Month: April 2019

Should and Shouldn’t

I upped my reading goal at the start of the year (from 12 books to 24 books). There’s a shelf on my bookshelf of “books that I should read but haven’t read yet” and after ignoring that shelf for way too long, I set up a recurring reminder – “read the books you’ve already got!”

So after I finished a book that dad gave me for Christmas, I went over to my “books I should read” shelf and picked out one that seemed interesting: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I vaguely recalled that my sister brought it over one day, so I asked her about it before reading it. She said that one part of it had been recommended to her, and she’d read that part and then handed it to me (and of course she’d told me at the time – which specific part to read!) but she couldn’t remember the important part anymore. I just started reading it from the top.

Turns out, it’s one of the earliest best-selling books on cognitive therapy, which I also vaguely recall learning about in psychology at uni.

The book begins by introducing some cognitive therapy concepts:
– mild depression isn’t caused by imbalances of brain chemicals, it’s caused by a negative/distorted thought that can change how you feel, which can then can spiral into further negative/distorted thoughts and feelings
– the thoughts cause the negative feelings, not the other way around, so if you can address and change the thoughts, then you change the feelings
– mild depression can be treated by cognitive therapy as effectively (or more effectively) than depression medication

The book then gives the reader a quiz to figure out what kind of depression they might have – normal fluctuation of moods, mild depression, or deep depression. (I got “normal fluctuation.”)

The book then gives an overview of ten main “cognitive distortions.” For some of the distortions, I was like: “Oh sure, I do that.” Like the Overgeneralisation distortion – I’ll think, “I always find it hard making friends these days!” – which then is paired with the Mental Filter distortion (focusing on a negative detail) – “this person’s body language completely shut me out of the conversation they were having with another person, and we were the only three people in the room!” – which can lead to: “I am an unlikable person.”

Butttttttt, the distortion I found super interesting? Should Statements.

Lemme just copy that bit here (p47):

Should Statements. You try to motivate yourself by saying, “I should do this” or “I must do that.” These statements cause you to feel pressured and resentful. Paradoxically, you end up feeling apathetic and unmotivated. Albert Ellis calls this “musturbation.” I call it the “shouldy” approach to life.

When you direct should statements toward others, you will usually feel frustrated. When an emergency caused me to be five minutes late for the first therapy session, the new patient thought, “He shouldn’t be so self-centered and thoughtless. He ought to be prompt.” This thought caused her to feel sour and resentful.

Should statements generate a lot of unnecessary emotional turmoil in your daily life. When the reality of your own behaviour falls short of your standards, your shoulds and shouldn’ts create self-loathing, shame, and guilt. When the all-too-human performance of other people falls short of your expectations, as will inevitably happen from time to time, you’ll feel bitter and self-righteous. You’ll either have to change your expectations to approximate reality or always feel let down by human behaviour. If you recognise this bad should habit in yourself, I have outlined many effective “should and shouldn’t” removal methods in later chapters on guilt and anger.


I find this interesting because I feel like I am battling “should statements” all the time. (Even at the start of this post – “books that I should read but haven’t read yet”.) And I’ve reflected over the past couple of years that – especially in regards to my career – I’ve been sensing that the “should statements” are more damaging than helpful, and I’ve been trying to reduce them.

So Ima keep reading this book and I’ll see what help it can give me.


Baby’s First Bluetooth Earphones

It feels weird to call them earphones instead of headphones.

Anyway, James has been telling me for years to try some bluetooth earphones, and I just thought they were soooo ugly, and my Sennheiser in-ears (from 2016) worked fine, so it didn’t seem worth spending the money. I was going to wait until my Sennheisers died and then buy some true wireless earbuds – not the Apple ones, because they never fit my LADY-EARS, but something else. (I was considering the Anker Liberty Air, but they’re not yet available in Australia.)

But recently James needed to buy some new bluetooth earphones, so he did all the researching and comparing and deciding, and chose some NuForce sport earphones. He said, “Come on, come on, try them!”

So I was like, “OK, OK, OK!” and put on Peacock Tail.

I listened with the NuForce.
I listened with the Sennheisers.
I listened with the NuForce.
I bought the NuForce.

Boy Things and Girl Things

I have a boy child and a girl child. Every few months, I’ll meet someone who finds out (that I have a boy child and a girl child), and sometimes they comment:

“Ohhh, it’s so true, isn’t it?! Boys and girls are just so different!”


“Oh, me too! It’s so true what they say, boys are just into boy things and girls are into girl things.”

I don’t answer when people say that, because I find there’s no point. And usually the person has continued on to tell me about all the boy-things that their boy is into, and how their girl is completely different.

Sometimes, however, they comment:

“Did you get a real boy-ey boy and a real girly girl?”


“Is it true, what they say? Are they really stereotypically into ‘boy-‘ and ‘girl-things?'”

I had one of those comments last week. I usually reply to those kinds of comments, because it feels like the person is actually listening and curious:

“Well. I could say ‘Yes.’ My boy likes LEGO and train sets and marble runs and engineering things. He likes digging ‘channels’ or ‘moats’ in dirt or sand. He likes being outside for a million hours, my girl doesn’t. My girl likes playing with our toy stroller, toy food and toy kitchen. She loves playing with dress-ups and make-up, whereas my boy’s not into it. It’d be really neat and tidy to stop there. But that would be ignoring so many of their interests. My boy also likes playing with the toy stroller, toy food and toy kitchen. They both like mud, sand, water play and swimming. They both love climbing and riding bikes. They both love painting, art and craft. They both love music and dancing. My boy’s not into TV shows with fighting and baddies like PJ Masks, he’s into tender shows with a loving main character who tries to solve a problem – like Wallykazam or True. My girl loves cars and balls, but my boy’s not that interested in those. She also likes construction toys, and is just getting into LEGO. So the full picture is more complicated. Y’know?”



Self Care Update

So, you say, how is that self care stuff going?

Oh, really well! Thanks for asking.

A couple of notes –

Skin care: I haven’t noticed any difference from a bunch of different products I’ve tried, but a few of them are really slow & long-term (like sunscreen, chemical exfoliation, vitamin A, and peptides). However, DECIEM’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG does what it says on the packet: it destroys eye puffiness, which is great for when you have a terrible night’s sleep – – – – and DECIEM’s C25 has reduced my sun pigmentation.

Mood: I’ve been taking St John’s Wort for over 2 months now, and: I have not woken up in a bad mood or had an inexplicable bad mood once. I think there was, like, one day in that entire time when I felt truly grumpy, and that was during the day, after a bunch of things happened that were difficult. So, it’s an investment (about $1 per day), but I believe it’s working. I have been feeling more relaxed and happy than usual, and I haven’t even been doing much yoga! Time will tell. (Also – maybe related – I’ve been really enjoying a turmeric drink every night, and I found this interesting piece on turmeric the other day.)



On Colour

From Joyful, by Ingrid Fetell Lee (p29):


Why do some cultures reserve color only for celebratory moments, while others make it a part of the everyday?

It would be easy to conclude that it’s a simple matter of preference: certain cultures have developed an appetite for color, while others prefer a grayscale life. But I think the real answer lies in a cultural bias deep in Western society that runs toward sophistication, away from joy. This bias was forcefully expressed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe when he wrote in 1810 that “savage nations, uneducated people, and children have a great predilection for vivid colors,” but that “people of refinement avoid vivid colors in their dress and the objects that are about them, and seem inclined to banish them altogether from their presence.”