Archives for March 2013

Productivity 101 Recap!

On Tuesday night, we gathered together to discuss the productivity techniques that me and Divia actually use in our daily lives (instead of the ones we think would be helpful, but never use in practice).

Some of the main topics we covered were:

  • Goal setting and formulation
  • Reducing cognitive load
  • Utilizing social pressure
  • Taking very small steps to get started
  • And many more smaller tricks and tips!

You can listen to a recording of the webinar here. If you listen through to the end, it will direct you to a feedback form, and we’d love to hear what you guys liked and what you want more of.

Thanks for showing up!

24 Weeks of Lydia

This week was a hard one for me, for reasons that had nothing to do with Lydia. So it worked out well that it was a happy week for her! I’m definitely telling people she’s five and a half months old now, and she’s learning more and more all the time. I still take her pretty much everywhere with me, and in some ways I think I’ve been in a sweet spot of her being pretty happy to sit around and play on her own, and also not moving very far from where I put her down.

I’m always excited for her to get older and be able to do more stuff, but that’s what I appreciate about where I am now.

These days, it’s working really well for me to accept what she’s doing and not try to influence it much. (The biggest exception is that I can’t help myself with the crawling thing… I do keep putting toys further and further out of her reach because I get excited.) I also take her around with me everywhere, and in a lot of ways by life isn’t that different from my pre-Lydia days. 

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Things IFS Teaches

A while back, I made a list of things that I think people tend to learn from engaging with the IFS process, so I thought I would post it here. (There are obviously tons of other ways to learn these things, and many people will already know a bunch of them.) These are in no particular order.

  • Curiosity and compassion are very useful for doing introspection.
  • Emotional/behavior/thought patterns can often be modified by interacting with specific memories.
  • The mind isn’t unitary. It’s very normal to have conflicting thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
  • Leaning into painful sensations is often a really good idea.
  • We (humans) mostly see what we’re expecting to see.
  • It’s possible to end long-running arguments with yourself.
  • It’s possible to look back at memories that were once very painful and be at peace with them.
  • Intense “negative” emotions aren’t always subjectively unpleasant.
  • Often emotions will go away once you’ve heard what they’re trying to tell you.
People have also reported greater awareness of the physical experience of feeling emotions and recalling memories, and more vivid visualizations.
IFS can give people heuristics for recognizing confabulation.
Leading others through the IFS process also seems to promote enhanced social awareness, and increased curiosity about others, at least in certain contexts.

23 Weeks of Lydia

It’s been another week! No huge updates this week, but there have been a bunch of little things. I keep meaning to take more regular notes about what’s going on during the week, but I’m mostly just glad that I’ve been getting around to making these updates every Wednesday, since it all changes so quickly.

Overall, I’d say Lydia was in a pretty good mood this week. The almost cold of last week went away. There were a few times where she was quite upset, but her overall mood was good.

No big disruptions this week. No more camping :-). One party where she fell asleep pretty early in. We did go see Birth Story in the Mission, which went okay but not great. From the invitation posted to the home birth mailing list, I thought there would be more babies there, but my friend Tiffany and I were the only ones who brought ours. Lydia was fine during parts, but would also make noise sometimes. When she did, I stepped outside with her. Our midwife, Maria came in late and took her for a while, since she’d already seen the movie, which was really nice!

So, it probably wasn’t super appropriate to have her there, but it was way more acceptable than having her at any other movie would have been. And a few people came up to me afterwards and said it was nice to hear the babies from time to time, since it was thematic.

I would recommend the movie to anyone interested in Ina May Gaskin, birth, or hippie communities.

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How I Think Pathological Guilt Works

“If I do something wrong, I have to feel bad about it forever.”

I used to believe that, and that belief has been on my mind because I really don’t believe it anymore, and I was just talking to someone who expressed pretty much that exact belief.

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22 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia turned five months old this week, and also went on her first camping trip. I got a really mild cold for a few days last week, though Lydia didn’t seem to be affected much. She was a bit sneezy, and I think she may have been sleeping more because of it.

We were camping from Friday-Sunday. We hiked to a camp ground Friday, stayed there Friday night, then hiked more and went to Harbin hot springs and camped there Saturday night. Sunday, we hiked a bit more before heading home.

My prediction had been that she’d like camping, and that was mostly borne out. She definitely liked hiking. Camping was okay. Sleeping in a tent didn’t seem to be her favorite, but it wasn’t a disaster either. The car rides were probably her least favorite part, though she did spend some time sleeping.

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Heuristics for Spotting Distorted Thinking: “It Would Be One Thing If… But…”

I have a whole bunch of heuristics I use to notice distorted thinking. I’ve covered some of them here. Today, I wanted to highlight the speech pattern “It would be one thing if X, but Y,” typically used to describe why someone’s behavior is objectionable.

The language can vary a little:

“I know that she needs to do X, but Y seems like a bit much.”

“It wasn’t just X, it was Y!”

“I’m a reasonable person. I’d be okay with X. But he went so far as to do Y.” [Read more…]

21 Weeks of Lydia

Lydia will be five months this Sunday, and I’ve started telling people she’s “almost five months” instead of “four and a half months”.


I don’t think she’s woken up in the middle of the night this week and stayed up for a while. I skipped swaddling more times this week, so those nights were less restful for me, with more squirming and waking on her part. But nothing particularly memorable happened here.


She seems bigger again this week, though I haven’t really noticed any difference in nursing patterns. 

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Your Past is Never the Reason

I’m a huge fan of the Internal Family Systems therapy method. This method involves (among other things) digging into your past to find emotions you never finished processing and sorting them out. I’ve seen this method work very well to shift repetitive thoughts and behaviors relatively effortlessly. Doing the work is often fun and rewarding. While fake memories can come into play (it’s happened to me), my experience tells me that most of the memories people access when doing IFS relate to actual incidents.

Once those incidents are revisited and consciously processed, it’s easy to change the related story and then your behavior. [Read more…]

Beyond Rationality

I called this post “Beyond Rationality” because I wanted to move past the unfortunate connotations and bad habits associated with the word “rationality” in our culture. With tongue firmly in cheek, Divia and I often refer to the cluster of ideas I am about to present as post-rationality, and you may well encounter us using that very term. But in truth, I don’t see this philosophy as being opposed to rationality in any way. In fact, quite the opposite – I see this as rationality being properly applied. At the end of my last post, I promised to present you with a model of a rationalist human being. Not an ideally rational agent as described by mathematical equations, but how those abstract representations manifest in a living, breathing person. This is my approach to rationality, my philosophy of life, and why I think that rationality is actually an incredibly powerful meme.

Supremacy of the Instrumental over the Epistemic

In the first post in the series I presented my theory that self-described rationalists most often come to these ideas because of an aesthetic preference for truth. They are drawn to epistemic rationality, and that subsequently defines their relationship to these ideas. I found myself in the exact same boat when I first started out, the notion of systematically honing in on true beliefs was the siren’s call that left me immediately hooked. I had to understand these methods and apply them to my own cognition… and this laid the seeds for the triumph of instrumental rationality. [Read more…]