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Self-Discovery Einstein, Feynman and Ape

7 Minutes to a Life Secret of Self-Discovery.

A Breakthrough Discovery: Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman & an ape named Nueva.

Leonard Mlodinow tells this story about first encountering the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman.

Feynman had asked what the new physicist had been working on.

“I’ve been reading about the process of discovery”, Mlodinow said in response to Feynman.

The young Cal Tech physicist, challenged by his hero, began to explain. He discussed Arthur Koestler’s book, The Act of Creation.

Within it he told the story of Albert Einstein and a fellow scientist in the midst of studying an ape named Nueva. It took place in Berlin in 1914 — the two scientists only blocks apart in space and time. Einstein was 9 years into his work on the theory of relativity, and still 2 years away from his breakthrough. As Einstein is challenged by his work to understand the universe, down the street, Nueva is challenged by her most primal desire – to eat.

Nueva is in her cage. She has a stick that she is using to create a pile of banana skins. Outside the cage, Koestler offers the hungry ape fresh bananas. However, in a test, the bananas are left outside the cage for the first time, just far enough away.

Nueva drops the stick and desperately reaches through the cage, but she cannot reach the food she wants, she needs. After minutes of futile effort, Nueva rolls on her back inside the cage in despair.

Feynman breaks in to the story to mention that probably, at that same moment in time, the genius Einstein metaphorically matches her, straining to find an answer.

Mlodinow continues, “Seven minutes pass. Nueva suddenly stares at the stick. She stops moaning and grabs it. Nueva thrusts it out of the cage, just beyond the fruit, and pulls it to within arms reach. “She has made a discovery.”

Feynman grilled him, “and what did this incident teach you?”

The answer came.

“Nueva had two skills. One was pushing things around with a stick; the other was reaching through the bars to grab something. Her discovery was putting the two disparate skills together. It turned her old tool, the stick, into an altogether different tool. ….so I guess I learned something about the psychology of discovery. Something I might hope to apply.”

“You’re wasting your time,” the nobel prize physicist Feynman said, “psychology is a bunch of bullshit.”

The young physicist winced at the rebuke as Feynman, with a sly smiled, continued —

“What I would learn from your story is that if an ape can make a discovery, so can you.”

What is your self-discovery today?

How can you apply a simple tool in a new way?

What about taking 7 minutes to stop and think?

It has been proven that just reflecting on what is good, and yes, what is bad in your life will always bring positive results and reduced anxiety. What if you just wrote your thoughts, or quietly contemplated what is important in your life for just 7 minutes per day?

What if 7 minutes per day would bring you a life changing self-discovery?

Einstein changed the world by thinking in a new way.

Even if it took you another 2 years like Einstein, would it not be worth it to create something so ‘life-changingly’ amazing?

Einstein is famous for many things, but he was never so right as when he said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

What if in the next 7 minutes, you made a simple discovery, a new way of putting 2 things together that would forever change your own world, way of living, way of thinking.

What if this made you feel stress-free almost all of the time?

It is possible. It happens everyday. It can happen for you.

We become what we think about on a regular basis, what we think about the most. It is hardwired into the human brain.

Are you not worth 7 minutes per day? Is your family not important enough for 7 minutes of your time?

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