You all know Neil deGrasse Tyson, the award-winning astrophysicist, author, talk show host, and science communicator with a luscious afro. He has made science, physics more specifically, a less intimidating subject with his fun approach and quick wit. As he continuously has us looking up and wondering about life in outer space, let’s take a look at some things that the scientist taught us about life here on Earth.
When you usually come across this saying, you might expect the typical cliché, hackneyed advice that one often hears. But Neil deGrasse Tyson has given a clever and articulate answer to people who continuously ask the astrophysicist how to be like him.
“I think the greatest of people that have ever been in society, they were never versions of someone else. They were themselves. You didn’t think about Michael Jordan, the basketball player, and say ‘Oh, he was just like this other player.’ No, you don’t even say, ‘He was like this player plus that player divided by two plus this.’ No. He’s Michael Jordan. I think the greatest of people in society carved niches that represent the unique expression of their combination of talents, and if everyone had the luxury of expressing the unique combinations of talents in this world, our society would be transformed overnight.”
There are plenty of successful, intelligent, kind, and inspirational individuals out there. It’s always smart to learn from them. However, at the end of the day, it’s your unique mix of skills and talents that have a decisive role in sketching your future as well as the improved version of you.
Meaning of life
Asked by a 6-year-old about the meaning of life, Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a mind-blowing answer.
“[…] maybe meaning in life is something you create, you manufacture for yourself and for others. And so when I think of meaning in life I ask ‘Have I learned something today that I didn’t know yesterday, bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the universe?’ […] If I live a day and I don’t know a little more that day than the day before I think I wasted that day. […] So when I think of what’s the meaning of life, to me that’s not an eternal unanswerable question. To me, that is in arm’s reach of me every day.”
He has taught us that the meaning of life is not something tangible that is waiting for you to find it. During your lifetime, learning new things, generating motivation, making progress, drafting a trajectory are supposed to be on your daily to-do list. The accumulation of all that learning and effort is the meaning of life.
Let children explore…and adults too!
During a Big Think video, the award-winning scientist discussed letting kids explore the fascinating environment around them. Here is one of his most interesting statements:
“We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down.”
Children are curious by nature, so why not get out of their way (just as Neil DeGrasse Tyson suggests), encourage them to discover, ask questions, and help them understand the surrounding world? And the rest of the life that we are told to “shut up and sit down” is our adulthood. We loose our sense of exploration and curiosity after we have figured out the “basics” of life. But curiosity and exploration is what advances us as individuals and groups.
Pretty inspiring, right? The points above are just a few of the many life lessons taught to us by Mr. Tyson over the past decades. Let us know below about your favorite lesson from our favorite scientist!