory of everything), sailing, and enjoying life. On his 75th birthday, he received a parrot as a gift, he loved talking to him and telling him jokes.
He was not only an intellectual but also a philosopher and a humanitarian. He is known as the father of modern physics and was called "the greatest Jew alive."