In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s life in your years. – Edward J. Stieglitz

They say “Life is Short. Enjoy it while you can” but no one explains the meaning of life. This is probably because life is subjective for everyone. People have different definitions associated with life. However, if there is one quote that explains it all very well, it would be “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s life in your years”. While it may seem like just another quote about life, it has a detailed meaning. Let’s find out the analogy behind the quote.

Edward J. Stieglitz

Who Said This Quote?

If you search the internet, you may find that this quote is wrongly attributed to Abraham Lincoln in so many places. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America. He belonged to the Republican party when he joined it in 1854. Despite the short era he had, his legacy continues to exist even today as many people follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and his approach towards life. Among the pieces of writings affiliated with Abraham Lincoln, such a quote is not found. 

As a matter of fact, other sources have cited this quote. Quote investigators found out that the earliest instance of this quote was in an advertisement in 1947. This advertisement was for a book named “The Second Forty Years” and was written by Edward J. Stieglitz, M.D. Some sources even suggest that the quote has been used by Adlai Stevenson. The clearest evidence is seen in the case of “The Second Forty Years”. 

Motivational quote related to this quote

Meaning of The Quote

There are several themes and meanings which can be inferred from the quote “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s life in your years”. 

Live it Thoroughly

The foremost meaning of this quote is that you may live 100 years physically but as long as you aren’t happy with it mentally, it does not matter. Life is at its best when a person enjoys it the most. There are people who spend so much time in their life but aren’t satisfied with it because they are unable to live the life they dreamt of. On the other hand, some people don’t live that long but they have lived such a great life that their legacy goes on for years. One of the most known examples can be of Micheal Jackson who died only when he was 50 years. However, he marked a legacy in the music era which is still remembered today. 

Another important theme of this quote is trying to live your life. Many people are living their life by just surviving it throughout the day. They are just having a very normal life with no element of fun in it. These people are just satisfied with their lives and don’t want to add more fun or part of “life” to it. Although such a life may be convenient, it is too boring as well which makes it less meaningful. Therefore, this quote teaches us to live up to our lives and not just have it as a boring one. 

All of It Matters

From the source of this quote, we have found out that it was mentioned in the book “The Second Forty Years’ ‘ which means the latter half of one’s life. While we are all so active at an early age, many of us aren’t the same at a later time. We eventually get tired, bored, or too comfortable with the confined environment of our lives. The motive behind the book as well as the quote is to live life even at a later part of life and not just the beginning of it.

Create a future by living life in its truest manner

Taking the Chances

One of the main things many people say at their old age is that they have regrets about not taking the chances that they could have taken. These people feel like they could have expressed their love for others, forgiven others, taken the risk for a new business venture, go out for a tour, and done so many other things that they didn’t do. They say “In the end, we regret the chances we didn’t take”. If you are planning on living a life that matters, a life that you are proud of, take the chances that you have today. Opportunities don’t knock every now and then. Therefore, one should grab the opportunity that they have, at the moment, or else, regret it for life. 

Precisely, at the end of our lives, one won’t think about delayed flights, missed deadlines at work, or any other problem. Rather, it would be the joyous memories and a time that we enjoyed to our best. 

Accepting Vulnerability

As people face a tragedy in life, they get depressed for a long time. While some people overcome the sad phase sooner, there are others who take a really long time or sometimes never recover from it. However, life is all about vulnerability. If we accept this one thing, none of us will stay in the sad phase for a long time. 

People grieve about the death of others, get sad about their loved one breaking up with them, and have several other accidents throughout their life. What is most important in this regard is that no matter what one would do, sadness is going to be as much of a part of life as much is going to be a happy time. If we accept this simple phenomenon, we would be living life in our years rather than just spending years in our life. 

A board saying the word “vulnerability”

Doing Something for Others

Live life while doing something for others as well. Any kind of social work, help for the poor, or any other notable contribution to society is what is going to give you the real meaning of life. Life is not meant to be lived in a completely selfish manner, rather it requires us to fulfill our part, even though it is not essential to do so. 

If we take a look back at some of the important figureheads such as Mahatma Gandhi, we would see that it’s their life in the years that they lived. They truly did something for the world and proved that years in your life don’t matter. What matters is how you spend those years in a wise, empathetic, and socially positive behavior with others. 


One of the core focuses of this quote is on the aspect of motivation. It motivates people to do something “extra” in their lives. For those that have not stood up from a trauma, or for those that are scared to take the next step, this quote provides a motivation that they need to do what they are afraid to do. It’s just the one life which they have. 


This quote is one of our personal favorite quotes. This is because it communicates the aspect and beauty of life in a unique manner while explaining to us how to live life in a better manner. It aesthetically explains to people how living life is as important as spending it. One should follow this quote to motivate themselves in achieving better.