The Nobel Prize awarded for peace was created a century ago by Alfred B. Nobel (1833-1896), a man who amassed his fortune by producing explosives. Among other things, Nobel invented dynamite.
The following event is what motivated this Swedish munitions manufacturer to dedicate his fortune to honoring and rewarding those who benefited humanity?
When Alfred Nobel’s brother died, the local newspaper ran a long obituary of Alfred Nobel, believing that it was he who had passed away. What he read bothered him so much he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to something that would change the way he was remembered.The newspaper described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.
At that moment, Alfred Nobel realized two things: that this was how he was going to be remembered, and that this was not how he wanted to be remembered. Shortly thereafter, he established the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, because of his doing so, everyone is familiar with the Nobel Prize, while relatively few people know how Nobel made his fortune.
Thinking about how one’s obituary is going to read can motivate us to rethink how we are currently spending our life. No eulogy ever says he/she dressed well, lived extravagantly, took dynamite vacations, drove an expensive car, or built the most expensive home. We never hear of anyone praised for being too busy at work to find time for their children.
The people who are most mourned are not the richest or the most famous, or the most successful. They are people who enhanced the lives of others.