“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”― Albert Einstein, LIFE Magazine ( 1955), Theoretical physicist and winner of 1921 Nobel prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and inventor of the general theory of relativity.
I have always been fascinated by the life and the words of wisdom from famous scientists.
Whether it is Jane Goodall, Nikolai Tesla, Marie Curie, or Albert Einstein, we know that their contributions to humanity are vast.
What can we learn from the wisdom of famous scientists and how can we apply it in our own lives?
I have compiled together what I learned from famous scientists over the ages.
1. Being On The Right Track
“If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off… no matter what they say.” -Barbara McClintock, 1983 Nobel Prize-winning cytogeneticist known for her discoveries with regulation of genetic expression including jumping genes.
Do you have the inner knowledge that you are on the right track?
When your thoughts, feelings, actions and goals feel oriented, you experience an inner power and an inner knowledge.
You still have challenges but they seem small compared to the forward motion you experience.
Most importantly, you have the willingness and eagerness to engage and solve a problem.
Do you feel like you are on the right track?
2. Understand, Care, and Assist in Making the Earth a Better Place
“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”― Jane Goodall, Primatologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees with over 55 years of work on the social interactions of chimpanzees in the wild in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
It is important to understand the contribution of all people in the preservation of the environment and the earth.
And when do we care and treat the earth as the fragile environmentally place that it is? Only when we deeply care for it.
Only when we understand the earth that we will understand how to take batter care of it.
When we care enough and have a deeper understanding of how things work, we will share the responsibility of conservation and preservation.
3. Change Your Perspective And Look at Things With New Eyes
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”― Abraham Maslow, Psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
We get used to seeing and acting from a single perspective that is shaped from our past experiences and situations.
But always remember that there might be other perspectives to the same problem.
You may have other choices.
There are perspectives:
- You know that exist that you are willing to look at but do not do so out of habit.
- You know that exist but you are unwilling to look at.
- You do not know that exist because you never got exposed to those ideas.
It is always tempting to use the same solutions to solve a problem even when they do not work well.
“How inappropriate to call this planet “Earth,” when it is clearly “Ocean.” ― Arthur C. Clarke, Science fiction writer, undersea explorer, science writer, and inventor.
4. The Amazing Power Of Networking And Having a Great Team
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”― Isaac Newton, The Correspondence Of Isaac Newton, Mathematician and physicist known for his pioneering work in dynamics and the laws of motion and known as the father of modern calculus.
The power of a TEAM and networking and connection is essential to your success.
If you want to build something of value, it is through connecting with others and forming sustainable teams can you achieve this.
The bottom-line is that we cannot do everything ourselves.
5. Reconnect with a Sense of Curiosity, Wonder, and Excitement
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” -Rachel Carson, Marine biologist and conservationist and author of the book Silent Spring.
Are you able to connect to the inner child and have a sense of deep wonder and excitement? Are you allowing curiosity and clear vision to form your day or do you have a cynical and jaded view of life?
It is not naive to be full of wonder and excitement. Moreover, reconnecting with curiosity makes your day special and full of adventure.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” ― Albert Einstein, The World As I See It, Theoretical physicist and winner of 1921 Nobel prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and inventor of the general theory of relativity.
“Basically, I have been compelled by curiosity.” — Mary Leakey, Fossil hunter, paleontologist, and anthropologist known for the discovery of ancestral human fossils
Are you compelled by an overwhelming sense and feeling of curiosity? If you are not curious in your field, you might want to reconsider doing something else.
Being driven by a sense of curiosity and wonder is always better than being driven by money or an obligation. Never abandon your sense of wonder.
“Wonder is the seed of knowledge”― Francis Bacon, Philosopher, scientist and author who is credited for being the earliest adopter of empericism and the scientific method.
6. Learn More in Small Steps
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, author, cosmologist and director of the Hayden Planetarium.
The dilemma that we find ourselves of being stuck is a result of doing the same habitual things and getting used to the comfort zone.
When you make it a priority to learn something new every day, even small, your life is deeply enriched.
Another issue that we face is information overload and a huge number of choices that overwhelm us. This gets us stuck squarely in analysis paralysis.
Instead of having big goals that you never accomplish, have a small goal of moving forward in small steps. Learn something new every day.
7. Look Ahead And Find Work That Gives You Meaning And Purpose
“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” ― Stephen Hawking, Cosmologist, theoretical physicist and author of bestselling book, A Brief History of Time.
Looking ahead and not down or away is the key to success and moving forward. When you find work that excites you and supercharges that purpose that you have, you are ready to take on your challenges.
Life is not fun without a challenging purpose and something larger than yourself to inspire to. Find good work, find love and strive to keep it!
8. Be Comfortable With The Unknown
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” ― Albert Einstein, Theoretical physicist and winner of 1921 Nobel prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and inventor of the general theory of relativity.
It is easy to fall into a pattern of repeated tasks and habits and do the same thing. After all, it is comfortable to be doing the same thing and becoming great at it.
However, the word research itself points you towards a new search. A new destination. Somewhere you have never traveled before and the path is unknown. The results are unknown and the future uncertain.
Are you ready for the uncertainty?
“A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher, poet and scholar whose work had a great influence on modern intellectual history and philosophy.
What a wonderful explanation of success and failure to view them both as answers to experimental questions.
This philosophy makes sure that you do not get carried away and distracted with success.
It also makes sure that you do not get dismantled by the perceived illusions of failure.
Success and failure are the two sides of a coin pushing you forward toward your hypotheses.
10. Recognize Your Uniqueness
“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”― Ray Bradbury, Fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction author who is credited to be the forerunner of bringing science fiction to the mainstream.
You are unique. If you have any doubt about that, science shows that out of countless combinations of genetic shuffle, nature has come together as the marvelous consciousness called you.
This is not a cliché or an overly optimistic way of looking at things but a biological reality.
And not to mention of the amazing physics, chemistry and statistics that has made possible your own human form.
SO recognize that you are unique in a unique universe and get to work to express your best talent and creativity.
11. Don’t get Discouraged By a No
“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t.” — Gertrude B. Elion, Biochemist and pharmacologist, who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize Medicine. She developed a multitude of new drugs, including those for leukemia, malaria, herpes, immuno-suppressants and helped with work on AZT, one of the first AIDS drug.
Many well-intentioned people get distressed at the prospect of adventure and say no when you propose something. If you have the next world changing food recipe or a new app that needs to say the light of day, do not let others talk you out of it.
Remember that hard work and staying the course are not easy and it is only too easy to dismiss an idea based on the opinions and anxieties of other people.
12. Listen But Believe In Yourself
“My mother always taught us that if people don’t agree with you, the important thing is to listen to them. But if you’ve listened to them carefully and you still think that you’re right, then you must have the courage of your convictions.” – Jane Goodall, Primatologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees with over 55 years of work on the social interactions of chimpanzees in the wild in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
It may be difficult to listen to others because they go against your beliefs and ideals. But you have to face the critics and people who do not agree with you.
It is best to develop the skill of listening to others with value and then using that information to make your plan better.
You should not hold on to your ideas in a way that other ideas do not matter to you at all. And you feel like you have no room to improve.
You should not hold your ideas such that you drop them at the first sight of a better way and plan.
It is a difficult balance to hold on to your plans while debating the merit and demerits of other opinions in an honest and open way.
13. Observe and Sharpen Your Awareness
“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” – Eden Phillpotts, Author, poet amd dramatist.
It is true that we can only work at the level of our awareness of the problem.
Often, all a creative solution requires is a change of perspective from the normal.
Once we enhance our already present powers of observation and choose to be not so distracted, the universe opens up in magical ways.
14. Ask The Right Questions
“The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”― Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ethnologist and anthropologist who developed the theory of structuralism and structural anthropology.
Asking the right questions is vital for thinking like a scientist. You may think that scientists find science related solutions to pressing problems.
But even more vital for the scientist is to ask the right questions.
What is the context or framework?
What is the bigger picture and how do the details work?
How does this relate to other things?
How can others help me on this?
15. Welcome Challenges
“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them” ― Rita Levi-Montalcini, Neurobiologist and joint Nobel prize winner in 1986 for the discovery of nerve growth factor or NGF
We should welcome challenges instead of avoiding them. Challenges make life more meaningful.
When you need to accomplish a great challenge, you activate hidden resources of mind, body, and spirit. Challenges make us grow and become more aware of the self.
16. How to Make Progress
“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”― Carl Sagan, Astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, author, astrobiologist, and narrator and writer of Cosmos, a personal voyage.
What is the most consistent way to make progress? It is important in science and in our lives to not be too attached to our versions of the story.
It is a lot better to objectively analyze a result and see it for what it is instead of how good it makes us feel.
In psychology, there is a bias called the loss aversion bias or the sunk cost bias.
In this bias, we do not want to pivot and change direction because of all the time and effort already invested. We cling to our own versions even though feedback indicated otherwise.
“Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not. That needs more courage than we might think.”- Jacob Bronowski, scientist, broadcaster and writer
For great success, accept what works and be unafraid to reject what does not.
17. You Matter
“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”- Jane Goodall, Primatologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees with over 55 years of work on the social interactions of chimpanzees in the wild in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
Ever thought that your individual contribution does not make a difference? Well, you are not alone. We all have doubts about our work at some point or another. But the truth is that your work matters.
Every single one of us has a role to play. If you are able to embrace your role and move on with creating your own path is up to you. But never doubt that a small group of inspired people cannot make a huge difference.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”― Jane Goodall, Primatologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Goodall is Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees with over 55 years of work on the social interactions of chimpanzees in the wild in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.
18. The Power Of Mistakes and The Importance of Failure
“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”― Jules Verne, Novelist and one of the first science fiction writers and author of A Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Once you begin thinking like a scientist in your own life, you come across the realization that mistakes are actually good. This is because they are the great realizations that propel you forward in your own work.
Mistakes make you reorganize and recognize blind spots and blinders.
Allow those mistakes to be learning opportunities and not the end of a chapter.
“Progress is made by trial and failure; the failures are generally a hundred times more numerous than the successes; yet they are usually left unchronicled.”- William Ramsay, Chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the 1904 Nobel prize.
19. Reevaluate those Assumptions
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”― Isaac Asimov, Writer and scientist who coined the term robotics
Most of us have made assumptions that have brought us to the point of life that we are currently in.
Some of these assumptions are productive and allow you structures and habits that benefit you. Many others are not good assumptions that you must constantly question.
Some common ones:
I am not good enough.
People will hate my work.
I am not worthy of love.
Why would anyone care for what I have to say.
I am not good in…..
And so on.
Are you questioning your deep seated beliefs and assumptions?
20. Keeping It Real: Become Aware of Biases
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”― Richard Feynman, Theoretical physicist who shared the 1965 Nobel prize for physics.
It is a good idea to become aware of cognitive biases and hurdles that keep you from getting the most from your life.
Here is a list of biases to look out for.
21. The True Nature Of Science
“You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” – Rosalind Franklin, X-ray crystallographer and chemist whose work on DNA crystals paved the way to the discovery of the DNA double-stranded structure.
Science is and can be fascinating if we ask how things work. If we decide to open up to the knowledge that science brings us whether it is psychology or biology or physics, we will see that science transforms from the esoteric to the essential.
We will see that life and science are intertwined together like the strands of DNA are coiled together.
“Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.”― Richard Dawkins, Biologist and author of The Selfish Gene.
One of the insights from modern psychological research is that prosocial service or service to others makes us happy.
When we get beyond the narcissistic view, we are able to break away from the selfish genetic patterns that may have helped us survive.
It may be true that the seeds of service and cooperation are as essential and ingrained as might be the seeds of narcissism and selfishness.
“I tell young people: Do not think of yourself, think of others. Think of the future that awaits you, think about what you can do and do not fear anything.”― Rita Levi-Montalcini, Neurobiologist and joint Nobel prize winner in 1986 for the discovery of nerve growth factor or NGF
23. Perseverance and Confidence, the Secret Sauce for Success
“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” — Marie Curie, Physicist who discovered radioactivity and shared the 1903 Nobel prize.
When you have confidence in your abilities and skills, you are giving yourself the permission to move forward.
You move despite the overwhelming doubts and seeming shortcomings.
The important thing to remember is that you need to have more confidence than doubt in yourself.
Too much doubt and a lack of confidence will eventually make you give up and not persevere.
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.”― Rachel Carson, Marine Biologist and Conservationist and author of Silent Spring and The Sea Around Us.
As humans that have a thinking and simulating new brain or the pre-frontal cortex, we can imagine the pros and cons of a situation even before it has happened.
We can develop scenarios based on the simulation, something that is unique in the animal kingdom.
Even with great cognitive abilities, we always need to remember that we are part of this magnificent planet and nature. And not the other way around.
This place we call earth is wonderful and we need to keep it that way for the generations to come.
We need to consider our impact on the terrestrial and the marine ecosystems.
We need to use our thinking brains to come up with unique environmental solutions to the many problems like habitat loss, global warming and so on.
25. The Frequent Repetition Bias
“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”― Daniel Kahneman, Psychologist, behavioral economist and winner of the 2002 Nobel prize in economics and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Just because we are repeatedly exposed to something does not make it the best choice or the truth.
We should always remember that we have other choices and we need to step away from familiarity and the circle of comfort to try them to enrich our lives.
26. Always Reason Things Out For Yourself
“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”― Galileo Galilei, Astronomer and physicist who discovered the constancy of the pendulum’s swing and the law of uniform acceleration of falling bodies and a pioneer in the use telescopes for astronomy and discovery of moon craters.
We are always looking out for the authority opinion in something. We seek out the expert advice and then try to fit our life according to the productivity, life and other tips that we hear.
This is good if it works great for us.
We believe that since something makes others happy, successful etc., it has to work for us too.
But we need to factor in our uniqueness in this.
Reason things for yourself with your unique situation and your life need. Most importantly, test things out for yourself and see what works and what does not.
27. Dump The Excess Information that Clutters
“Never memorize something that you can look up.”― Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist and winner of 1921 Nobel prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and inventor of the general theory of relativity.
Declutter your life.
Declutter your closets.
Declutter your desks.
Declutter your mind.
Declutter your life.
28. Become An Innovator
“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.”― Nikola Tesla, Author of My Inventions, Electrical engineer and inventor of alternating current or AC induction motor, tesla coils and oscillators.
You have the latent power of an inventor and an innovator with the human creative brain.
Use your creative powers today to come up with innovative ideas to better your life and the life of others.
29.The Cure to Fear Is to Understand
“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.”― Marie Curie, Physicist and chemist known for her work on radioactivity and first woman and twice nobel prize winner.
Fear is a powerful deterrent to a life where you can flourish. Fear also prevents you from taking the next BIG leap of excellence.
What is the best way to get past fear? Understand the fear and face it. The unknown component of fear keeps us locked in place.
30. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
“Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.”― Albert Einstein, Theoretical physicist and winner of 1921 Nobel prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect and inventor of the general theory of relativity.
Simplify everything. You are not able to take action because things might be getting too complicated.
If you are making excuses or not making progress, ask if things are too complicated. Simplify them.
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