One Small Thing

Albert Einstein's handwritten advice for a happy life still resonates 95 years later

Albert Einstein may be famous for his theory of relativity — but did you know he also had sage advice about how to achieve lifelong happiness?

A handwritten note from 1922 by the famous physicist in which he gives his advice about how to live happily fetched $1.56 million in an auction by an Israeli firm on Tuesday.

"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,'' the note reads in German, according to the official listing by Winner's Auctions & Exhibitions.

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See Albert Einstein's (and our TODAY anchors) advice on how to have a happy life

Play Video - 3:29

See Albert Einstein's (and our TODAY anchors) advice on how to have a happy life

Play Video - 3:29

Einstein actually parted with that handwritten advice and one other short note because he did not have any coins to tip a messenger who came to his room at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the auction house wrote.

It had just recently been announced that Einstein would be awarded the Nobel Prize of 1921, so he told the messenger to hold on to the notes because they may be worth something one day, thanks to Einstein's new-found status.

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What's the secret to happiness? Author Dan Buettner reveals the answer

Play Video - 8:03

What's the secret to happiness? Author Dan Buettner reveals the answer

Play Video - 8:03

Einstein had been welcomed by thousands in Japan looking to get a glimpse of the latest Nobel Prize winner during a lecture series he was giving across the country. He decided to put his thoughts and feelings on the hotel's official paper in his room, and then handed over two of them in an impromptu fashion to the messenger.

The second note, which read "Where there's a will there's a way," was bought for $240,000 at Tuesday's auction.

Einstein's simple approach to achieving happiness clearly still has value 95 years after he wrote it. The auction house expected to get between $5,000 and $8,000 for that specific note, but it wound up going for a lot more.

Einstein's note prompted the TODAY anchors to think about what kind of advice for happiness they would offer. Al Roker said to always be yourself, while Hoda Kotb stressed being present in the moment.

TODAY explored the topic last week with Dan Buettner, author of the National Geographic book, “The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People." The key secrets to happiness he has found are pleasure, pride and purpose.

Akin to Einstein's comments about restlessness, Buettner added that it’s not only how you live but where you live that also makes a difference. Just ask the people of Denmark, the country is considered one of the happiest places in the world.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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