A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 20, 2013
“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living”

"Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living” is usually credited to physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), but this form of the saying seems to have been cited in print since only 1999. Einstein was quoted in the June 20, 1932 New York (NY) Times:

“Only a life lived for others is the life worth while.”

Similar sayings were published earlier. “But a life lived for self will soon be destroyed by death — only a life lived for others leaves behind it permanent results” was cited in 1912. “Only as a life is lived for others is it worth the living” was cited in 1924. Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961)—whom Einstein is likely to have read—wrote in 1928:

“Only a life lived in a certain spirit is worth while. It is a remarkable fact that a life lived entirely from the ego usually affects not only the person himself, but others also, as being dull.”

[This entry was prepared in part with research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]


Wikiquote: Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a theoretical physicist and humanist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time. He is most famous for his Special and General Theories of Relativity, but contributed in other areas of physics. He won the Nobel Prize in physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.
(...)
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. ("Only a life lived for others is the life worth while” is correct—ed.)
. In answer to a question asked by the editors of Youth, a journal of Young Israel of Williamsburg, NY. Quoted in the New York Times, June 20, 1932, pg. 17.
. Unsourced variant: Only a life in the service of others is worth living.

Google Books
Socialism and the ethics of Jesus
By Henry Clay Vedder
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
1912
Pg. 365:
But a life lived for self will soon be destroyed by death — only a life lived for others leaves behind it permanent results.

11 April 1924, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram, “Governor Calls For Prayers To Eliminate Greed,” pg. 5, col. 1:
... that comfort and safety are not of themselves good; that only as a life is lived for others is it worth the living.

Google Books
Contributions to analytical psychology
By Carl G. Jung
Translated by H. G. Baynes and Cary F. Baynes
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner
1928
Pg. 98:
I believe, therefore, that a spirit which corresponds to our highest ideals finds its limits set by life. It is certainly indispensable to life, since a mere ego-life is, as we well know, a most inadequate, unsatisfactory thing. Only a life lived in a certain spirit is worth while. It is a remarkable fact that a life lived entirely from the ego usually affects not only the person himself, but others also, as being dull.

20 June 1932, New York (NY) Times, pg. 17:
EINSTEIN IS TERSE
IN RULE FOR SUCCESS
“Only Life Lived for Others Is
Worth While,” He Writes to
Brooklyn Young Men.

(...)
Professor Albert Einstein, Dr. John Dewey, Edward Arlington Robinson, Aldous Huxley and United States Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis tell what they believe are the necessary qualifications for success in the world today in the current issue of Youth, publication of the Young Israel of Williamsburg, which is edited by Albert Bassuk, a student at St. John’s College, Brooklyn. Their opinions were expressed in answer to a letter sent to each by Mr. Bassuk.

Professor Einstein summed up his ideas in one sentence: “Only a life lived for others is the life worth while.”

27 June 1932, Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, “News and Views” by Frank Frances, pg. 1, col. 1:
Professor Einstein has been asked what he believes to be the necessary qualifications to success. Briefly he replies:

“Only a life lived for others is the life worth while.”

Google Books
The Drama of Albert Einstein
By Antonina Vallentin
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1954
Pg. 93:
He summed up the motives of his own behavior in a sentence: “Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.”

Google Books
Einstein and the Poet:
In Search of the Cosmic Man

By William Hermanns
Brookline Village, MA: Branden Press, Inc.
1983
Pg. 91:
Einstein shrugged his shoulders. “I believe in one thing— that only a life lived for others is a life worth living.”

Google Books
Bite-Size Einstein:
Quotations on Just About Everything from the Greatest Mind of the Twentieth Century

By Albert Einstein
Compiled by jerry mayer and John P. Holms
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
1996
Pg. 25:
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Google Books
More Pocket Positives
By Maggie Pinkney
Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press
1999
Pg. 176:
Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955 German-born American physicist

Google Books
Up Your Service!:
Strategies and action steps to delight your customers now!

By Ron Kaufman
Singapore: R. Kaufman
2000
Pg. 39:
“Only a life lived in service to others is worth living. “
ALBERT EINSTEIN

RemedySpot.com
guest
11-04-2000, 07:24 PM
Another false Einstein quote
Mr. Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.”

Google Books
The Day You Were Born: A Journey to Wholeness through Astrology and Numerology
By Linda Joyce
New York: Citadel; London: Turnaround
2003
Pg. 351:
“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” — Albert Einstein.

Quoteland
Apokryphos
Posted 10-06-03 01:24 PM
(...)
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
~~Albert Einstein
http://www.quoteland.com/author.asp?AUTHOR_ID=89
http://www.giga-usa.com/gigaweb1/quotes2/qutoplifex005.htm]
http://www.nonstopenglish.com/reading/Quotations/index.asp?search=life+lived

I just couldn’t seem to find a source for it.

Google Books
Life@Work: Marketplace Success for People of Faith
By John Maxwell, Stephen R. Graves and Thomas G. Addington
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers
2005
Pg. 148:
The 1921 Nobel Prize winner for physics, Albert Einstein, said it best: “Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.”

Google Books
Einstein:
A Biography

By Jürgen Neffe
New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2007
Pg. 197:
This was quite uncharitable for a man who preached humanism and the idea that “only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, January 20, 2013 • Permalink