In the news recently, a note written by Einstein on Hotel Tokyo paper sold for $1.6M. On UK/US news sites, it is being translated as "A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it."

I would really like to know this quote in the original German, but my knowledge of German is poor and my ability to read scribbled handwriting is even worse.

Google translates this note as "Ein ruhiges und bescheidenes Leben wird mehr Glück bringen als das Streben nach Erfolg und die ständige Unruhe, die damit einhergeht." but even I can see this isn't how Einstein wrote it.

Could someone please enlighten me?

  • FWIW, Google's German translation is actually very good, but the English translation differs in meaning from the original quote. Einstein wrote: 'A calm ... happiness than successful striving and the ...'. He is not comparing a calm life with the pursuit of success, but successful striving for something not nearer specified.
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 15:59
  • Einstein's handwriting is clear, precise and good readable. For a native speaker of German it is easy to read.
    – Uwe
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


There is a Spiegel Online Article about that Tokyo hotel episode.

According to this, the original quote is:

Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glück als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit beständiger Unruhe.

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Source: Wikimedia

  • I am astonished that Einstein could have written something so banal. Also, the comma after "Streben" is wrong.
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 14:32
  • 3
    The comma is not wrong because it separates an addition (Zusatz) from the main clause.
    – RHa
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 21:37

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