Experiential Wisdom : “Counting” Kills Enjoyment
A friend has started cycling in earnest.
He cycles every morning.
This is good and we appreciate his enthusiasm for exercise.
What is amusing is that he sends quantitative details of his cycling session every morning on WhatsApp and Social Media for everyone to see — including distance cycled, duration, speed, elevation, calories expended etc. — he even measures heart-rate and other health parameters — apparently he has an “Cycling App” (or a “Fitness App”) which measures all these parameters — and maybe — a “health gadget” too for measuring his health parameters.
Sometimes — I wonder — whether he is really “enjoying” the cycling experience — or — is he obsessed with “measuring” his cycling exploits…?
I cycled a lot during my young days — we visited many places on bikes — and — we enjoyed the experience — the scenery, the natural beauty, the camaraderie — but — we never bothered to “measure” all these details that people do today.
We enjoyed the “qualitative” aspect of cycling without being obsessed with the “quantitative” details.
It is the same with exercise.
Today — you have all sorts of Health Apps and “Fitness” Gadgets that “measure” everything — how much you walked or ran, your heart rates, heart rhythm and ECG, pulse rates, calories expended, blood pressure, skin temperature etc. — they even measure your stress and moods (I wonder how stress and moods can be measured) and they measure your sleep too (I thought sleep was qualitative in nature and you don’t need a gadget or App to tell you that you have slept well — or haven’t slept well — you can sense it — feel it — like moods and stress too — you don’t need an App or Gadget to tell you that you are stressed out or that you are in a bad mood).
Technology seems to have made our lives “quantitative” — and — we are losing the art of “qualitative” living — and — the obsession to “measure” has become all pervasive — at work — at leisure — in all aspects of our life.
Yes — Dear Reader:
“Digital” Technology encourages “Quantitative Living”.
All this reminds me of an article I had written on “Qualitative Living” around six years ago.
Here is the article — duly updated, revised and edited for easy reading on the digital screen.
A few years ago — after we returned to India after a most enjoyable stay in New Zealand — a “money-conscious” friend asked me:
“How much money did you spend on your recent New Zealand trip…?”
“I really don’t know the amount of money I spent. But — we really enjoyed our New Zealand trip immensely…” I said.
“Didn’t you calculate the precise amount you spent…? Don’t you keep accounts…?” he asked.
“No — I never keep precise accounts. I generally ensure that I don’t spend beyond my means — so — a rough idea is enough…” I said to him.
One thing I learnt in the Navy is that:
If you want to enjoy life — never “count” too much.
“Counting” Kills Enjoyment.
Precision destroys Pleasure.
If you want to enjoy “Quality of Life” — it is better to live a “Qualitative Life” — rather than a “Quantitative Life”.
Here is an article I wrote a few years ago on the topic.
“COUNTING” KILLS ENJOYMENT — PRECISION DESTROYS PLEASURE
“QUALITATIVE” LIVING is better than “QUANTITATIVE” LIVING
Experiential Wisdom from a Navy Veteran By Vikram Karve
It was a grand Navy party on our ship.
There was lots of bonhomie and spirits were high.
Booze was flowing freely — and the stewards were offering drink after drink to officers, especially the guests.
“Come on Sir — your glass is empty — here is a drink for you…” the steward said, offering a glass of whisky to a guest officer.
“No — No — I have had 3 pegs already…” the officer said.
“Sir — you have had 5 pegs of Whisky — but who is counting…?” the steward said.
The wizened steward had a point — if you are going to count your drinks — then why drink at all…?
The aim of drinking alcohol is to feel happy — so you must drink till you feel happy.
Why “count” your drinks…?
Happiness depends on your “drinking mood” — not on the number of drinks you consume.
It is the same with eating good food.
The moment you start “counting” calories — you lose the enjoyment of food — because — you keep focusing on “calories” in a dish — instead of its “taste”.
At buffets — I have seen “figure conscious” beauties looking wistfully at the lavish spread of delicious food — counting the calories in every dish — and then settling for just a little bit of salad — and even skipping the enticing “calorie laden” desserts.
Later — I am sure they wish they had eaten to their heart’s content.
The Moot Question is:
Why go to a “Feast” it you want to “Count” your “Calories”…?
THE “DIGITAL” WORLD
“Digital” Technology encourages Quantitative Living.
In this “digital” age — people “count” everything.
Long ago — during my glorious Mumbai days — one Sunday morning — I took a friend on one of my enjoyable Sunday special super-long walks in Mumbai.
Let me give you an idea of the route.
We started early — at dawn — from my house in Empress Court — opposite the Oval near Churchgate — admiring, in the early morning pre-sunrise light, the impressive silhouettes of the magnificent Gothic structures of the High Court and Mumbai University across the Oval — we heard the clock on Rajabai Tower strike 6 — then we walked briskly past Oxford Bookstore, KC College, CCI, Marine Plaza Hotel till Marine Drive.
We crossed the Marine Drive, turned right and started off towards Chowpatty, greeting with a smile the morning joggers and walkers, rinsing my lungs with the fresh invigorating sea breeze, and soon we were past Marine Lines, Taraporewala Aquarium, Charni Road, Chowpatty, Wilson College and at the end of Marine Drive.
Here we turned left up the Walkeshwar Road to Teen Batti — we did not go towards Banganga — but we turned right towards Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill — took a round of garden atop the water tank near Kamala Nehru Park (is it called Phirozeshah Mehta Udyan) — we cantered down to Kemp’s Corner where we turned right — a U-turn really — past Crossword Bookstore — down Hughes Road — left past Gamdevi, Nana Chowk and crossed the railway over-bridge — and we kept going onto Grant Road past Novelty Cinema — turned right at Delhi Durbar on Falkland Road — kept walking till we reached VP Road — walked past Gol Deval, Alankar cinema and there we were at Bhendi Bazar — looking at the inimitable Noor Mohammadi Hotel in front of us across Mohamedali Road — our first “halt” — for rest and replenishment.
Around 3 hours of brisk walking had built up in me a voracious appetite — and I was ready to devour a sumptuous breakfast.
I was hungry — and I eat only when I am hungry.
Even here — I do not “count”.
I don’t look at the clock and eat my meals.
I don’t eat lunch just because it is “lunchtime”.
Whenever I feel hungry — I eat.
So — I have had my lunch anywhere between 11 AM and 3 PM — depending when I feel hungry.
Coming back to our story — we entered the Spartan no-nonsense eatery — and I ordered Nalli Nihari and Roti for both of us.
Within a minute a bowl of piping hot gravy — with a generous chunk of succulent meat floating in it — and a fluffy khaboosh roti was placed in front of me — and one in front of my friend.
I dipped a piece of the soft roti in the spicy rich gravy — let it soak for a while — put it in my mouth — and closed my eyes to luxuriate in and relish the gastronomic experience in its entirety.
I felt the juicy gravy soaked roti melting on my tongue — releasing its delicious flavours and spicy aroma which permeated into my soul.
I was in seventh heaven — savouring the luscious taste of the delicious Nalli Nihari — epicurean pleasure of the highest order — sheer bliss — and when I opened my eyes — I noticed that my friend had not started eating.
“Come on — eat up — or the roti and nihari will get cold…” I said to my friend.
“Look at the amount of oil floating in this greasy gravy — there must be so many calories in there…” he said.
“Come on — we have walked so much to build up an appetite…” I said.
“How much did we walk — we walked for nearly 3 hours — so if our walking speed was 5 kilometres per hour — then — we would have burnt XXX calories…” he mumbled.
I could see he was “calculating” the distance — the calories — in his mind — so — I interrupted him — and I said to him:
“How the hell does it matter how much we walked…?”
He said to me:
“I am just trying to calculate whether the calories in this dish are more than the calories we spent walking…”
I said to him:
“Why are you “counting” so much…?
You enjoyed the walk — didn’t you…?
Now — you enjoy the food…”
When you walk — enjoy your walk.
When you eat — enjoy your food.
Stop “counting” calories.
DO YOU “COUNT” WHEN YOUR EXERCISE…?
It is crazy — the way people “count” while exercising.
The aim of exercise is to make you feel healthy — and more importantly — exercise must make you feel good.
In our school and college days — and later in the Navy — we played team games like football, hockey, basketball, water-polo etc.
No one kept time.
No one counted the goals scored.
No one bothered who won or lost.
We just enjoyed playing the game.
Later — I used to swim.
As I grew older — I started walking.
I always like to listen to my body while exercising.
One day I may exercise more.
One day I may exercise less.
I never “count” — it all depends on my mood.
Recently — I came across some crazy “counting” types who put up updates on Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc) about the exact distance they have walked.
I believe there is a device that measures the precise distance you have walked — it even tells you the number of steps you have walked.
Instead of enjoying the walking experience — these “Quantitative” types are obsessed with distance, speed, heart-rate, pulse-rate, calories expended, number of steps walked etc. while walking, jogging, exercising etc.
The aim of exercise is to make you feel good — and all this “counting” ruins the enjoyment of exercise.
In fact — all this measurement and counting may even cause stress in you if you do not meet your “targets”.
How does it matter how many steps you have walked or how much distance you have jogged or what was your speed or how many calories you have expended or what is your heart-rate, pulse-rate etc. — as long as you are feel that you have exercised well — and you are experiencing the “feel good” emotion you do after healthy exercise.
Exercise should be a pleasure — not a pain.
Yes — the root cause of this “counting” disease is the all-pervasive “competitive environment” — and everyone’s desire to “set goals” and “meet targets”.
“QUALITATIVE LIVING” APPROACH AT THE WORKPLACE
I remember an incident at work.
Our team was working on an intricate engineering design problem — and we were nearing the solution — when suddenly the siren sounded for “Lunch Break”.
“Sir — it is 12:30 PM — should we break for lunch…?” someone said.
“Are you so hungry — that you will drop dead if you don’t eat right now…?” I asked him.
“No, Sir…” he said.
I said to him:
“See — we are in the “mood” now — so let’s finish off what we are doing.
If we break off for lunch now — we will lose our mood and synergy by the time we assemble again after lunch.
Also we won’t be able to enjoy our lunch — because this unresolved problem will still be on our minds.
So — let’s finish this off first — and then — we can have a relaxed lunch…”
Everyone agreed with me.
By the time we finished — it was 1:30 PM — and we were enjoying our lunch — when my Boss paid a surprise visit to my office.
Since my Boss was a “clock-watcher” type — so — he was annoyed that we were having lunch outside the “prescribed lunchtime”.
Next morning — I felt hungry at 11 AM in the morning.
So — I opened up my lunchbox and I was enjoying eating my lunch — when my Boss made a sudden appearance.
“You are a crazy chap — yesterday — you were eating lunch at 1:30 PM in the afternoon — and today — you are eating at lunch at 11 AM in the morning…” my boss remarked.
“Sir — I eat when I am hungry…” I retorted.
But — my clock-watcher stickler Boss did not seem quite convinced.
Also — I sleep when I feel sleepy — not just because it is “bedtime”.
Well — I can go on and on — till the cows come home.
But — Dear Reader — I am sure you have got the gist of what I want to say.
“Counting” Kills Enjoyment.
So — Dear Reader:
You know that:
Precision destroys Pleasure.
Counting kills Enjoyment.
Measurement hinders Happiness and the Joy of Living.
In an nutshell — if you want to live on a “higher plane” and enjoy “Quality of Life”:
“Qualitative Living” is far superior to “Quantitative Living”.
So — Dear Reader — why not live a more “Qualitative Life” — instead of the “Quantitative Life” you are living now…?
Whenever I head for a party — especially a get-together of ex-Navy Buddies — I do not wear my watch — and — I switch off my mobile phone.
I am not going to “count” anything — no counting drinks — no counting calories — no clock-watching — just unrestrained “qualitative” enjoyment — yes — “Qualitative Enjoyment” — that is the way to have a jolly good time…
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Link to my source blog post in my Blog Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve:
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
This is a re-post of my self-help article COUNTING KILLS ENJOYMENT posted by me online earlier at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/04/counting-kills-enjoyment-self-help.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/dont-count-stop-measuring-enjoy-life-art-of-qualitative-living/ and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/03/precision-destroys-pleasure-counting.html and https://karve.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/qualitative-living/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/how-to-live-a-qualitative-life/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2021/06/08/stop-counting-start-enjoying/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/05/03/counting-kills-enjoyment/ etc
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.