Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”
You count the hours in a day, the days in a month, the months in a year. You can count calories in and calories out. You can count the minutes spent on a treadmill. You can count the numbers on a bathroom scale, but what does all that accounting, count for?
We count and manage the things that we can measure, the tangible things of life. We tally the score, and size someone up according to the numbers. To count anything other than the concrete things we can see and measure, seems a lot like herding chickens. We can say, “I love you THIS much!” and spread our arms out, but what is that? How much is ‘this’? Intangible things are often immeasurable, fleeting, circumstantial, seemingly small; a moment of joy here, a little bit of love there. By not measuring the abstract, we remain in a state of survival, just getting by, fitting in to the numbers game.
I recently heard about the country of Bhutan and what I heard piqued my interest. Bhutan is a tiny country that sits between China and India. For almost it’s entire existence, it has been a monarchy and a country that has barely survived. The King, in 1972 was a 17 year old boy who inherited his position when his father died. On a trip to India, shortly after he began his reign, he was asked about his country’s Gross Domestic Product. In response, he asked why people are so caught up in measuring the success of a country by something that misses so much of what is important. He suggested that a successful country starts with happy people. He started a movement called the Gross National Happiness which has been slow to catch on, with exception of Bhutan.
Over the next several decades, he took the country of Bhutan from a struggling to survive place, to a country of transformation. He learned to balance the material value of things and the non material value. Just a few years ago, it became the newest democracy in the world and did so without retaliation, revolts, rejection, coos or bloodshed. They have done away with the GDP and developed a matrix for measuring the intangible things of the country.
The young King learned to place more value on the people in the country than anything else. He created the intangible conditions for happiness to occur or in other words…a habitat for happiness. He developed a “currency of happiness.” He cares about how the people in his country feel about the way they spend their day. He cares about their well-being.
How are you creating a habitat of happiness, despite the chaos of the world around you? Life rarely measures up to our expectations and that’s hard when we are programmed to measure and count on everything.
Just like a country stuck in trying to survive, a person can not be transformed until the things that count are being accounted for. We can all just try to survive, but that isn’t the same as living.
We would do well to take a step back and ask ourselves, “What is it, that really counts?” ” What is it that is missing in my life?” It’s our job to provide basics needs for ourselves and our family, and then create the habitat for happiness. Create a place where those around us are respected, honored, esteemed, understood, loved, and don’t forget to do all that for yourself too!
Whether it’s a country or an individual, transformation only happens after the basic needs are met, safety, food, shelter, belonging, love. As hokey as it sounds, we are all just starved for love. Not love that can be counted and measured…not a $75 pair of jeans, but time, patience, understanding, tolerance…that kind of love, the kind that you can’t measure by the gifts we give, or on a spreadsheet that continually recalculates the score.