Don’t Count

Oakland, 2015
Oakland, 2015

“Expert counting uses no beads.” – Lao Tzu

Truly rich people don’t count the money in their bank account. They know that they are wealthy — because they don’t even worry about how much money they have.

People who are self-confident in themselves don’t count the amount of social media followers they have.

Photographers who create great art don’t count how many exhibitions or books they’ve published — they rely on their own intuition and self-worth.

An expert photographer will not let the number of “likes” they get on social media determine whether a photograph is good or not. Rather, they consult their own conscience, and the opinion of their friends and colleagues who they trust.

Don’t count


What if we lived a life where we didn’t count, or keep score?

For example, what if we didn’t count the number of times we held our partner? That we didn’t “keep score” — and feel resentful that our partner didn’t help us as many times we helped them?

What if we didn’t keep count in terms of the favors we did for friends?

What if we didn’t count how many likes/followers we had on social media?

What if we didn’t count the 0’s in our bank account?

What if we didn’t count the amount of stuff that we owned?

What if we didn’t count the number of accomplishments, awards, or degrees we achieved?

Modernity loves counting


Modernity has made counting the essence of society, economics, and life. In the past, men would count their wealth by how many oxen they owned, and how many wives they married. Today, we value our self-worth by how much money we earn, how much property we own, and how many followers we have.

What if we lived a life in which we didn’t count anymore?

I would think we would have less stress, anxiety, and frustration in life. We would be more content with what we already owned, instead of desiring what was outside of us.

We would work harder in our creative work — because we wouldn’t worry about the amount of external affirmation we would receive.

Experiment: Don’t count for a month


As an experiment, try out the following for a month:

  • Don’t count the number of likes you get on your photos
  • Don’t count the number of followers you have on social media
  • Don’t count your page views to your website or blog
  • Don’t count the number of times you did someone a favor (or the number of times someone has wronged you)
  • Don’t track your steps, weight, or how much you can bench-press
  • Don’t count the 0’s in your bank account
  • Don’t count the number of things you finished on your todo list
  • Don’t count the number of unanswered emails in your inbox

What else could you not count in your life, to give you more serenity, happiness, and self-satisfaction?

Value your self-worth and your own opinion of yourself instead of looking at external numbers. This is the only way to find serenity.


Learn more: Photography and Philosophy >