The given quote is famously believed to be quoted by the great scientist, Einstein. In its first appearance, it may sound a bit clumsy in tone. In reality, though, it is one of the best life lessons one can count upon in life.
To decode its meaning, lets take a deeper dive into the meaning of the words ‘counts’ and ‘counted’. Here, ‘things which one counts on’ are those things which has real importance in one’s life. They matter a lot on our personality development, the way we perceive life and the way we come out of our grief period. ‘Things which can be counted’ can be understood as related to material aspect like money, property, or something having less intrinsic and more of monetary value.
So, what we can literally understand from the given quote is that- all those things which we can count (things which can be counted- say, money) ain’t always important in life (not always count). Similarly, the things which really do matter (that counts) are those which can’t always be counted (measured). Here, we can interpret the word counts as something which holds importance and we can rely upon in difficult times- like, family, friends, emotions, a little act by some acquaintance, anything. The interpretation for the phrase ‘things that can be counted’ is more related to money.
Einstein probably would have quoted the above quote in the context of mathematics and Physics related sums and problems (that can be counted). They really would not have mattered to him at a point of time in his life when he combined these famous words. And probably he would have understood the importance of all those immaterial, uncountable humanly attributes that he had missed all this while.
The same goes for many of us in our lives. The youth of present times are busy running behind the luxuries of life- money, home, car, comfort, etc. Certainly for a better life, these things are necessary to an extent. But sacrificing one for the other, especially neglecting your parents, responsibilities, for the material comfort of life isn’t a wise decision.
Similarly, we can also understand the meaning of the quote as a bigger number (things that can be counted) do not always represent a greater value (can not always be counted upon). For example, Large number of poverty alleviation schemes, committees, reports wont eliminate poverty. Just because government is coming forth with a lot of schemes on paper doesn’t mean problem is getting lesser. What matters is the right implementation of a single scheme, diligently. For example, starting from planning Commission’s working group, Dandekar and Rath’s assessment, Alag committee, Lakdawala committee, Tendulakar committee to Rangarajan committee (2012) we had numerous committees on poverty line estimation since independence.
At the international and national level as well, on of the crucial subject of environment has yet not seen the focused effort. Just there are numerous schemes, forums, platforms, one cant even count properly as they are so numerous in number. The efforts and genuine intention is still missing even at this grave hour of global warming. A similar case was there in our country with Planning commission and Finance commission- they had overlapping functions. 2 commissions, double manpower, funds for a single task that could have been easily achieved even if there was a single body dedicated to it.
What counts at the end is that poverty is eliminated, people are more aware towards their acts which are harming environment and there are cordial relations between center and states in our country for development to be equally balanced. For this, n-number of committees, forums, schemes, and commissions do not matter. What is actually important (thing which counts) is whatever efforts are there, they are accomplished with full commitment.
Many of us are very well aware of the fact that the best things in life are hidden behind the small acts & things and not always in material possession. In personal sphere, people value the importance of degree form a highly famous institute over degree from a government college. Certainly,education from a good institute makes you a capable person but that does not mean a student from lesser known college is necessarily less capable, as generally believed in our society. What is counted here is the name and prestige of the college; what counts actually is the hardwok one puts in his/her work and the knowledge one possess.
Similarly, People respect those who have wealth or those who occupy highly prestigious positions. They are said to be generous. What one counts here is the monetary help they are providing as an act of charity; or may be the lavish lifestyle which makes them appear smarter. What really counts here is no matter the person is having money in his/her hands or not; he/she is really having resources at his/hr disposal or not but is still willing enough to help others and make a difference in their life though his/her small acts.
The great social reformers of our country since ancient times, the poets and saints through their little acts tried to bring a change in the miserable condition of our society ridden with caste system, subdued position of women, illiteracy and religious myths. Saint kabir, Surdas, Ravidas, Rajaram Mohan Roy, Ishwar chandra vidya sagar, etc. are few among them. Moreover the great freedom fighters of our country spend their entire lives for the independence of their country. Their qualities of compassion towards other human beings made them stand apart from rest of the masses. What counts here is their efforts, their humanly qualities which money and wealth cant bring. These qualities cant be counted (measured), but they certainly count.
Hence, what matters the most in one’s life is little things which we generally ignore being so indulged in earning comfort and material things. Their importance is realized when time slips from our hands. So its necessary to really understand the difference between the intrinsic and face value of things. One needs to understand the importance of inculcating the humanly attributes in one’s personality. That would really make you a better person and make your life the best among others.