Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman

Summary

A collection of interesting stories from the life of the fascinating, infinitely curious, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. Feynman reminds you of the importance of questioning the status quo, the joy of learning and acquiring new skills, and how to approach life with an open mind and a bias for adventure.

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Key Takeaways

Get curious about the world

“I always do that, get into something and see how far I can go.”

“Learn what the rest of the world is like. The variety is worthwhile.”

Richard Feynman’s deep curiosity about the world is what makes him so awesome. His penchant for exploring and learning enabled him to do much more than win a Nobel Prize. He understood that the curious were the ones who learned, and the ones who learned were the ones who had more fun, better relationships, and more success.

It’s not your responsibility

“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”

You are not responsible for living up to other people’s expectations of what you should be. You have one life to live, and it’s up to you to make that life exactly what you want, independent of the opinions imposed on you by other people.

The cycle of life

“Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that’s the end of you.”

Life is short. It’s full of pain, joy, and boredom. It’s full of failures and victories. But it goes quickly. So get curious, continue learning, continue doing, and at some point, it will all be over.

Don’t fool yourself

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

You are the easiest person to fool – whether it’s about how you are, the validity of your opinions, or the merits of your judgment. But make a conscious effort not to fool yourself. View yourself from a rational and outside perspective. In doing so, you might learn a few things that will prevent some of the big mistakes in your life.

Be confident

“You have to have absolute confidence. Keep right on going, and nothing will happen.”

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